When I ask most people why they’re not doing what they want to be doing it comes down to fear.
Fear of what others will think;
Fear of our child or a loved one struggling;
Fear of failing;
Fear of the unknown;
Fear of missing out.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. I get it. Yet…
Do it anyways
Fear does not mean something has gone wrong.
Fear does not mean that you have to stop.
Fear means you’re human and wired for survival.
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is accepting that fear is a part of your life. Adopting the belief that you can feel the fear and do it anyways is one of the most transformational things you can do. Feeling fear does not mean something has gone wrong or you need to stop what you’re doing. I can not say that enough.
Life is Not Always Rainbows and Daisies.
Life is not always easy. In fact, having an easy life isn’t the goal. Truly, it’s not. An easy life usually means we are sitting on the couch with unfulfilling relationships in unfulfilling careers feeling unfulfilled. We’d be much better served to search out the hard, the uncomfortable, to look for where we’re afraid and go there.
Have you ever wondered why babies choose to learn to walk? It takes a lot of effort, no? Trying to stand up; to find their balance; to learn how far to put one foot in front of the other. Why do they go to the effort? They keep falling over. Why do they choose to feel discomfort? Why do they want to learn something new? Isn’t it easier to sit and have everything brought to them? The answer is that at our most primal level, we are wired to evolve, dear warriors.
Humans are Wired to Grow.
Like fear, growth is not always pleasant. Growth involves bravery and courage and ….discomfort. Growth requires us to feel the fear and do it anyways.
Bravery doesn’t feel good before the act. It feels scary. When we’re brave, we are doing something we’re unsure of. We’re trying something new. We’re not in control of the outcome.
As Bear Grylls says: “Being brave isn’t the absence of fear. Being brave is having that fear but finding a way through it.”
So why would we choose to take an action that requires us to move through fear? Especially knowing that it would make us uncomfortable?
The truth is, unfortunately in our current society, we often don’t choose action.
It’s Far Easier to Stay the Same
To stay in a job you don’t like.
To stay in a loveless relationship.
To stay overweight.
It’s Far Easier to Make Excuses
Where do you make excuses to stay the same? Do you make excuses to avoid the fear?
I’ve made many excuses throughout my life. I still do. Excuses can protect us when we aren’t ready to be brave yet. I’ve always loved Arthur Burt’s quote as a motivator: “Nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change”.
What Are We Really Afraid Of?
When you think of the things we’re afraid of, whether it’s something to do with your kids, your life, your business, whatever, what we’re afraid of doesn’t have anything to do with life or death. The thing we’re afraid of is feeling a feeling. When we think of public speaking, we’re not afraid of surviving or not. We’re afraid of making a mistake, people laughing, and feeling embarrassed or humiliated. If you’re afraid of your child struggling in middle school, you aren’t afraid that they’ll actually perish. You’re afraid that they’ll feel left out or lonely or sad ….and then….you’ll feel uncomfortable. We are afraid of feeling uncomfortable.
We Can Handle It
Great news! Did you know that as human beings we are designed to feel? We have the capability of feeling really big and hairy emotions. And yet, we think that feeling the difficult emotion causes us to suffer. Do you know what really causes us to suffer? It’s what we do instead of feeling the feeling: we procrastinate, we eat; we shop; we work, we complain. What do these behaviors lead to? Suffering. An unfulfilling job. A disconnected marriage. Extra weight. Extra debt. Not doing what we know we should be doing.
So instead of taking action, we suffer to avoid feeling. Feeling lonely is hard. Eating or shopping to avoid feeling lonely is easier. Getting up early to work out is hard. Sleeping in is easier. Choosing to have “that conversation” is hard. Looking at Facebook or Instagram is easier. That doesn’t mean we can’t do it. Allowing the discomfort in (pain) is where the growth occurs. Each time we don’t choose the easy out (eating, Netflixing, drinking, blaming, procrastinating), we grow stronger.
Move Towards Fear
I encourage you to see fear as a sign that you’re on the right path. To open your mind to see that pain is a precursor to growth. Our muscles literally tear apart in order to grow. After you push through a challenging workout, how do you feel? Strong. Confident. Proud. The same thing happens emotionally. After we allow our painful feeling and learn from it, how do we feel afterwards? Like a badass. Like a warrior. Like a stronger, more evolved version of you!
I would not be who I am without my past. My divorce. My eating disorders. My relationship with my parents. Everything I am and the woman I’m meant to be, is discovered through pain. The path of the warrior is to shift from avoiding fear to viewing it as your teacher. Invite it in. We are who we are because we feel the fear and do it anyways.
Where are you choosing to suffer instead of doing what your inner warrior is telling you is best for you? We increase our suffering by ignoring it or by thinking that when we feel fear or discomfort that means we need to stop. No way.
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyways
For me, one of the greatest skills I’ve learned is to feel the fear and do it anyways. It’s certainly where all the good stuff is in my life. When I look at all I’ve accomplished, it’s on the other side of fear. When I look at all the positive feelings I’ve felt: confidence, pride, joy, it’s because I’ve felt the fear and done it anyways. It’s because I’ve chosen to do it afraid:
Starting my business;
Ending my first marriage;
Setting boundaries with my biological family;
Traveling to the other side of the world to see if Paul really was the man of my dreams (he is and more!)
I definitely could’ve chosen the easier path. I could’ve stayed in my dysfunctional marriage. I could’ve chosen to ignore my dreams and desires. I could’ve looked at all the reasons why falling in love with a man from Australia didn’t make sense.
Instead I chose to feel the discomfort. I chose the unknown. I chose to feel the fear and do it anyways.
Just Say No!
Warriors, you can’t avoid fear and get anywhere. You can’t go around it, under it, resist it or pretend it isn’t there.
In fact, learning to feel fear and do it anyways is one of the greatest secrets of success. If you can learn to view your fear as a sign that you’re on the right path rather than a sign to stop taking action or hide you will feel great contentment in life. Try approaching the fear you feel in life the same way you approach the fear you feel on purpose on a roller coaster ride or in a scary movie. When you’re in a scary movie or on a roller coaster, two main things happen. (1) You expect the fear. You know you will experience fear, you don’t view your fear as a reason to leave the theater or get off the ride. (2) You allow it: You experience the fear without running out of the theater or jumping off the ride. You can remind yourself that you’re not going to die; that nothing has gone wrong here. In the same way that you decide to feel the fear and stay on the ride, you can do that in real life. Feel the fear and send that email. Feel the fear and have that conversation. Feel the fear and do it anyways.
When you look at people who have really created the life that they want to create, you may say “Wow, they must be fearless”. Nope. No one is fearless. The difference is they view the fear as something along their path to success, as a part of a life well lived.
Warriors, let’s dig into our fear this week. Let’s choose to keep growing. Keep feeling the fear and doing it anyways. Keep asking ourselves: What is our fear trying to teach us?
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