How many times have you pulled back from doing something because you felt scared? How often have you told yourself that you will feel more comfortable, safe or secure sitting on the sidelines? Surely it’s better than the horrible uncomfortable feeling that floods your body, or the anxiety that rises when you start to feel scared?
Or is it?
The biggest lie we tell ourselves when we feel scared is that by sitting on the sidelines we are safe. But what does ‘being safe’ actually mean?
We seek safety and security in response to a threat...a real threat. I have worked with refugees and know with certainty that there are times in people’s lives when fear is a result of very real threats, such as an imminent threat of death or violence.
However, we often misinterpret threat with the feeling we experience when life bumps up against our lack of self-belief.
Very rarely are our ‘every day’ fears related to real threats. How many times have you feared something that never happened?
The confusing part is that we experience fear as if it was a serious threat. What our experience is, however, is our response to being confronted by our own sense of limitations. “Am I smart enough to do this, or will I look stupid and be embarrassed?” “Can I cope? Am I strong enough, or will I fall into a big heap and not know how to get back up again?”
How we answer these questions shapes our lives entirely.
In life we are either expanding or contracting. We expand when we challenge our self-limiting beliefs and begin to step out and try new things. We expand our sense of self by challenging what we believe is possible. We expand when we accept that we will feel uncomfortable and that we will fail, knowing that this process is vital if we want to live our lives with meaning and depth.
We contract, however, when we continually choose to sit on the sidelines, believing that feeling scared is a sign to step back, believing that we are safer when we feel comfortable. The truth is we aren’t safer.
We aren’t physically safer, considering the most dangerous thing we do each day, driving a car, we do with little concern or anxiety. Our fears around physical safety are often overinflated. Our fears around emotional safety are also overemphasised.
While it’s never pleasant to be embarrassed or to get something wrong, it’s not a ‘life or death’ situation. In fact those unpleasant feelings can be a springboard into growth and expansion if we are willing to learn from them.
The more we expose ourselves to things that scare us the more confident we become. We begin to discover that we cope remarkably well and that our fears are often unfounded.
Letting fear define your life doesn’t make you safe it just makes you feel safe. The trade off is a life half-lived.
Your challenge this week:
What is one thing you would love to achieve this year if weren’t so scared? What is stopping you? Are they real reasons? What is one step you could take to start moving forward?
To get you started I will share with you my answer;
I would like to publish a book this year. What is stopping me is the fear that I won’t have the energy to do it and it won’t be successful. I know these fears are real possibilities but they aren’t real reasons why I shouldn’t get started.
My first action is to start looking into publishing options. I will also start talking with people who have successfully published a book and will start writing a book outline. These are fairly simple and easy steps and I am already excited about taking action on something I have wanted to do for years.
So how about you? Leave your answer in the comment section below...I look forward to reading them.
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xxx Jess xxx