Lately, I have been hearing a lot of talk about fear of failure/ success/ embarrassment/ the unknown/ loss/ making the wrong decision etc. and how it is holding us back from going for what we really want in our lives.
In fact, you have probably heard me talk about how fear has been holding me back in my own life. To be honest with you, I come up against my own fears all the time and then work hard to not let fear be in the driver seat of my life (which I imagine takes place in an open-roof Jeep Wrangler, but anyway…).
Today, I want to challenge this topic of fear being the ultimate villain in our lives.
Fear in and of itself is NOT the problem. I believe that fear is a pretty natural reaction because it keeps us from making decisions solely based on impulse, and instead slows us down a bit and makes us think about (and in the ideal cases, FEEL INTO) what it is that we really want to do in pivotal moments in our lives.
Think of your ambition or your ‘love for something’ and your fear as business partners who are trying to figure out, which steps make the most sense. Your ambition-voice is the visionary, the optimist, the connector and your fear-voice is the realist, the numbers-guy/gal, the one who pays careful attention to details. In an ideal setting your ambition-voice and your fear-voice would sit down at the table together, share a chocolate croissant, take all the information they have, and digest it thoroughly –in the rational mind and in the intuitive gut. Together, they would make the best and most sustainable decisions, don't you agree?
All that to say, that I do not believe that fear itself is killing your soul and creating ever-lasting stuckness for you.
But if not fear, then what?
Doubt results when fear is channeled incorrectly, when fear is the only voice that shows up for your business meeting, when your ambition-voice or your ‘love for something’-voice is tucked away, silenced, and labeled as “ridiculous,” “unrealistic,” or “too big for someone like yourself.”
When your fear is not recognized as a gentle reminder to weigh your options carefully, but instead is interpreted as an evil voice that says “You don’t have what it takes,” you create an internal environment that is dominated by doubt.
Self-doubt to be specific.
And self-doubt is what gives rise to negative self-talk and to a split deep within yourself that keeps you small, insufficient, and stuck. Doubt is the invisible hand that is keeping you from moving forward. Doudtfulness is one of the core things I help my clients to overcome, so that movement can happen and the voice of fear doesn't remain the dominant one.
Before I give you simple steps for how you can begin to move out of the realm of self-doubt and step into clarity and self-love, I have to give credit to Agapi Stassinopoulos for raising my awareness for the role doubt plays. Last weekend, at the S.H.E. Summit Conference, I witnessed Agapi speak… or should I say perform. I have never ever seen a powerhouse of a woman take the stage like Agapi did. Theatrical and full of humor. Loving and charged with a zest for life like only a true Greek actress-turned-inspirational speaker can be.
But now, back to why you are reading this post: if you are struggling with stuckness and experience doubt, I would like to encourage you to try the following steps.
1) Get really clear about what is at the root of your doubts? What part of your fear-voice is speaking too loudly? Write this down no matter how ridiculous it might sound. Seeing it written down will get it out of your body and you can begin to release the silent tension that is pinching away inside of you.
2) Then, write down what your ambition-voice or your ‘love for something’-voice is saying. What dream or yours gave rise to your fear-voice in the first place? How badly do you want this dream? How would your life be different?
3) Take a deep breath and exhale completely. Then read over your answers from above and absorb both sides of the story, both voices that are currently tucking at opposite ends of the doubt question. Read them to yourself with a gentle, neutral voice as if you were the mediator between two parties and wanted to resolve their conflict.
4) Find the courage to make a decision. The word “courage” comes from the latin word “cor” which means “heart” and is a metaphor for inner strength. So finding the courage really means finding your inner strength, which resides in your heart. So instead of making a decision based on willpower and forcefulness, tune into your heart and make a choice in kind and loving support of yourself. Everything you need to know is there already.
5) Stick with a choice and don’t revert back to doubtfulness as soon as the first hurdle hits. Nothing is ever free of challenges or unexpected surprises. That’s just how life is. So, embark on your chosen path with an open mind and a committed heart. Nothing in my life has ever turned out exactly the way I thought it would. And that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t have been able to dream up all the great things that did happen, even if I tried.
In the comments below, I would love to know: do you struggle with doubt? What choices are you putting off because you are doubting yourself?
Sending you the courage to explore YOUR courage!