I’ve got a lot of questions about fear lately. Fear of failure. Fear of making the right decision. Fear that comes from frustration in a long job search.
Fear is part of life — we all have some dose of it. It’s not the experience of fear that is so daunting, it’s more about how we respond to it. I have a personal survey in my book where I ask people to think about which fear response they run to most often — fight, flight or freeze. I did this to get us thinking about what kinds of habits we fall into when we’re scared.
So the first thing is to notice what you do when you’re wallowing in fear. In fact, it’s even a good idea to just plain notice you’re afraid. We’re pretty good at covering fear with all kinds of behaviors, from being overly-zealous do-gooders for others, to being pesky, annoying and anxious, without realizing it’s about fear.
I can’t give you THE answer to handling fear. It doesn’t exist. But I can tell you that some ways to deal with it include developing routines that create space for you to notice where it’s coming from. These could be exercise routines, journaling routines, time for friend-talk routines. Because noticing, paying attention is the door to dealing.
The other thing is to remember that you’re riding the waves of life. You can choose to do it by clenching your teeth, closing your eyes and hoping you’ll never wipe out. Or you can relax, open your eyes, and take a deep breath to help you ride out any wave that hits you.
If that sounds too easy, well let me say that it’s simple. But simple isn’t always, or even often, easy. It takes some investment on your part to do the noticing, to look inside and listen hard to your intuition and common sense. That’s why making space and not cluttering your life with way too much to do is so important.
When we’re not cluttered, we sometimes find ourselves just tripping over a little risk, a decision that felt hard to do, and sometime even the acceptance of frustration. Once we accept it, we start digging in to understanding more about what we’re trying to make happen. And that somehow starts loosening the obstacles in front of us.
Then we’re free to take a job that didn’t look so good before. Because it’s a start. Because we need a place to dock for a while until the storm clears (or a crummy economy). And best of all, we start letting go of having to be perfect and being so judgmental of ourselves.
Remember, we’re all more alike than we’re different. We all have fears, stumbling blocks, low times and high times. You really aren’t THE ONLY ONE going through this. Connect. It helps you feel less alone during the fearful times, holds you up when you need it, and feels good. And who doesn’t want to feel good?!