My two all-time favorite childhood books were “Where the Wild Things Are” and Sesame Street’s, “The Monster at the end of this Book” It is safe to surmise I have had a lifelong fascination with fear and I didn’t even know it.
Fear has an incredible impact on both the body and brain. There is much written on the science behind fear, so I won’t go there today. Anyone who has been frozen in fear knows that freezing is just one of the possible responses. And fear can be hold one back for years……
A Perfect Example
It took me nearly five years before I finally pulled the trigger on moving to another part of the state. I’d lived in the same area for nearly 30 years. I built all my businesses in this area, all my friends lived local and I raised my son here.
I’d been whining and complaining for years that I felt like I was dying on a vine and that I wanted to leave the area. Read that first part again, I was whining and complaining for years!
Because I was frozen in fear about actually making such a radical change to my life.
(A huge thanks to all my friends who tolerated me during this period of whining and complaining. I was not pleasant to be around and know that now.)
I wanted this big change in my life but had no idea what it would look like. What if making this move is a mistake? What if I don’t like the area I chose to move to? What if I am unable to make new friends and what if I can’t build a professional network? So many what-ifs. Every single one of them unknown, weighing on me and holding me in place. In fear.
Consider any of these scenarios where fear can freeze you:
-unexpectedly offered a new opportunity where your success is not guaranteed, and you need to give them an answer accept or decline in a short time frame.
-you’ve a gem of an idea you know will be a great money maker and talk about it constantly to friends, but you’ve made no attempts over the years to move the idea forward into an attainable goal.
-You’ve been asked to speak on a topic you are an expert on, but you’ve never spoken from a stage.
-You are miserable in your (insert career, marriage, etc) but are doing nothing about changing this situation and simply feel ‘stuck’.
-you want to move because you are now an empty-nester and the community where you currently live, no longer feels like home.
That last one was me. And I had no idea it was fear holding me back.
How did I figure it out? My coach (yes, even coaches have coaches!) smacked me upside the head and threw my own words back at me; “You are not allowed to bitch about things you have the power to change. It is time for you to act. Now what are you going to do?” And then she sat there silently letting her words sink in and giving me space to process what she said.
She was right. We had already spent several coaching sessions re-defining my values and what was important for me to have in the new community I wanted to move to. I was ready. And stalling.
She got me to confront every one of my ‘what-if’ fears and move into action.
I began to research destinations in earnest and started to visit the communities that met most of my values for weekend getaways. I started purging my home and prepping to put on the market. I set a date to put my house on the market and told everyone I was finally pulling the trigger and moving. I was in action and excited!
4 quick and effective ways to get your butt into action again
So how does one get back into action when frozen in fear? Here are 4 sure fire suggestions to try the next time Fear has you frozen in place.
Stir the fear pot:
By stirring up the pot I mean for you to really confront your fear. Really think on and analyze the situation. Call out and put a name to whatever it is that you are fearful of in that situation. This is a powerful exercise and is a lot like turning a light on in a dark room. You can suddenly see your fear for what it is. Fear is often simply a fear of the unknown, and by knowing it is fear you can look at it from different angles to help you find a way forward.
Fear always leads me down the path of negative self-talk and brings the gremlins swirling around my head, whispering horrible messages into my ear. Gremlins and negative self-talk are detrimental to our psyche when we are trying to identify or move through any sort of challenge. They make us doubt ourselves! Transitioning to positive self-talk begins with flicking the gremlins off your shoulder and flipping your negative thoughts into positive ones.
For example, “I am not qualified to go after such a big job” to “I’ve got the right foundational mix of skills and experience to make me a great candidate for this big job” or “I can’t possibly present my findings to a room of my peers, I’ve never presented from a stage before” to “Wow, what a great opportunity to present my findings to my peers. I’m going to want to brush up on my public speaking skills so I look like a rock star up there”
Call a friend/your coach:
Sometimes a good old fashion drill down conversation with a trusted friend or adviser helps you to identify the cause of your fear. Seriously. A single conversation can completely alleviate your fear.
This entire article came to me because a friend expressed to me a fear of going to networking events alone. She shared story after story about why she dreads going to them and I kept pushing her (the coach in me) with questions to drill deeper into her ‘why’ behind this fear. Ultimately she was able to recognize she was afraid of rejection. Once she realized that rejection wasn’t even on the table at networking events, she was able to change how she looks at them. She now recognizes her fear and dread over going to these events solo as baseless. She is now ready to go into the next one with a completely different attitude.
Put your fear to paper:
Giving words to your fear often takes away it’s power (again, like turning the light on in a dark room). Depending on what is driving the fear, make lists of pros and cons, write down what could possibly go right, and what could possibly go wrong. Putting things in writing puts things into perspective. It provides a visual and clarity.
Where you might get stuck:
We all have a difficult time recognizing or admitting that fear is impacting us. That first step is by far the hardest. Simply admitting it to yourself. Recognize it and call it by name. Once this step is taken, it is much easier to start working through it. Be like Grover. Turn the page and keep moving forward. Chances are you will realize there really was nothing there to fear to begin with.
But Rachelle, what about your move? Finish the story!
I ultimately picked a city 4.5 hours away on the opposite coast of the state where I didn’t know a soul and had no professional network. I traded heavy traffic for barely any traffic, the concrete jungle office for a toes-in-the-sand office. That was 3 years ago. I’ve built a wonderful circle of friends, have plugged into a great professional network, volunteer often and best of all, this community meets 8 out of my 10 value requirements. Yes, I have found my new home. I also found there was never anything to fear….except fear itself.
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