If you want the short version, then I can say in one sentence what I’ve learnt about fear: It doesn’t go away. But I can also tell you that fear doesn’t have to prevent you from going for the things in life that make your heart sing.
The other day I was having coffee with a lovely friend. She complimented me for knowing exactly what I want and just going for it seemingly without any fear. Then she asked me “Are you ever afraid?” and I was like “Oh my God, yes, all the time.” I know that I’ve done some things that are risky like moving to the other side of the world and setting myself up to be self-employed. These days I’m in greater extent saying no to things that just doesn’t feel like a full match and pursuing what I really want.
But there are days when I wake up in the middle of the night and feel anxious about the future, where my heart beats fast and my whole chest contracts. There are times where I feel low and down and spend a full day binge watching some random series while trying to numb out the feeling of incapability. There’s that small voice of doubt and uncertainty that often shows up. Then there are the days where I spend way too much time comparing myself to others who seemingly look like they have it all together and easily make everything happen.
And that, my friend, is the biggest lie that I think our social media driven world is constantly feeding.
I love this sentence that I’ve seen quoted in many different places:
”Never compare your inside with someone else's outside.”
I use it as a reminder and a mantra when I get sucked into comparison.
A week ago I was having a session with my wonderful business coach Caroline Leon, and I spent most of the session crying and voicing my fears about failing and how I’ve recently felt an uncomfortable gap between my social media appearance and the professional reality I’m living. It’s not to say that I’m putting anything out there that isn’t true, but social media does feel like a place of highlights and often more polished appearances than what real life offers.
I’m in the middle of a big professional transition where my focus now is to share all that I’ve learned and studied for the last five years in the field of mindfulness, embodiment and coaching. It feels scary and uncomfortable to go for what I’m most passionate about. The stakes feel higher because “What if I fail?” To be honest, that’s my greatest fear at the moment, that I just won’t succeed doing what I love. Well, I guess it’s just one of those things where there's no guarantee. All I can do is keep taking action and trusting myself. Some days it’s easy and some days – like the one I had recently – easy is exactly what it isn’t.
What makes it easier is to actually say that aloud and share with people how I truly feel and realize that it’s a common human experience. To see how we all breathe just a bit deeper when that tight grip of trying to have it all together loosens.
The key for me has been to acknowledge the fear, but I don't let it stop me from taking action.
What has helped me to feel the fear and do it anyway:
• Reading about and talking to other people about how fear shows up in their lives
• Acknowledging the fear when it’s present
• To have people I can voice my fears to, without being judged or having to be fixed
• Becoming aware that the voice of fear will keep showing up, and learning to identify it, so it doesn’t hold that much power over me
I keep coming back to how writer Elizabeth Gilbert describes fear as a passenger in her car. She invites it along and gives it a seat but she just doesn’t allow it to drive. I love that. It makes so much sense to me, and it's a way to stay in my power.
How does fear show up in your life? I'd love to hear in the comments below.