I work a lot with fear. Fear in my clients, usually expressed as imposter syndrome. And my own fear as I walk my own journey into the unknown.
I’m no stranger to fear. Fear often sits with me on a daily, and even hourly, basis. As I go about expanding my skills and experiences it is all accompanied by fear.
Now I have finished my Masters and handed in my final research report there’s even more fear.
Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of fear. Bone numbing, head to toe, white cold fear. And it is really very tempting to let fear hold me back – and truthfully sometimes it does – at least sometimes it slows me down. But I try to let fear guide me forwards instead of holding me back. But it is not easy – but it is a pathway to personal growth.
I take comfort from the fact that it’s not just me that’s dealing with fear. All of the clients I have worked with so far as a coach admit to dealing with fear. Some more and some less – but fear nevertheless. On the range of business and professional Facebook groups I belong to, dealing with fear is a common discussion. Even super slick highly trained professionals earning a gazillion dollars an hour admit to facing fear.
Some call it lack of self-confidence or anxiety or nervousness. Some even call it excitement. But whatever the name, it all boils down to feeling fear of some description.
So it’s not just me – and it’s not just you.
Fear, as unpleasant as it is, is just part of the human condition – particularly associated with growth and change.
Why is this?
Fear keeps us safe
Fear, on a simple level, is a self-protective mechanism. It is useful by generally stopping us from putting our lives at risk with activities such as handling poisonous snakes or jumping out of planes (although there are of course those amongst us who thrive on that sort of challenge).
We read fear as a signal that something is wrong – and it triggers caution. All to keep us safe. This is probably fair enough for physical dangers. But the problem is fear also pops up whenever we step out of our comfort zone for any reason.
Start looking for a new job – fear.
Want to start writing a blog – fear.
Want to invite a new friend over for coffee – fear.
Want to buy a new house – fear.
Want to quit your job and follow your heart – fear.
Pretty much any new thing we want to do that pushes us out of comfort zones and encourages us to grown and expand our horizons is accompanied by…fear.
So the correct response is to do what we can to remove fear before we act right?? Nothing could be more wrong.
Trust in your fear
Think about this: If every time an opportunity for growth brings fear – then fear must be signal you are going the right direction for your personal development.
Did you get that? Where there is fear – that is the place we are meant to go.
So when fear pops up in your life the best way to manage is to step forward in that direction – because the fear is telling you that is where you are meant to go.
Fear is not something to be afraid of…it is something to met with excitement.
When your adrenalin is flowing, your heart starts pumping faster, and you begin to sweat – use that energy to empower your steps in the direction you want to go. Without the fear you could only reach half as far.
Use fear wisely
So feel the fear and use it to reach your goals. And get used to it. As long as you are growing fear will be there.
Don’t let fear paralyse you – let it energise you instead.
It doesn’t matter so much whether you take giant leaps, baby steps or micro steps. Do one tiny thing a day in the direction you wish to go and you are winning.
Let fear bring you hope and courage and power…And then you can do more than you ever thought possible.
Please note: I am not talking about the the of fear that interferes with your life so much that you can’t get done what you need to do – if fear has reached the point that it really paralyses you, then seek professional help. That too is using fear wisely.
NB: this blog was originally published a few years ago as “Using fear to guide you forwards” on an old blog that is lying dormant. On rereading it seems just as relevant now as it was then. So republishing with a few edits and a new title.