Category Archives: fear

What If the Fear Isn’t Going Anywhere?

What if you knew, without a doubt, that the fear you feel about going after what you want isn’t going anywhere, ever?

Our lizard brains are experts at making us believe we’re in mortal danger if we even think about pushing through the fear, anxiety and adrenaline, aren’t they? No wonder we all try to wait until the fear is gone before taking a step forward with the stuff we REALLY want. I know I do that allthefuckingtime.

That’s why it took me 5+ years to go from wanting to become a coach, to becoming one.

And why it took me 2+ years from the time I graduated training to launching my business.

And it’s also why — to this very day — I have a hard time talking about what I do. I don’t know if it’s impostor syndrome or if I’m convinced I’ll be ridiculed for choosing such a non-left-brained profession (or maybe some of both)…all I know is that if I try to tell someone about what I do and how I help, it’s a full-on stumble-and-stammer-fest.

For me, and maybe for you, too, fear has become a false indicator of readiness, and even worthiness.

My reasoning goes like this:

I’m scared, so I must not be ready.
I’m not ready, so I must not have prepared fully.
I didn’t prepare fully, so I must not be taking this seriously.
I’m not taking this seriously, so I’m not worthy of getting what I want (so why bother trying?).

It’s an ugly chain of false beliefs, all starting with the assumption that it’s possible to be without fear when it comes to doing what matters most.

But what if that just isn’t possible? What if being afraid is part of pursuing something important? And part of being human? And the fear isn’t going anywhere?

If I wait for the fear to leave, I will never do the thing my heart wants, the thing I believe I’m here to do.

I’m left with two options:

1. Abandon my dream

2. Figure out how to step forward despite the fear

The idea of “feel the fear and do it anyway” is not a new concept, of course. For some reason, though, a conversation with Suzanne Ragan Lentz about this idea allowed it to sink more deeply into my bones.

So…if I know that the fear will always be with me to one degree or another, which option do I choose?

I want to go with the second one. (I may not always succeed, but that’s the one I’m committed to.)

I feel like I say this here all the time, but it’s a practice.

Just like in meditation, where you let your thought float by and come back to your breath, you let your fear float by and come back to the truth of who you are and what you want, and step forward.

There is no magic pill. There is no amount of time you can wait to avoid the practice.

You practice by doing. And by trying again even if you let fear drive the bus for a while.

How to practice this

But how am I going to practice this? How will you?

It will look different for everyone, and it’ll depend on what you’re afraid of.

For me, it will mean pushing myself to talk more about what I do, rather than hiding.

For you, it might mean hitting the publish button more, or saying no to opportunities that aren’t quite what you want. It might mean risking pissing off your family in order to do a better job of meeting your needs for self-care, or enforcing your boundaries with clients and co-workers.

Here’s what I want you to know

I know it’s hard. (Believe me, I know.)

It’s normal. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or the thing you’re trying to do.

Being afraid says nothing about who you are or what you’re capable of. It doesn’t mean you’re not ready, or unworthy.

Fear just is, and we each have to choose, over and over again, to move forward in spite of it.

I’m tired of waiting for the fear to go away. How about you?

The right support can make it much easier to practice moving forward despite the scariness of it. Here are some ways I can help.

Dealing with Fear

Note: This post refers a lot to Thing-Finding, but if you’ve already found your Thing, try reading it with your business or a big project in mind.

By far, the most common questions I wound up receiving for last week’s free teleclass were about dealing with fear.

There were lots of different fears that people mentioned:

Fear of failure
Fear of overwhelm
Fear of losing a stable income
Fear of not being able to handle the new skills required of them
Fear of going after their Thing and still winding up unhappy
Fear that everything will change

I’ve experienced every single one of those at some point or another. Some of them I’ve experience today.

Let’s get real about Fear.

1. Fear will (most likely) always be there.

I say “most likely” because I refuse to rule out the possibility that one could reach a point where fear is a non-issue. Maybe that’s what “enlightenment” is.

But for now, I know I still deal with it. And pretty much everyone I know deals with it.

It’s part of doing stuff that takes you outside your comfort zone.

2. Fear is not a good indicator of whether you’ve found your Thing or not.

I used to think that when I’d found my Thing, it would be easy to create a business around it.

Ha!

I delayed starting my business for nearly two years because of that belief.

3. Every single one of the fears I listed above comes from getting ahead of yourself.

You – right now – have a certain skill-set and set of past experiences that (naturally) inform what you believe is possible for you.

If in your heart you think you want to move to Bali and start a cage-free Kopi Luwak farm, but all your adult life you’ve worked as a technical writer for a big company, of course it’s going to feel like an impossible transition.

The fear comes from trying to figure out how you’ll get what you want in one big step, without all the little steps in between.

