Phil’s Note: This is the first post by new TFGL contributor Ginger Kern- enjoy :)
It was my birthday.
The first email I opened that day was entitled, “Wanted: Co-Pilot for The Feel Good Lifestyle.”
This one guy named Phil was looking for a person to get on board with The Feel Good Lifestyle website.
I read his email from start to finish and felt an immediate pull to respond. I figured I could help out with the site by contributing articles, which would free up some of his time and give me a fantastic opportunity to hone a passion of mine.
Then a hesitation kicked in.
What if I write crappy posts and his readership goes down? What if people think I’m a shitty writer?
And then the counter-reaction I’ve been practicing for the past three years, the conscious decision to kick fear out, came next.
I’m afraid of doing this, so I actually have to do it!
I wrote my application and sent it off to Phil. After a thorough interview on Skype I ended up in a small team of enthusiastic individuals, and now I’m writing this post, which almost never came to be!
The story above is just a quick example of how I kicked fear out when it was stopping me from moving forward on something I actually felt great about. Now let’s do the same for you: I want you to replace “what ifs” with “why nots” and step up to the plate every time it counts.
Acknowledge the Foundation of Your Fear
The enemy is fear. We think it is hate, but it is fear. ~Gandhi
Think back to your childhood or your early teenage years. You were probably taught to fear certain things at a young age, whether it was out of self-preservation (e.g. the neighbor’s rabid dog) or out of social self-preservation (e.g. that girl in your class who could crush your self-confidence with a single scathing comment).
At some point, you were taught to fear more consequential things, situations that could potentially affect years of your life…failing college entrance exams (or getting less than spectacular grades), losing your job, etc.
You probably even said no to something out of fear for what it might mean for your future. This might have been an opportunity, or even a relationship, where you saw value and potential, but felt something internally that was holding you back…
Start to Confront Your Fear Head-on
Last week, Phil included the following quote in his newest post:
“Your fear is always about what’s going to happen next, it means that your fear is about what does not exist. If you’re suffering the non-existential, we call that insanity.” ~Sadguru
Think about that for a second. Your fear is about what does not exist.
Luckily, that means you’re perfectly normal. Everyone feels fear. If an idea or a thing induces fear, it’s because it takes you out of your comfort zone, into uncharted territories and possibilities.
The thing is, when fear of what’s about to happen next becomes the thing that’s holding you back from actually doing what’s going to happen next, you have to think of it as your enemy, as Gandhi did. You want something, but fear (often rooted in that social self-preservation instinct) is stopping you from getting it.
So how do you defeat this enemy? Confront it. The conscious realization that YOU ARE AFRAID is the first step towards freedom from the fear itself.
Kick Your Fear Out and Let Your Greatness Grow
Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out. ~Karl Augustus Menninger
Let’s go back to the difference between self-preservation (a.k.a. doing/not doing something because of your instinct to stay alive) and social self-preservation (when you’re doing/not doing something because of your instinct to save face, no matter how unhappy it actually makes you).
If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably well-fed, reasonably educated, and not really a person who is put in truly life-threatening situations on a daily basis. (Unless you’re a firefighter or a deep-sea fisherman or something. In that case, mad props to you.) So don’t worry, you can do this. Confronting your fear won’t kill you!
It’s time to do some self-brainwashing. You’re going to override the hesitant, fearful response in your brain, and make yourself do something outside of your comfort zone. It’s going to be GREAT.
Check out this mantra, and burn it into your memory:
I am afraid of _____. But it’s holding me back from being/doing something AWESOME. I’m going to ______ anyway, because I’m afraid of it.
Follow up: double-check the motivation behind your decisions
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Okay, I know, what El-Roo is talking about is easier said than done. But here’s a super-useful tool that you can use to check if you’re on the road to greatness…
In whatever you’re currently doing, in whatever you’re wavering on, for whatever decision you’re trying to make, is it
As in, when you think about whatever your current situation is, whatever you’re dealing with, are you doing what you are doing because you’re afraid of something? Or are you doing it because you are passionate, hopeful, and love doing it?
When you do a mental check-in while you’re making a decision, you’ll start to recognize the difference between your own fear-based actions and your love-based ones.
Why is this so important?
Because you know this: when you get scared or insecure and say NO, what you’re left with are pesky “what if’s”, regrets, and a feeling that you didn’t step up…You miss out on the opportunity for growth, and just get left with stagnation and a funky feeling in your chest…
When you do step up and say YES, you open yourself to unthinkably awesome experiences, learning, and possibilities…Phil and I agree: something good pretty much comes out of it every single time!
What decision have you made lately that led you to unhappiness or disappointment? Was it something that you didn’t do because you were afraid? Or something you did because you thought you had to / you were afraid of what someone else would think?
Here’s your task: the next time an important situation arises and your confidence or decision-making power wavers, think: am I making this choice out of fear of something that might happen? Or am I doing it because my (insert: brain/heart/soul) feels positive, fulfilled, passionate?
This was my first time writing a post for The Feel Good Lifestyle…I’d love to hear your thoughts! How have you stepped up to the plate lately? What fears have you been kicking out? What advice would you give someone whose greatness is being held back by a little bit of fear?
Please leave a comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and fill me in!
About the Author
Ginger is a Peak Performance Coach and the Feel Good Team’s resident nomad. Through her coaching, she helps you navigate major transitions, whether to new locations, new jobs or to new phases in life. Ginger also coordinates with writers for The Feel Good Lifestyle so that you have fresh, inspiring content.