Having tackled all the topics for our building blocks we moved on last week to start dealing with inner clutter, starting with expectations and standards (link up at the end of this post). If you are new to “Simplify your life” check out earlier posts and join in any time. This is the slow and steady approach to changing your life and working from the inside out. I honestly believe all the effort in the world will not lead to lasting change in your external world (home, work, finances, etc) if you do not do the inner work first. This week I am focusing on fear.
Fear is a personal issue
For many people, myself included, fear can be the greatest force holding you back in life. Fear comes in many forms and is as unique as you are. What terrifies me may be old hat for you, something you do with ease and not a care in the world. Something else I feel comfortable with can be your worst nightmare.
Maybe you can speak to a room full of people, but you are not comfortable asking for help. Maybe you are very comfortable giving away money, generously making donations every year, but you cannot throw away clothes that no longer fit or give away textbooks from your school days.
What holds us back?
When you feel stuck it is often fear that is holding you back even if you would not use that word to describe the situation.
As examples of this think about when we hold on to objects we no longer need or use from a former life we are often afraid of completely accepting where we are now. When we refuse to ask for help or cut ourselves any slack or say no to other people’s requests we are often afraid of being judged as not “good enough” for not being able to do everything 100%.
How to deal with our fears?
The issue is not one of removing fear from your life entirely, but rather about facing our fears and not letting them hold us back from the life we want to live. Acknowledge your fears rather than ignoring them.
It is important to figure out what your fears are telling you. Sometimes our fears are warning us and they act as a great pause button for life. That instinct of fear might be telling you to re-evaluate something, get more information or stay away. This type of fear has a positive effect in our lives.
Other times our fears are like sign posts of our crossroads – a red flag that goes up indicating you are now entering a new area out of your comfort zone. If we never left our comfort zone we would never grow. There is a reason they call it “playing it safe” and that is where you reside if you let your fears limit you and define you.
My favourite way to tackle fear is asking “what’s the worst that can happen?” If you think about and identify your worst case scenario you can figure out what your coping tactic might be or how you can adjust the situation to improve the outcome. If the worst case scenario is dangerous or something you cannot live with then you can take it from there (revise or abort the idea).
By taking action (“just do it”) you take away the power that fear was holding over you.
If the (acceptable) worst does happen then you can learn from the experience and grow, try again and keep growing. There can be no growth without some element of risk.
If the worst case scenario does not happen then not only have you gained this new experience / action / skill, but you have reinforced the process of facing fears and surviving and the idea that you can take a calculated risk.
How do we apply this in our day to day lives?
Stretch yourself to grow
- push yourself
- let others push you (let kids direct things and see what you both learn, go along with a friend’s bold idea, etc)
- be open to being silly, not knowing, not being in control
- reframe mistakes as neutral or positive in your life
- start small if need be and build your confidence (baby steps still take you to your intended destination)
- don’t hide behind your fears (face up to them and take some action however small)
- be willing to fail (and be proud that you tried, know that so many never try)
Take opportunities that come your way
- assess the risks and then decide to move on it
- find solutions to your fear driven excuses (ie “I am not talented enough for that” can be countered with a commitment to practice your skill/craft, study, learn more, invest in your training)
Ask for help
- be vulnerable and open to someone else guiding you
- practice self compassion and accept you do not have to have it all figured out perfectly and do it all yourself
Week Ten Challenge: Let go and be vulnerable
Be honest with yourself and identify at least one thing you are afraid to do, to try, to say, etc and do it. If it is a huge or long held fear find a way to at least identify and take a first step forward. How are you going to face that fear?
If you are someone for whom fear is not a big issue please write about that and share how you live your life positively dealing with fears when they come up.
Share your stories and help each other. Remember no fear is too big or too small – they are simply your fears. When we own our fears we take back the power they hold over us.
In my case launching this challenge was a major case of facing my fears. I truly worried that no one would show up (self doubt, undervaluing myself, afraid of people’s possible negative reactions). I could have let that hold me back and lived forever with the “what if”. Instead I worked out that, as awkward as I would feel, I could live with no one linking up and would hope it would grow in time. I had seen small blogs host link ups before where only a few people joined in. I gained strength from knowing others had put themselves out there before.
Look at some of your fears and think about what you might be missing by not going for it. What do you stand to gain? Freedom, connection, less stress, more fun and adventure, growth, new direction, better health and more.
Link up for week nine – “Go Easy on yourself”
If you blogged about your this or any Simplify Your Life challenges please add your blog post link below into the linky and not in the comments. If you do not see the linky refresh your browser and it will usually appear. Please remember if you link up take 15 minutes this week and visit some other bloggers and spread the feedback and support comment love.
What will you do differently this week to leave your comfort zone? Say what you think, try a new food, dance with abandon…
Find your simple,
SYL Link up:
Images: Fear graffiti by flickr user wilderdom
No fear by flickr user Jamie Campbell