I’m reading Susan Jeffers’ amazing book, again, ‘Feel the Fear and do it Anyway’. Every time I read it, I glean something new and its amazing message sinks a little deeper into my psyche.
The basic premise is that everyone experiences fear and the aim of the game is not to eliminate fear (which is impossible anyway) but to get more comfortable with experiencing fear and knowing that you don’t need to allow fear to hold you back.
I was quite a fearful kid; I would hold on to the bannister tightly while walking down the stairs, I would cling to my best friend at school and I was too shy to dance at my ballet lessons so I would often sit in the corner on my own.
This might have been partly as a result of being quite over protected as a child; often being told to ‘be careful’ by my lovely Mum and being warned of the various dangers out there in the big bad world.
Many of us, from a young age, are told in blatant or more subtle ways, that the world is a treacherous place, and we should be careful.
Susan Jeffers says that the implication behind this is that the world is scary and you won’t be able to handle it.
At the root of many of our fears come from a lack of trust in our ability to be able to handle situations. Whether it be of failure, public speaking, a new relationship, a physical feat or a big project at work.
Learning that it’s ok to feel afraid is a big step. Feel the fear and know that it’s ok to feel it and still do the things that scare us. Everyone is in the same boat. As long as you are doing things in your life and growing as a person, you will experience some fear.
Often we find that when we face our fears, they diminish anyway, because we’ve either
a) Proven that we can in fact handle the feared situation and everything was fine
b) Something has gone a little wrong and we’ve leaned that even then, it’s not actually as bad as we imagined. Again, we handled it, even as it went ‘wrong’.
At age 9 I went though a bit of a transformation. There was a theme park near where I lived and it’s ‘scariest’ ride was called ‘The Tower of Terror’.
After much ‘umming and ahhing’ I finally plucked up the courage to go on the ride. The thrill was incredible! From being a very cautious child, I’d faced a fear and I had survived!
After that I was much more confident; I knew that I was capable of doing scary things and that I could cope with it. It felt great!
One client of mine recently told me that he felt as though he was slowly expanding his circle of capability. Having suffered with fear and anxiety for some time, he had felt as though his sphere of life had shrunk to the point where he only felt safe while in bed.
He found that by slowly expanding his circle, going a little out of his comfort zone, learning that he can in fact handle things, he was able to feel more confident and calm about trying new things. He has to travel 200 miles to come to his sessions with me and says that the experience of coming to London, staying in a hotel and meeting new people has been something that in the past he would have been too afraid to do.
But he pushed past his fear, expanded his circle and now, who knows what he’ll try next.
Another way to think about fear is that it’s very similar to another feeling, excitement. The only difference really between fear and excitement are our thoughts about it. Robert Heller said “fear is excitement without breath”.
If we can change the way we think about fear, feel it and breathe into it we can change our experience of it, from something we need to escape from, to something to get excited about instead.
So definitely check out Susan Jeffers book if you haven’t already. Hope you have a great rest of your week. I’m off on holiday this Saturday to France for some pool side laziness.
I’d love to hear from you; what is your ‘Tower of Terror’? How could you expand your circle? Let me know by clicking here and making a comment below the blog.
And if you think this could help someone, please share it.