4. There are parts of you that know the Truth.

The truth is:

The Universe is on your side and wants you to succeed. (And your commitment helps it to conspire on your behalf.)

When you want something – like to find your Thing – it’s because you’re aligning with what your soul already knows about what you want and what you can have.

See also: You wouldn’t want it if you couldn’t have it.

So if the fear doesn’t go away, but it’s stopping you from finding your Thing, what can you do?

5. You can learn how to move forward despite the fear.

It all comes down to learning.

Learn how to strengthen your connection with the parts of yourself that know the truth.

Learn how to process all the emotions that come up when you hang out at the edge of your comfort zone.

Learn how to give yourself safety so you can explore your potential Thing without scaring the shit out of yourself.

These are all skills you can learn.

By exploring safely (one manageable step at a time), you’ll build a history of positive experiences with that Thing.

You’ll also build a body of evidence that doing something a little bit scary turns out okay (and is totally worth it).

The rush of joy you feel from working on your Thing will help sustain you when you’re trembling at having to put yourself out there in a new and uncomfortable way.

And that’s what will help you make more progress despite the fear.

You don’t need to get over yourself or just do it.

That’s why I created Exploring the Shmorian Thing-Finding Methodology.

I’ll be sharing the tools that will help you know what you want, manage the fear and explore safely.

Exploring the Shmorian Thing-Finding Methodology starts on Wednesday, 6/29. And there’s still time to get in on the early registration price (but only through Friday, 6/24). I hope you’ll join us.

When Selves Collide

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably already know that I like to talk to my blocks and various selves (à la Havi and Hiro). Here’s a little story about some insight I gained by doing this seemingly wacky stuff.

Lately I’ve been feeling completely overwhelmed and tired and generally down, leading to a heavy case of the Blahhhhs. (Yes, that’s the medical term.)

I was so completely devoid of motivation that I wasn’t even able to meditate or journal about it.

Finally, yesterday I got myself to do a little Dance of Shiva and then meditate.

The question I asked before starting to dance was, “What needs to shift in order to stop feeling so stuck?”

A few minutes of Level 4 was about all I could handle, followed by some savasana.

Once I started meditating, I dropped into my heart, and tried to meet with some of my selves, to see if I could get a handle on why I was having such a hard time.

I can’t share much detail right now, but part of why I’m having a hard time is because there are certain things I have to do that I no longer want to do. And when things get difficult during the things-I-don’t-want-to-do, I’ve been having extreme emotional reactions. Despair, anxiety, hopelessness, powerlessness.

Not much was happening amongst my selves, so I focused my attention on whichever self it was who was creating these strong reactions.

Enter Self #1

I don’t know what this self looks like (no defining characteristics like my friend Hedgehog Girl). But pretty quickly I sensed that this self was creating these strong reactions so that I’ll hurry up and make the changes necessary so that I won’t have to do that icky stuff anymore.

She’s afraid that if she stops giving me these unpleasant reactions, I’ll just coast along. The change I want to make will never happen, because I’ll be too comfortable.

Hmmm…interesting.

So I thanked her for caring about me. And for believing that I can make the necessary changes. And especially for her wanting to support me in making this change.

(And I wasn’t just blowing smoke, either. There’s something surprisingly touching about having a part of yourself doing what it can to make sure you accomplish the things you want.)

Then I explained that these extreme emotional reactions are draining me of my energy. And when my energy is drained, I can’t do what I need to do to make the changes I want to make.

I asked her, “What kind of agreement can we make, so that you know I’m making these changes as fast as possible, and you’re not helping me in a way that actually slows me down?”

Silence.

And then I got, “It’s not just me.”

For a second I didn’t know what that meant, but then I realized there were two selves at play.

Hello, Self #2

Self #1 was creating the strong reactions in hopes that I would hurry up and make this change.

But Self #2 was drafting off of those reactions, and keeping me from channeling that desire for change into action toward change.

Because Self #2 is afraid of what the change will mean for me and this (mostly) comfortable life I have. She prefers the devil she knows.

Both of these selves are actually trying to protect me, even though they’re going about it in opposite ways.

One is trying to protect me from withering away in stagnation, the other from taking crazy risks that will put me in danger.

That’s about as far as I got with that meditation before my mind started to wander. But it’s a good start toward unravelling this stuck.

The next step will be to try to help them both see that their attempts to help are actually hurting. And then it will be time to find out what they will need to feel safe enough to back off and cut me some slack.

The beauty of it is, even before they’ve started giving me breathing room, I feel better.

Now when if I have an over-reaction to the things I no longer want to do, I’ll know what it’s about. And I’ll know why it’s so hard to recover and get cracking.

Reaching that point of not beating myself up or asking myself why why why for not doing the things I want to do is a huge step toward changing the pattern.