5 SNEAKY SIGNS THAT FEAR IS RUNNING THE SHOW IN YOUR LIFE
Fear can be a sneaky little bastard, you know.
Strong opening line, huh?
But it’s true.
The more I work with brilliant women, the more I see the sneaky, undermining ways that fear can creep into our lives and hold us back. I’m talking about the less obvious kind of fear.
Sometimes fear is very visceral; we feel it in our bodies. Our voice gets shaky, our adrenaline runs wild, we have flippy floppy feelings in our stomach when we start to take any kind of self-supportive action or move towards putting our own ideas or talents out there. Our body reacts in response to potential vulnerability to tell us to pull back, stay safe.
And then there are the sneaky ways that fear arrives; showing up in ways that we have convinced ourselves as ‘normal’ or ‘realistic’. These are the ways that seem to be more difficult to detect because we’ve spent generations observing them as the status quo for women or being conditioned to understand these patterns as “just the way it is” for us.
I want to identify five sneaky ways that I have seen fear show up in the lives of brilliant women like you and me and how they are stopping us from doing the things that we would love to do, create or offer in the world.
HERE WE GO:
1) PLANNING PLANNING NEVER DOING
Any serial planners out there? I love to plan and map out an idea. I love systems and strategy and figuring stuff out behind the scenes. I can see how it would be easy to get stuck there. It feels safe in the back end of your idea, where you can let your imagination run wild and use up those TK Maxx notebooks and absorb all those free trainings you signed up for, right?
The truth is that when we get stuck in the planning stage, it’s often just plain old hiding. When we never feel like the thing is ready, when we are always adding bits or editing or doing more training or having another planning session we aren’t having to let any risk into our lives.
And it’s clever, because fear is fuelled by this. Fear wants to keep us safe from any kind of risk wether it be rejection or criticism or potential failure so hiding behind planning and never getting to the doing is the perfect disguise that fear can thrive in.
Unfortunately though, fear has no interest in what it would feel like to be proud of something. Or what it would be like to feel fulfilled just because you did that thing. Or what it would be like to connect with others around your idea. Fuelling fear by staying behind your planning and research is a sure fire way to keep your ideas locked up forever.
2) WORST CASE SCENARIO THINKING
There is nothing that fear loves more than you thinking about the potential of failure or rejection. It thrives in environments where your mind can catastrophise the worst possible outcome. When our default way of thinking is how terrible something is going to be or how impossible your idea seems, fear is having the time of its life.
The tricky part of this is that often we justify our worst case scenario thinking by calling it ‘realistic’. Which is a lie. True realistic thinking isn’t binary (terrible or fantastic, catastrophic or brilliant). Realistic thinking is curious and self-supportive.
Worst case scenario thinking is fears favourite place to hang out in your brain
3) TALKING TO THE WRONG PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR IDEAS
Want to give fear a strong head start and kill a good idea fast? Start talking to your relatives about your plans.
When we are working on something precious to us, it’s so important to know who we should be sharing those ideas with.
More often than not, the people closest to us will a) want to keep us safe from any kind of risk or project their own fears onto us and b) are not the demographic of people that we are trying to connect with and won’t give us much feedback that is useful. Of course it’s important to involve our loved ones in our plans when it might effect them, but be aware that sharing too much with them might give fear an opportunity to thrive and cause you to question what you’re doing.
4) IT’S GOING TO BE TOO HARD, WHY START?
So sneaky. Again, one of the ways that fear takes over is by making up stories in our heads to convince us that we are not up to the task. We stop before we start. We see the big picture ahead and, well, it’s going to be hard. Hard to fit into our life, hard to learn, hard to market, hard to plan, hard to finance. We shut our ideas down before they even have a chance to breathe.
When we stop before we start we are forgetting that we are evolving creatures. Our lives will change. Our circumstances will evolve. What feels unattainable right now might not in a few months or years. Giving up or shutting our ideas down is not the solution. SELF SUPPORT is. Curiosity IS. Asking ourselves “What is a small step I can take in the direction of this idea right now that will work with the context of my life?” or “How can I do something regularly that will give me the same feeling I am after from this bigger goal or idea?”
Stopping before we start is also detrimental to our well-being because shutting our ideas down causes shame and resentment within ourselves and usually towards others. That disappointment is always channelled elsewhere – it does not just evaporate. It will feed into our relationships and other things we are committed to and we will end up associating those feelings with the idea that once brought us to life.
5) YOU ARE CONSUMED BY WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE DOING
Are you watching someone else’s journey really closely? Are you checking in on their work, their numbers and stats? Are you looking at what they are doing and feel deflated or jealous or even a little bit irritated? First off, welcome to being human.
Secondly, fear is loving this. Fear is feasting on your fixation. Fear knows that as long as you are distracted, comparing, obsessing over someone else’s work or life then it’s able to keep you from doing what YOU were created to do, which is just fine with fear.
Fear wants you to think that money is scarce, clients are scarce, attention is scarce, customers are scarce, space at the table is scarce. That way, you’ll either just hold back or armour up.
Can you identify with any of this? I know I’ve been there, totally unaware that so much of my mindset was conditioned towards fear and staying small.
This doesn’t have to be ‘just the way it is’ for women. It can’t be. Because we need you in the world. We need creative, innovative, empathic women showing up and making an impact.
So what can we do? Can we just banish fear with some sort of pagan ritual or something?
Unfortunately not. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that we can make fear our friend. We can find work-arounds for fear and how it shows up in our lives. We can move through fear, seeing it for what it is and what it’s trying to do (keep us safe). We can have a healthy, empowered relationship with fear that actually propels us into action so we can do the things that we feel called to do in the world. Sound good? Don’t you want to get to that stage of understanding how fear shows up and knowing how to manage it so you can be more true to yourself?
There is so much to say about this so I’ve put together a free PDF with some really practical, helpful tips to help you move through fear AND! I’m going to be hosting an online Masterclass on Facing Fear on Wednesday, October 16th at 8pm BST – sign up up below to get more details and reminders!