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Do you know that feeling before a job interview or before making an important decision that will change the trajectory of your life?
I mean that feeling when your stomach sinks, your chest contracts, and your mind gets bombarded with thousands of unsettling thoughts.
What if…it doesn’t work out?
What if…I can’t handle it?
What if…I’m not good enough?
What if…I fail?
What if…I can’t turn back?
What if…my friends won’t like me anymore?
What if…I will look like a fool?
What if…I will be judged and ridiculed?
What if…they reject me?
When we’re presented with a tough decision or tough conversation, we’re afraid of what we’re risking, how we will be perceived by others, or what we may lose as a consequence.
This fear of consequences can make us trade short-term comfort for long-term dysfunction.
It could look like:
>> Staying in a job that you hate out of fear of losing a stable income.
>> Not leaving abusive or incompatible relationships out of familiarity and attachment needs.
>> Lying in order to avoid conflict.
You see, a lot of our deepest fears are buried in our subconscious, and yet they guide our everyday choices without us even realizing it.
Our human bodies are biologically wired to keep us safe. To make us survive.
And, sometimes when we experience trauma, our nervous systems get stuck in survival mode. It takes all our energy to stay on guard. The energy that we would rather use to enjoy the present moment or create the future we desire. Getting around these trauma responses can be a challenge and takes a lot of courage to overcome.
Just to be clear, fear is not our enemy. Every emotion has its purpose and that includes fear. If you find yourself in a situation that is life threatening, you want your body to respond quickly and to protect yourself as best you can. However, most of the fears that we experience in our current times aren’t actually life-threatening. It might feel as if you’re gonna die if you dare to ask that person out for a date or have that public speech, but you won’t. Yes, you might get rejected or judged, but you won’t die.
The paradox is that fear often attracts the very same thing we’re afraid of. Let me explain what I mean by this.
When we fear failure, we might play it safe and not take any risk. However, by remaining inactive, we fail by default. We create the same thing that we were afraid of and wanted to avoid.
Let’s say someone is afraid of being rejected and feeling lonely. In this scenario, a person who fears rejection will start pushing people away before they have a chance to reject them. In doing so, they eliminate opportunities for closer connections to form, which results in feelings of loneliness.
I get it. It’s scary to step outside one’s comfort zone. I’m no exception.
But what’s even scarier is remaining in the same old place for the sake of comfort and familiarity while ignoring the stirrings of our soul.
What’s even scarier is living the same day on repeat as if on autopilot, feeling like a prisoner to old patterns and dying without being truly “alive” in the first place.
We need to face those fears and call upon the part of us that’s greater than any fear. Stepping into unknown territory can be messy and full of curveballs but rewarding at the same time.
I think the antidote to all of this is embracing (not resisting) our fears and doubts and doing what we want anyway. We can work toward strengthening our nervous system to create more flexibility and capacity to handle challenges along the way. And addressing the root cause of our traumas.
I would like you to consider these few questions.
What if fear is the compass pointing you to where your growth lies? (with exception of fear triggered by being in direct danger)
What if you lost everything yesterday? What actions would you dare to take if there was nothing to lose?
Most people are aware of what may happen if they change, but what is the price of not taking action and remaining in the same place?
If you could change your life somehow with no risk, what would you change? And knowing that, what risk are you trying to avoid by not changing?
What are the main fears that prevent you from what you want in life?
What could you gain by facing your fears?