how fear ran my life and how we can overcome it
How Fear Ran My Life
Have you ever tried something new and felt afraid? Fear is a natural part of our experience when we are stepping out into a world we haven’t known.
I am not sure if you know this about me, but I was a fearful little kiddo. Especially when it came to people or being in the spotlight. And sure, I had my rebellious moments of being the center of attention. But mostly I was afraid. I can still remember vividly arriving late to school in 7th grade. I was opening the classroom door as slowly as I could so that nobody would notice me. I even held my breath! Of course it didn’t work. I remember my face flushing red as all of the eyes turned towards me…I felt like I was going to have a panic attack.
When it came to our school’s singing performances, I would strangely “become ill” about an hour or two before I had to be heading to the auditorium. And oh boy, did I give that sickness performance 100%. Sometimes I was successful and stayed home. And other times, I remember being coerced to finally get into the van to go to school. God bless my parents!
Growing up, I missed out on countless valuable growing moments. And I would refuse to step out and face my fears.
Fear ran my life.
Fast-forward to graduating high school. I ended up deciding to leave my Iowa roots and head to a college in Nebraska where I knew nobody! Talk about facing my fears! What drove me forward was knowing deep-down in my heart that I wanted to reach for the stars and I saw this as a great opportunity.
Little did I know that the young girl who was too shy to enter a classroom or perform, would be the same young woman who would blossom into a public speaker with crowds of up to 700 people. I would end up speaking all over the United States and Kenya! I actually loved it! And I still love doing it! That is what I call transformation! How would I have discovered my speaking talents and this passion if I had never faced my fear? It took taking the risk!
What changed? I started to realize the reward of stepping out of my comfort zone.
I started to realize that the initial growing pains were worth the joy of stepping into my dreams. I had missed out on enough of life’s opportunities! And I was not willing to let myself sit on the sidelines anymore. Nope.
Between where we are now and what we would love, fear is often posing as the gate-keeper. And “as we encounter this border, our fear will say things like, “I am going to make sure you do not lose your money again,” or “I am going to make sure you never get your heart broken again,” or “I am going to make sure nobody ever takes advantage of you again.” When we hear the voice of fear, it is often in disguise and will appear to be protecting us.” (Mary Morrissey) But don’t fall for it!
What fear wants to help you do is keep the status-quo. These instincts for preservation want to help you create a mediocre life that keeps you comfortable. Comfortable in a way that you won’t risk anything. To do the same routine over and over again everyday, until your time is up.
But if I can take a guess. You, like most people including me, most likely have a deep desire to live a fulfilling life doing what you love with the people you care about. And that you would relish in a lifetime spent using your gifts and talents! And I am here to tell you that you can.
What it takes is befriending your fear and kicking it out of the driver’s seat.
A key foundation in building your dreams is stepping forward, even in the presence of fear. An important practice is to recognize when we have fear in the first place vs. avoiding it. Simply acknowledge it. The beautiful part in changing our perception of fear is that we can end up using fear to our advantage as added motivation!
Through this simple awareness exercise, let’s look and see if fear is preventing you from taking steps towards living a life you love living.
Journal the following set of questions for 3 different dreams you have:
1. What is your dream?
2. What is your fear related to that dream?
3. Is fear preventing action? (yes or no)
4. What is one positive experience you may miss out on if you don’t pursue your dream?
I love doing this exercise with my clients because it has been a powerful way for them to understand and change their relationship with fear. Once we master our relationship with fear, the mental gates leading to our dreams will swing wide-open. And then it’s just a matter of taking the first step.