3 Must-Dos When Fear Shows Up (With a Lil’ Help from Elizabeth Gilbert)

I mean that’s it. The above image says it all. We could just call it a day, right? And just be like – ok, stop doing the stuff that ain’t good for ya.’ [insert peace sign]

But we are humans. And in my 15+ years as a coach, here’s what I absolutely know to be true…

Humans tackle change – successfully – using two key ideas:

  1. Awareness – Let’s say you tend to really get down on yourself – endless self-criticism and guilt setting in after a meltdown with your kids or an audition that was less than Oscar worthy. You gotta’ know your patterns, your mind tricks – and the things that keep you stuck. Knowing is great. It’s fantastic, in fact, because it’s the first step. But it isn’t the only step – meaning you can’t just hang around saying, “Well, that’s how I am – I go straight to guilt.” Why? Because we don’t get to change this way. Enter idea #2…
  2. Action – this is where we take all we know about ourselves and we give take tiny steps forward – towards change. Things like having specific phrases to tell yourself when you feel the guilt creep in or having that go-to friend on speed dial after the audition. Whatever your actions are, you have to define them and DO them or else nothing actually changes.

You with me?

This is how we deal with fear – while always remembering to be kind and compassionate with ourselves and others. Because change may not happen right away. It takes time and practice. And fear tends to have no patience for progress.

We also have to understand that we aren’t after eliminating fear. In fact, it’s a waste of time.

Enter the great Elizabeth Gilbert (perhaps you’ve heard of her?) who wrote an incredible letter to fear. (Check the entire letter out in her book, Big Magic.)

Here’s my favorite part…

She acknowledges that fear is going to want to stick around – it may never actually leave – but you can certainly quiet it.

Acknowledge him. Great. If he’s around, chances are you are going after something you truly want.

I’m ((so)) into this because I spend a lot of time helping clients understand that compassion is key and extends to everything in your life – even fear.

But how do we actually get to this place where fear is working for you? Where he’s in the car but he ain’t driving and he’s mute?

That’s why I’ve come up with 3 steps…

  1. Identify Your Fear – what’s he look like in your life? How does he dress? And where does he show up? Write down the top 3 places where fear creeps into your life. When you name it, you begin to call fear out. He can’t hide anymore. (This goes along with Awareness.)
  2. Create Your Map – the map is your Action Plan. Decide the things you can do instead of letting fear drive. Maybe it’s finally getting your online profile together and getting back out in the dating game? Is it getting to 3 auditions this month or that tap class you keep wanting to take? Write those down, too. Don’t forget the fun stuff – coffee dates with friends, treating yourself to a manicure, etc. Actions keep us motivated and accountable.
  3. Forgive Yourself – there’s a popular phrase that says, “Faith over fear.” I love this! But I’ll add to it and say,  forgiveness over fear. This means that you might miss that date night with your husband one week. Or only make it to 2 auditions. And that’s ok. Remember the gentle and compassionate idea. Constantly forgive and wake up the next day with a clean slate. So, write this down, too. Write “Forgiveness over Fear” on your desk, in your planner – get a tattoo of it – whatever you have to do to stay gentle with yourself.

I guarantee if you start doing these 3 things, fear will get quieter and quieter. I mean it’s kind of what I do every week for my clients so I’m tellin ya’ it’s possible.

Remember, what you allow will continue. So let’s decide to let action continue and just see how it goes. You with me? Let’s do this thing.

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