Are you operating from a place of fear?

Image: Tamara Bellis/Unsplash

Image: Tamara Bellis/Unsplash

I am afraid...

  • I am not good enough/smart enough.
  • I have no real talents.
  • I don't have enough drive.
  • I have nothing interesting to add.
  • I will be rejected/judged/humiliated.
  • I will look stupid.
  • I will lose everything.
  • I am too young/too old.
  • I am not pretty enough/thin enough.
  • I don't have enough money.
  • I won't be taken seriously.
  • No one cares about what I have to say.
  • I am unlovable.
  • I will always be stuck.
  • My dreams are too big.
  • My ideas are silly.
  • I have left it too late.
  • Someone has done it before me.
  • Other are doing it better than me.
  • I have no willpower. 
  • I don't have the time.
  • I am missing out.
  • I am invisible.
  • I don't know what to do.
  • I don't know what I want.
  • Everyone will laugh at me.
  • I will fail. 

I have felt the ache and anguish of these fears running through me at various stages of my life. Some came to visit for a short stay - an hour or a few days. Others resonated more deeply and stayed for months or even years.

The truth is fear has been a loyal and constant companion in my life. Fear has watched over me, worked with me, walked with me, slept with me, created with me and loved with me. Fear has incapacitated me and pushed me to breaking point. Yet strangely, or surprisingly - or both - fear has also lead me to moments of creative abandon, accomplishment and personal freedom.

Fear is a brutal, clumsy, nagging beast. And it needs to be tamed.

Over the years I have learned to slow my racing mind and throbbing heart and lean in to listen to my fears before (over)reacting with some ill considered choice that generally left me frustrated, stalled and second guessing myself. 

When I leaned in, I came to understand that fear had one primary job to do and that was to keep me safe. But in doing so I realised fear had a tendency to keep me small, sheltered and hold me back from showing up with complete courage and conviction. I also realised fear had a knack for wasting time - my time - in the form of procrastination. 

Eventually, I got sick of the bullshit and called fear out on it's shitty mind games and I starting asking myself some different questions. 

What if I fail - what will actually happen? What if the worst happened - what then? What if Plan A, B, C, D go awry - what's my Plan Z?  What if I actually succeed - what then? And what if I do nothing at all? What happens then?

I kept asking myself these five questions again and again until I cut through my own bullshit and got some genuine answers.

For starters, I survived each scenario. Even when I fell, or stumbled, or hurt, or lost everything, life kept going and miraculously I kept going. I still got to wake up and do it again or start over. I still held the power of choice, even when it felt like I had none. And my loved ones still loved me.

And just like that, the end of the world crisis happening in my head was averted. 

Becoming friends with a dragon is smarter than killing it. Rather than fight your fears, ride them towards a better understanding of your self.
— Francesco Dimitri

Learning to accept fear as a normal part of life has demystified it's pythonic grip and settled the incessant battle waging inside me. Learning to co-exist with it has helped me develop a better understanding of myself and allowed me to get back in the driver's seat. Now, I let fear tag along for the ride as a back seat passenger without much say at all.

I navigate the road ahead and if I get stuck all I have to do is ask myself 'What if".

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