7 a.m. and the alarm rang. It woke me up from a dream.
In my dream, I was giving a speech to a thousand people. I didn’t really remember the topic. Must have been something with self-development. Even though I don’t remember the content, I remember the feeling of being completely fired up, the energy was flowing from me to my audience. The audience was mesmerized, and I could see on their faces that they had their AHA moments. I was happy.
Happy in a big way, if you know what I mean.
I woke up from the bed and went to make a coffee for myself.
What a stupid dream, I thought to myself. It’s not who I am.
It was three months since I didn’t leave the apartment, a small studio I shared with my husband.
No, to be honest. I did leave it. To go shopping grocery. Yet, I was not able to do it on my own. Three times a week I waited for my husband to come home from work and we went shopping together. Apart from him, I avoided all communication with other people.
I identified with my fear of social connection to a huge extent. I thought I am just not that kind of person who is making friends with everybody. I like to be alone. I need space.
Why I dream about giving speeches? I don’t know it’s just a dream.
Often, and without realizing it, we identify with our fears as something being natural to us. We say: I don’t like talking to new people, it’s just who I am. I don’t like traveling it’s just who I am.
However, when we look at it from a flip side, fear is feeding our self-limiting beliefs.
When working with clients, I can see that the more the person identifies with his fear the bigger the fear is and consequently, the limiting belief grows as well.
Giving in to fear can not only prevent us from living our lives to the fullest, but it can even ruin our lives.
And, if you give in to your fear, how do you know it won’t grow into something bigger? How do you know you won’t pick up other fears?
Fear as an Enemy
Imagine, there are people in the world who are scared to leave their houses (Agoraphobia).
There are people scared of falling asleep (Somniphobia).
There are people scared of having their phones without cover (Nomophobia).
There are people scared of small holes (Trypophobia).
There are people scared of rain (Ombrophobia), color yellow (Xanthophobia), trees (Hylophobia), cheese (Turophobia) or clowns (Coulrophobia).
So many fears and I didn’t even mention spiders (Arachnophobia). 🙂
Those might sound like strange fears to you and you might not suffer from them, but can you say the same about the more common fears?
- fear of failure
- fear of success
- fear of not being loved
- fear of not being enough
- fear of being judged
- fear of not being worthy of success
- fear of rejection
- fear of trusting people
- fear of having a lot of money
- fear of being not understood
- fear of other people to hold you back
…and many other
By now, you might find yourself in some of these fears. However, don’t blame yourself for having them. Yes, they do block you and might prevent your success but it’s not your fault you have them. Some of them reflect your childhood, some of them reflect the society rules, some of them were created on the basis of negative past experience.
We usually don’t call them fears rather limiting beliefs. Yet, they are much more common than the previous ones and most people suffer from more than one or two of these limiting beliefs.
When you give in to your fears it affects your life negatively:
- you self-sabotage your success
- you make excuses
- you think negatively
- you develop different kinds of habits that are not helping you
- you procrastinate
- you hide behind perfectionism
- you worry too much
So what can we do about our fears?
Fear as an Ally
Think of fear as a tool for your development. There are two kinds of situations when you can be fearful:
A. when you are in danger and in that case you should run away from the danger
B. when you are doing something new, unknown or non-habitual
Let’s talk solely about option B. What does fear do for you in this case? It shows you the edges of your comfort zone. Where your comfort zone ends, your growth begins. However, the typical reaction is to run away in this situation as well. Why? Because the brain is designed to protect us and make us survive. It doesn’t care about the comfort zone. Our society developed faster than the brain. For the brain, it is a danger or not a danger and nothing between.
It is your role to distinguish whether it is a danger or a potential for growth. If you can do that your next step is to embrace that fear.
Welcome it and acknowledge it – Welcome fear, thank you for letting me know this is the edge of my comfort zone.
And do it anyway. It is OK I am fearful. And even though I am fearful I will do it anyway, because it will bring me benefits.
Basically, fear is very helpful in both cases. When in danger, it will trigger you to run away. When at the edge of your comfort zone it will trigger you to grow.
It’s your choice how you will react to the fear. Will you run away or will you grow?