I really don’t think we can have the lives we want without developing a working relationship with fear.
I hate that this is true, actually, because fear is uncomfortable. I want to believe that I can have everything I want while feeling confident, strong and capable.
But the truth is that fear is designed to stop us, to keep us safe. So, whenever we begin to venture into new and unknown territory, fear is designed to keep us where we are now, even if that space isn’t working for us. Better to stick with the devil you know that the one you don’t, right? Well, maybe not.
I have experienced this countless times. The minute I dream up something that really matters to me, the first visitor to show up is fear - and that fear stops me more often than I would like to admit.
Every once in a while I will achieve a new level of comfort in my life. I will be feeling good about what I’m doing and fear will scarcely be present in day to day life. But inevitably, this plateau of sorts leads to more imagining and dreaming of what’s next. I’m in that space now, and lately I have noticed some inner nudging to expand what I am doing. That looks like a lot of new adventures, all of which really scare me. They’re new territory. So, naturally, my instinct has been avoidance. I always know I’m acting in fear and avoidance when I somehow manage to spend 3 hours at the gym.
So, I know when this happens that I need a bit of a heart-to-heart with myself. I am reminded that real empowerment is not about feeling amped up, confident or capable. Rather, empowerment is about the ability to feel everything and be with all of our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations and then have the freedom to make a choice. Real empowerment is feeling fear and then taking an action consistent with what we want.
I watch my coaching clients every week make choices in the face of their fears. It’s incredibly inspiring. I watch them take the actions they have been afraid of for their entire lives, and I have learned from them that the real trick to becoming the humans we want to be is not about overcoming fear, but knowing how to be in a dance with it.
We can be empowered and afraid. So, my version of being empowered and afraid this week has looked like officially starting my book proposal, while working with an agent. It’s been terrifying, but I can already feel the grip of fear loosening around the process as I just keep writing and trying.
The good news is that as we venture into this new territory and gain competency, that once-frightening space becomes safe as we realize that we are okay, that we can do this. This is the best news. I’ve watched this phenomenon occur time and again in my own life. Remember how I said writing a blog used to make me want to throw up with nervousness? Case in point. I now only feel slightly nervous every time I post. ;)
I want to be the kind of person who is more committed to the life I want for myself than to the comfort of staying safe. How about you? What does “empowered and afraid” mean to you?