We’ve all been there. Scared, worried, and afraid. Not sure how something will play out, not sure if we can handle what lies ahead. Fear is a powerful player in our lives. It often acts as a big red stop sign, saying “No, turn back! Danger ahead. You can’t do this!” Fear can be pretty convincing, but here are seven things I want you to remember when you’re afraid.
1. Fear is normal. Yep, you got it; fear is a normal part of human life. Fear is what happens when we step outside our comfort zones or attempt something with anything less than certainty. Fear doesn’t mean you’re weak or anxious; it means you’re a human.
2. You can be afraid and still move forward. While fear and uncertainty aren’t pleasant, they are tolerable. I often hear clients thinking that they need to work through and eliminate all their fear, then move forward. I’m a big believer that no matter how much work we do, there will still be a little bit of fear left lingering. Move forward anyway.
3. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. I know, I probably sound like your grandpa saying this, but it’s true. Nothing good, meaningful, or valuable comes without a little bit (or a lot) of fear. If you want to cultivate a rich and meaningful life, you’re going to have to work for it. The good stuff isn’t easy, but oh is it awesome.
4. Your thoughts are not the truth. My clients could probably attest to how strongly I believe this, because I remind them (and myself) of this often. Fear can be pretty sneaky, tricking you into thinking it knows the future with 100% certainty. “It won’t work out; your boss won’t give you the raise; your friend won’t accept your apology.” Our anxious thoughts can be so convincing, and while they’re important to be mindful of, they are rarely, if ever, the truth.
5. You don’t have to figure it all out now; you can take one, small step at a time. So many of us feel pressured to have steps A through Z figured out before we even take step A. Not only is this unnecessary and unrealistic, this way of thinking keeps us stuck. Just focus on taking one, small step at a time, reevaluating and recalibrating as you go.
6. You’ve felt afraid before, and you’ve made it through. You have totally been afraid before, and you’ve totally made it through. Stop and think about some specific instances where this is true. Reminding yourself of these times when you’ve been afraid but persevered will help you in the current situation. Don’t just take my word for it; look at previous examples from your own life!
7. See fear as a “proceed with caution” sign, not a stop sign. Fear is an important cue, and I’m not advocating that we ignore it completely. Being mindful of fear and teasing it apart is an important part of the work. I see so many people, however, looking at fear as a stop sign or sometimes even a “detour/turn around” sign. Try to see fear as a “proceed with caution” sign, evaluating what happens as you move forward. My guess? It won’t be as awful as you’re predicting.
Fear is major y’all, but it doesn’t have you run the show. You’ve got that job. And I believe in you.
Want more info on how to deal with fear? Check out this post. It’s a big one.