Wendy's Blog

How Fear Shrinks Our Spirits and Damages Our Lives…AND What To Do About It

by Wendy Keller, author, speaker, woman who is afraid sometimes

Is fear keeping you from growing? From living the life your soul knows you were meant to live?  Are you trapped by fears of there not being enough – enough love, enough money, enough hope, enough anything?

Maybe you don’t even realize how much fear is destroying and diminishing your life!

I was about to be hired as the marketing consultant for a small business today. I know I can triple their revenues by the end of the year, and next year would be the beginning of all their dreams coming true. I am familiar with their type of product and the talent behind it. But the owner is a fearful man, a negative thinker, operating from his panic instead of a place of abundance.  He’s now negotiated me right out of my original enthusiasm for working with him.  He will have to go back to his slow, plodding, methodical way of hopefully building the company one tiny step at a time.  I’m supposed to decide today and I decided…to pass.

The minute I decided to stop operating from fear (“What if he becomes the No. 1 product in his category and I am not working with them, thus not getting commission?”) I realized that with his attitude, they will NEVER become the No. 1 product in their category.  I can’t work with someone so mired in fear and lack.  The second I made the decision, I felt exuberant. (Darn, life is such a school! So many pop quizzes!)

I’ve noticed this a lot in my life.  When I am able to release my fears, my concerns about lack (of anything  from money to time to love) I experience a buoyancy in my spirit unparalleled when I am allowing myself to imagine a scary future.  If you’re also trapped in fear and worry sometimes, it might be worth giving these strategies a shot.

Five Steps to Releasing Fear and Worry

1. If Fear is defined as “False Evidence Appearing Real”, then it’s the “real” part that scares us most.  Ask yourself, “Is this kind of fear real for everyone in my situation?”  Even if one is facing down a terminal diagnosis, there are others who are not living their last days in fear and worry.  Your view of what’s “Real” might be a figment of your own imagination. Consider that carefully.

2. Play a little game with your brain.  Imagine, “What would be the BEST possible outcome here?”  Not the “most OK” or the “least damaging”, but the very best.  For instance, if you are going through a divorce and you are increasingly glad you no longer live with your former spouse, would the BEST outcome be that he/she becomes gracious and compliant and allows the split of the money and the child custody to go smoothly?  Knowing this person as well as you do, what is it that you might be doing that is escalating their anger and their fear?  Could you stop doing it and still achieve the deal you dream of?  Has your lawyer talked you into agitating this person you know so well beyond what you know they are capable of handling?  I’m not saying change anything, I’m just saying try to get an objective perspective on the whole issue.

3. Take a little baby step.  I have a friend in a bad marriage.  It’s at least as much her fault as it is her husband’s.  She blames him constantly for everything, and truthfully, it’s not all him.  I know she’s so committed to her point of view as “Woman Trapped In A Bad Marriage” that she is playing this long-suffering role for all it’s worth.  It’s kind of boring for her friends, because she seems to have no desire to improve things, decade after decade.  I notice in my own life and that of many others, though, that taking even one baby step in the right direction changes the whole game somehow.  I ask her, “What would happen if you were just nice to him for a whole evening?”  It applies in so many ways! If you just saved that $10 and put it in an envelope under your mattress instead of going out to eat…if you just said No to the next cigarette, just one….if you went through just ONE store and smiled at other single people and looked them in the eye…Do just a little extra work on the job today…  You won’t know until you try it, but Change has to start somewhere.  Why not with you?

4. Pay attention to your heart.  As you walk into your own front door, as you wait to pick up your teenager in front of the high school, as you sit down at your desk on Monday morning, watch how you feel.  Is it constricted, afraid, anger, defensive, on guard?  There is no louder signal your body can send!  It’s not like it can independently hire a skywriter to say, “MAKE SOME CHANGES!  THIS ISN’T GOOD FOR YOU!”  Get real with yourself. That feeling is NOT acceptable and YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT IT!  Don’t just depress yourself, day after day, dealing with what seems unmanageable or like you’re stuck. That’s stupid!  Make a plan, any plan, to make it better. TRY.  Try something.  Try something different than what you do. I had a brilliant man, Mike Gurr, the director of Copper Canyon Academy, a therapeutic girls boarding school outside Sedona, AZ, tell me once that if “taking away her cell phone isn’t causing her to modify her behavior, then taking away her cell phone isn’t modifying her behavior. That means you have to find something else that will.”  Sometimes we get so enmeshed in “This SHOULD work” that we forget to notice if it isn’t.

5. Finally, if you have TRIED all the above and it STILL isn’t working, then…News Flash!  It isn’t working!  That means this: Get Professional Help.  That doesn’t mean “ask your friends for their opinion” unless your friends are therapists, life coaches or PhDs in Psych.  It means figure out how to afford to get professional help. Most counties in the USA have free mental health services; there are less expensive group therapy sessions; there are HUNDREDS of coaches online (read their testimonials so you find a good one!) who do inexpensive phone consults. Even just one session might give you the two things those kinds of people provide:  a different perspective AND the courage to try something different.

Whether it’s business or personal life that’s got you mired in fear and worry, you DO NOT have to live this way! I remember the old saying, “Swallow your pride and step inside!”  Remember that?  It applies to YOU right here and now.  Everyone gets afraid of different things.  For a decade, I woke up and checked several times a night to be sure that my only living daughter hadn’t died in her sleep, which is illogical because her brother and sister died in a car accident.  We all have fears that are illogical, irrational and that seem SO real to us.  Use the steps above and give yourself a teensy tiny break from the stress you live with now.  It’s worth a try!

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