Think about what you are afraid of right now. List your top 3 fears. Now ask this question of each… What is behind this fear? For example, if you listed that you were afraid to write a published piece, what would be the driving force behind that fear? Maybe you’re afraid people won’t like it. What’s behind that? Maybe if people don’t like you’re writing they won’t like you. And what’s the fear behind that? If people don’t like you it could lead to you being alone. In my work I call this ‘drilling down’.
Now which one of your fears is happening right now, as you read this? Literally, in this precise moment, the thing you fear is happening. The answer is probably none of them. Not in this exact moment in time.
Fear isn’t about the present moment. It’s always about our imagined thoughts of the future.
We are afraid and get paralyzed. Not from something that is happening right now, but about the potential of something that might come to pass in the future. It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 seconds in the future or if it’s 10 years in the future. It isn’t happening in the present moment. And that fear almost always paralyzes us. We fear something that may not come into existence. It may not play out the way we think. Yet our bodies and minds respond as if it’s playing out in the present moment. Fear exists in our thoughts of what’s to come. This is the now.
I’m not a big fan of trying to conquer fear. But I do believe in partnering with it for the sake of motivation and empowerment. I like to come along side fear and realize that it has been and always will be coming from a place of positive intent. That is, fear is trying to help us… always. Fear of financial scarcity is trying to keep a roof over our head and food in our belly. And it’s a good thing, because food and shelter are necessary for our survival. In this way, we can look at fear not so much as something to conquer as much as something we can come alongside and utilize.
So that’s the positive side of fear that helps to keep us alive. The negative side of fear can paralyze us and cause us to be inactive or even take harmful action. Like when we procrastinate.
There are three questions I like to ask when fear is keeping me from making healthy choices and taking positive action. They will enable you to move forward as well.
1. What is your fear and what's behind it?
Just as in our opening example, you want to drill down by asking, ‘what’s the deeper fear behind that fear’. You’ll know when you get to it. It’s imperative that you don’t gloss past this question. Take the time to think through it and write it down. Remember, these are fears that reside in your thoughts of the future, not in present reality.
2. What will happen if I give in to this fear?
Try to look 5-10 years down the road and ask yourself what life will look like if you give in to fear and don’t take action. Let’s say you haven’t applied for that position you want because you’re afraid of rejection. What will your life look like in 10 years? How miserable might you be? How much will your quality of life suffer because you haven’t been doing what you love? What will your bank account look like? Will you be able to afford the things you really want to do in life? Will you look back, filled with regret for not putting yourself out there? Allow yourself to envision it so well that you can feel the emotions that come along with that future version of your life. This will become powerful motivation for taking the steps that will move you forward
3. What steps must I take and how soon?
Determine what steps you must take to move forward and put them on your calendar. Using our example of applying for a new position or job; set aside time to polish your resume by putting it in your calendar. Give yourself a deadline for turning in your application and stick to that deadline. Decide EXACTLY what you want that process to look like and make it happen by carving out that time in your calendar.
What haven’t you done because of fear? How is fear holding you back? Don’t get paralyzed and stuck from fear. Make it your friend and use it to move towards what you desire most.
If you would like help exploring your fears, drilling down, and determining your next steps, I offer one-on-one coaching. I would be glad to have an initial conversation to see if working with me is right for you. You can inquire here.