FIVE LESSONS ABOUT FEAR
Recently I shared on my social media channels that I was having a ‘wobble’. That I was feeling THE FEAR. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll know the kind of fear I was talking about: the kind of fear that makes you doubt yourself; that shakes your self-confidence and makes you want to escape back into the security of full-time employment. You know that one, right?
I’ve learnt a lot about fear over the years because as well as the entrepreneur’s fear of failure, I’ve faced the fear that comes from being diagnosed with cancer; the fear that arises when you lose your job; when you have no money and no way of paying your bills. I’ve faced the fears that I hope no woman I know has to face (although I know so many have) the fear of physical assault, abuse and rape.
If you’re trying to change the world, you’re going to get hit by THE FEAR every now and again. I don’t believe in the adage ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ – that may work when you’re about to jump out of a plane; or bungie jump off a bridge but when your fear is crippling your confidence in yourself, you need to find a way to release that fear not simply try and ‘push on through’. And I do believe that there are antidotes to fear. I shared my favourite techniques for releasing fear recently in a Facebook Live and talked about it in my newsletter. But this is such an important topic that I am also doing this blog about it. So here are my antidotes to fear. I hope you find them helpful:
The antidote to fear is connection.
I recently watched a TED talk by Johann Hari about addiction. In his talk, Johann argues that isolation worsens addiction and that connection is the key to overcoming it. Firstly, I highly recommend his talk. Secondly, it occurred to me that the same is true of fear. When I look at all of the remedies and techniques I use to tackle fear, they nearly all come back to connection of one kind or another.
Connection to others
When I look back on the times when I was most afraid, they are also the times I felt most alone. Lying in a hospital bed at 2am, after major surgery to treat cancer, wondering how I would pay my mortgage and terrified that I would lose my home. Isolated from my friends and family by a husband who hated me having any connection beyond my connection with him. Working at home, alone, on my new business day after day. These days the first thing I do when I am feeling afraid is reach out to someone I love and who loves me or someone who shares my vision within my community of changemakers. I’m not asking for what my friend Jo would call a ‘wine and whine’ session – but an opportunity to share how I feel; seek reassurance; and reconnect.
Connection to your purpose
When I work with clients one of the first things I get them to do is to get really clear about their purpose. Then we map out where they are on their journey towards that purpose – all the milestones along the way. Why? Partly because it’s an essential part of developing your communications strategy (and that’s what I do!) but also because connecting with your purpose can be a great antidote to fear. And looking back on the journey and seeing how far you’ve already come also helps to put fear in perspective. Fear hates perspective!
Connection to Source
This won’t work for everyone but I do believe that even those of you who profess to have no religion or belief in spirituality of any kind, may find meditation useful in this scenario. For me the silent, focus on your breath and ‘clear your mind’ style of meditation has never really worked. In the silence all I can feel is the fear! Instead, I do a more active form of meditation – based on chanting the Gayatri mantra. It grounds me, brings me into a deeper sense of connection with what I call ‘Source’ and allows me to surrender and let go of the fear.
Releasing fear (and connecting to your body)
Now for my tried and tested, fail-safe, ‘no fear can survive it’ technique. Are you ready?
Yes, you read that right.
Fear is an emotion and rather than suppress that emotion, you need to find a healthy way to release it. Dancing, for me, is one of the best ways to do that. Find some suitably loud, dance music and let go! Dance in your kitchen, your bedroom, your living room. Dance in the garden. Dance in the street. Just keep moving until you’re hot, sweaty and a bit out of breath. Give yourself over to the music and movement and watch that fear disappear.
Everyone has their own method for tackling fear. Feel free to share your top tips in the comments below. And above all, remember that connection is the ultimate antidote to fear – so reach out and connect, any time. I’m always here.
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