Don’t try to hide from your fears; they’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.
“I’m nervous!” I told her.
“Nervous-cited?” she joked in an effort to remind me how close the feelings of nervous and excited can be.
I paused and considered her words.
“Actually, not really. I’m more afraid.”
I had an opportunity in front of me I’d worked toward for a while. I knew, from past experience, if I handed the reigns over to fear my excitement would vanish.
This was a feeling I’d thought I no longer surrendered to.
I now knew even those of us who believed we’d traveled pretty far down our path of self-awareness or enlightenment still give in and can become paralyzed by fear.
Fear places our excitement on pause.
No matter how excited we intellectually recognize we are (by an opportunity, an experience, anything) fear possesses the ability to seize excitement and place it on hold.
This manifests itself in many ways and, if we aren’t vigilant, it can bring us to our knees. So here are four key things you need to remember:
1. Overthinking everything accomplishes nothing.
Yes, fear lets us fall prey to paralysis by analysis. When we allow fear to permeate our excitement it stops us dead in our tracks. We become paralyzed by the mere thought of pushing past and making our way toward a more positive emotion. We become stuck in the cycle of what if ____? … conjuring mental images of various worst-case scenarios. Our brain, riddled with fear, ceases to acknowledge past successes and becomes wholly focused on the perceived terror of the experience to come. Unease and uncertainty paralyze us, and we become stuck in a downward cycle.
The solution? Stop thinking and start doing…
Don’t fear change. Change fear. Step by step.
2. You are not physically broken, even though fear makes you feel that way.
Once upon a time the physical manifestations of fear worked in our favor: The fight or flight response, the flood of adrenaline in our system, and the sense of our body on “high alert.” These physical sensations saved us when confronted with a situation that threatened our survival.
These days, moments of true physical danger are thankfully few. And, while our conscious brains may register this fact, our subconscious bodily instincts are slower to learn. As a result, when we feel fear (about a life-event, about a new opportunity) the emotion sparks this same physical cycle to occur. Our feelings of fear place our excitement on pause because we begin to physically break down. These sensations, from heart palpitations to rapid breathing, ignite even greater feelings of panic and fear.
But it’s all in our head. Take a deep breath and re-focus on the truth. Your truth.
3. You are good enough right now.
Fear sparks the impostor syndrome. What if we aren’t good enough? What if we aren’t strong enough? What if, what if…
When we allow our brains to spiral into this thinking, we’ve surrendered control to fear. We question the very opportunity we’ve received (the new job, the new boyfriend, etc.) because we are fearful others will discover who we really are. Fears disrupt our ability to think clearly and experience the excitement the situation warrants. Fear pauses our positivity because we’ve subconsciously convinced ourselves that in this situation we are frauds who aren’t good enough. Fears lure our brain into thinking past successes have had nothing to do with us and were a result of luck or timing. Excitement about the new opportunity is stopped.
You’ve got to flip the switch on this kind of negative thinking. No one and nothing can make you feel inferior without your consent. Period.
4. You are not alone in feeling fearful and alone.
Perhaps the most powerful way fear places our excitement on hold is it signals us to retreat. When we allow trepidation to override excitement we become simultaneously embarrassed and afraid. We convince ourselves no one else has experienced what we are going through or would ever feel the way we do. We become wrapped up in how overwhelming and powerful our fear feels. Devoid of any joy, embarrassed and scared, we retreat into solitude and more overthinking, which in turn further feeds our fears.
But you are NOT alone! So many of us are fighting the same exact battle alongside you.
We are all in this together.
Break the cycle!
Push back fear and strip it of its power to place your excitement on pause.
Seize the feeling of fear and shift it toward gratitude. Remind yourself of the silver lining contained in every seemingly fearsome situation. Take action. Moving toward what we fear, gradually, is the first step in seeing the reality is never quite as scary as it seems.
The story I opened with is my story of writing this post. My excitement at the writing opportunity on Marc and Angel’s blog was placed on pause until I reminded myself of the four concepts I’ve shared here. My approach to stopping fear from pausing my excitement was reminding myself of #4, again and again.
I also chose to focus on the power of my What You Can When You Can (#wycwyc) community. I brought my fear out into the light and shared it with my online tribe. My fear, as happens with most worries when shared, was heard, gently refuted, and transformed into excitement again.
I’d love to hear from you. How has fear put your excitement (or happiness) on pause? What has it stopped you from doing? What have you done in the past to break this cycle of fear? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights.
Photo by: Minarai