FEAR is one of the biggest immobilizers known to humankind. It stops us in our tracks no matter how capable, educated, physically able or determined we are. When fear steps into the arena the game can be very quickly over. Now I’m not talking about the fear that comes up when you are in a position of physical danger, that is the useful kind of fear that will spur you to get the heck out of there. I’m talking of the fears that we create for ourselves by either recreating past events or projecting the worst possible outcomes in the future. That critical insider with the voice of doom.
Women particularly harbour fears, but what is interesting is that many of our fears come from our own habitual self-talk, criticism and self minimization which turns inevitably into self-sabotage, and ultimately to regret. That inner critic that we all have can sometimes shout so loudly in our head that it drowns out the creative, passionate drive and ambition that we all have deep inside. In my opinion, regret is one of the saddest words in the English language. It speaks of missed opportunities, lost hopes and dreams and a sense of grief for what could have been in a life unfulfilled. There are so many variations on the theme of fear. Fear of judgement, of not being good enough, not clever enough, fear of failure, success, loss, abandonment, getting older, of not “looking” the right way…. the list is endless. If we allow these fears to take over we are constantly scrambling to live up to ideals that we could never hope to achieve. I’m not saying here that you are not good enough to achieve what you want to achieve. I know that is what many could possibly interpret here. What I want to get across is that it is our fear of not “having, being or doing” what we aspire to that prevents us from “being, doing or having” what we want.
Fear creates a stress response, whether it is a “real-life” threat or one we have conjured up in our imagination. Imagine yourself taking a nice relaxing walk. It’s a sunny afternoon and you’re enjoying the fresh air and natural surroundings. You glance along the footpath and few metres ahead you spot a brown coloured snake. How do you feel? Afraid? Panicked? Want to run in the opposite direction? Paralyzed? Do you feel a churn in you body with the surge of adrenalin?
Any normal person would feel any or all of those things if encountering a potentially life-threatening situation. Your subconscious mind takes over in a millisecond to protect you from the perceived danger. Your logical, rational, creative brain function shuts down and your entire neural system is now in a state of high alert. You cannot move forward. Your instinct is to stop or retreat.
Now look again. That thing up there isn’t moving. You look closer, strain your eyes a little, put on glasses even, to see it a little clearer. Focus. What is it? Is it a fallen tree branch, or is it a snake? Your physiological response is telling you it’s a snake, but now you are really looking at it you are not so sure. Take a step closer, it’s a bit scary still but…wait a minute…it really isn’t moving. Closer now you can clearly see that it is indeed a tree branch, the shadows from the foliage giving it a lifelike dimension. You see it for what it really is, breathe a sigh of relief, and you step past it going on with your journey.
What then, if we had such a strong physical response to what we “thought” was a snake, do we conjure up in our bodies when we have such an array of fearful thoughts and beliefs constantly triggering us? The answer, of course, is a drip-fed cocktail of toxic stress hormones that keeps us paralyzed and exhausted, sick and tired. We suffer adrenalin fatigue and reduced brain function. Loss of focus, creativity, ambition, patience and the ability to empathize. We suffer reduced immunity, digestive disruption, effects on the menstrual cycle, plus many more conditions that are the damaging effects of stress and fear on the female mind and body. Our mind is such a powerful force that it can create a full physical chain reaction based on perception. WOW!
Translate this into an everyday situation that women face. Let’s take for instance someone’s fear of judgement. She is terrified of being thought of in a negative way by her friends, family or colleagues if she does or says something that she perceives may upset or challenge other’s beliefs or opinions. She might look bad and experience disapproval or ridicule. She could even lose a friendship or be shunned by family. She could lose the respect and position. She may want to speak up but the fear keeps her silent, stuck, frustrated and anxious.
What if she DID speak up and say what’s on her mind though? Is that perception really a snake? Is it REALLY going to bite her, cause her pain or worse? Could it be that, if she pushed on ahead, she may be gain more respect or even the admiration of her peers for speaking her truth? Others may have a similar opinion but also be too afraid to speak up. She then becomes an influencer, giving permission and inspiration for others to speak their truth also. It is all possible. Doing the very thing she is most afraid to do may, in fact, bring more of what she most fears losing.
The picture below is me in Melbourne doing my first ever Rap Jump. I stepped off the roof of a 12 story building and ran face-first down the side to the ground. I believe that all too often we stand out on the edge of our challenges, looking down and fearing the fall, instead of anticipating the excitement of the journey ahead.
Was it easy to have faith and step off? No way! It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. Was it worth it? Hell YES! It made me recognize that the scariest part of any challenge we face in life is taking the fist step.
I work with women to create a shift, dissolving irrational fears and beliefs and damaging negative emotions that keep us stuck and our goals and dreams out of reach. Take the first step and call me to find out more on 0412 200 515.