I started thinking about this post, Part 2 of my ACEing 2015 goal setting series, the day before clicking publish on Part 1. Somehow, despite the fact that I was super inspired and motivated, days later the bulk of what I wanted Part 2 to be just wasn’t coming to me. I would sit down and write, craft outlines, only to review my progress and not feel it. I didn’t feel it in my heart. My own words weren’t speaking to me at all.
So I stepped back and waited, occasionally stopping to really think about what it was that I was trying to achieve by writing these posts and sharing these parts of myself with you all, here on my blog. During the day, I got into the habit of noticing when I felt inspired and making a note about what it was that inspired me. I was listening to a LOT of music. I put myself out there to be found – reaching out to friends and really being present. Spending time with my kids. Cooking. Yoga.
As I did this, the searching and thinking and living my life, I was also really tapping into my awareness of myself and my actions and reactions. Being still, so I could see.
And then it hit me. 5 days later… The fears.
In Part 1 I talked about letting it out. I truly believe that this step is possibly the most important step in the whole darn process. I’m not even joking or exaggerating. Why? Because by shedding all of that stuff, you’re left with someone who comes closer to who you really are. Less baggage, fewer constraints, more equipped to be inspired and make big changes. All that, and more. That person is powerful because they are aware of who they are and they own it – it does not own them.
In all of the writing and sharing that went into the post, I forgot something. You see, I put myself into the explanation of why letting things go was important without really putting myself out there. I have a bad habit of treading this line whenever things start feeling a little too real. I am aware of the fact that I do this, but it wasn’t until recently that I became aware that other people knew it was happening when a friend totally called me out the minute it happened. Yep, I was busted. I let the fear win.
I’m not alone in this habit of letting fear cause me to react in ways that don’t really serve my best interests or enable me be successful. We all do it. We stick a toe in to test the waters and sometimes we pull back. It’s not comfortable. It doesn’t feel right. We feel like maybe we’re exposed and at risk. And to be clear – that’s ok! Pulling back is not a bad thing, in fact, sometimes it’s really about survival (fight or flight). What’s not ok is when your fear and your reaction(s) to it start holding you back.
If the reaction catalyzed by this fear is occurring when you’re not actually in danger, and all of what surrounds that reaction goes unexamined, it may be a serious problem. Why? Because it may be blocking you from living your life. From expressing who you are, sharing, and connecting with others. From being authentic. In order to break a habit, you have to first become aware of it. Then ask yourself questions and do the hard work, but we’ll get to that in a second.
In part 2 we’re going to plan how to SEE these fears and how to work with them so we can move past them. No more living in denial or feeding the fears! No more hoping others don’t notice! No more hiding.
For me this means it’s time to practice what I preach and so later this week, I’ll be sharing all of my responses to these steps, with no edits or filters. No clever pictures that crop off something I wrote at just the right spot. No dancing around the point. We’re going to talk about Fear. Gulp. Ok, well…here we go! (update: check out the post, here!)
If you’re following along, now’s the time to grab a pen and download the Fear Identification worksheet (here) or grab some paper.
Step 1. Take Note
I think that awareness is key here, so harness some of yours. Your attention to detail and to what is going on. And direct it straight back at you. Focus inward.
With that focus, as you go about your day, try to notice when a situation occurs that prompts you to react in what we’ll call a fearful way. You might pull back or feel resistant to doing something. You may deflect or project. You may mock a suggestion and try to write it off, immediately, employing humor or sarcasm in the process. You may simply feel fearful and want to run.
Write it down. Be specific. If you need a diagram, draw it. Use the back of your worksheet if you need to. Heck, use another sheet of paper if you really need it. Detail that experience, who was involved, the dynamics, etc. Whatever you feel is important. Tell the story.
Step 2. ID Your Response
What was your response? Read your story and really think about it. Write down what comes to mind.
Step 3. ID Your Trigger
When you were in this experience and feeling what you were feeling (step 1), consider your response (step 2) and try to answer this question: what was being asked or required of you in that moment?
I think there are 2 answers here. One is what was literally being asked of you. Did someone want to to do more work, commit to more tasks? That part. The second one is how you perceived what was happening. Why did this make you feel that way? A literal request is usually a bit benign, but for some reason this particular situation has made you feel fearful. Like you need to protect something. Shield yourself. So, what did you feel was being asked of you in that experience? Write the answers to these 2 questions down.
Step 4. State Your Resistance
In plain terms, state what you were resisting or fearful of and why.
Step 5. ID The Mental Pattern
Now look back at all the things work you’ve done here in steps 1-4. In all of this, there’s a pattern and it looks something like this:
I am afraid of X because of Y.
When X happens I Z.
You don’t want to Z anymore.
Step 6. Create a New Response
What do you want to do instead of Z? Write that down.
Now this was just the identification portion of one things you react to. You have your pattern identified, you know what it feels like to experience this, you even have a new response in mind. Make it happen. Decide you want it more than you fear it. Decide you want to become that person you described in Part 1 more than you want to hold onto these reactions and allow them to control you and stop you from being the best version of you.
I was listening to a podcast today and the guy (Lewis Howes) was talking about overcoming the fear of failure. It made me think about how passionate I am about the work I’m committing to do this year and also, how new and challenging and, well, different it is. Fear identification worksheets?! I mean, never did I EVER think I’d be creating these, let alone sharing them with you all. So while listening to Lewis talk, I realized that hey – we all have fears. And you know what? The goal isn’t to get rid of all of them, it’s to be aware and commit to working and moving forward, towards your goals and passions. To not let them hinder you. Be aware of the fears and the failures, but stop thinking they’re negatives. They’re not. They’re lessons. Fear and failure are opportunities to get feedback on what’s working and what’s not working.
I’m so down with that. Are you?