Work You Love
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Work You Love

How to Make Your Fear Work for You

How to Find Your Delightful Passion & Purpose: Work You Love 101 (#26)

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

In my last prompt, I encouraged you to pursue a goal that both excites and scares you. So, let’s say you’ve identified what you really want.

And, let’s say that emotionally, you’re finding yourself in a place similar to my client Andy (not his real name) when he decided he would finally start promoting his new business.

Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev on Unsplash

In other words, you really, really want to go for your goal 💪 — and you feel an equally compelling urge to hide underneath the sofa. 😨

Have you ever experienced these contradictory feelings at the same time?

Based on my observation, it’s super-common that people are scared by what they most want.

This brings us to an important question…

If you pursue something that scares you, how do you stop fear from sabotaging you?

The first thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t listen to culture. Repeat: do not listen to culture!

Basically, our culture only gives us two bad options for dealing with fear:

Option №1: You valiantly start fighting your fear.
→ Result: your fear gets stronger. ❌

Option №2: You not-so-valiantly decide to hide underneath the sofa.
→ Result: your floor gets an unintentional cleaning — but nothing else improves in your life. ❌

And because our culture likes the whole Don Quixote/tilting at windmill’s approach, it advises you to pick Option №1.

Which would be great — if it actually worked.

Let’s take a look at…

Why fighting your fear doesn’t work

What’s the purpose of fear?

It’s to keep you safe from harm. Your fear doesn’t want you to get eaten by a saber-tooth tiger (or by any other predators, for that matter).

So, how would your fear be able to keep you safe if you could shut it up easily?

For instance, imagine this conversation:

Cave-You casually strolls through the woods, collecting local, organic and gluten-free blueberries from the bushes. (Millennia before organic food became a thing. Go Cave-You, little trendsetter!)

Suddenly, some twigs (or trees?) snap.

Fear: “Be careful! This might be a saber-tooth tiger.”

Cave-You: “Shut up, fear!”

Fear: “Oh, okay.”

<five minutes later>

Cave-You gets mauled by a hungry saber-tooth tiger.

Fear: “I told you so…”

In other words, if fear were less persistent, it couldn’t do its job! And, the job of fear is super-important. Let’s face it:

Without fear, we most likely wouldn’t be here. Our ancestors would have gotten themselves killed by doing something they really shouldn’t have been doing.

In other words, we don’t get to tell fear to shut up!

Despite all that fear has done for us by helping humanity survive,…

Our culture is completely averse to fear

For instance, check out the following quotes:

“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.” ~ Dorothy Thompson

(Tell that to Cave-You!) 😇 (RIP, Cave-You! *sniffles*)

“There is perhaps nothing so bad and so dangerous in life as fear.” ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

(There is. Saber-tooth tigers, for instance, …once upon a time.)

“Living with fear stops us taking risks, and if you don’t go out on the branch, you’re never going to get the best fruit.” ~ Sarah Parish

(And if you get eaten by a saber-tooth tiger, you never get to enjoy the nice, tasty blueberries.)

So, the moral of the story:

We need a more skillful way of dealing with fear

What are we doing when we are trying to suppress our fear (fight it) or just let it push us around (flee it)?

We’re treating our fear, our very own in-built survival system, as an enemy. That’s right, as an enemy. (We typically don’t fight or flee our friends, do we?)

When I put it that way, doesn’t that sound kind of… crazy?

So, what would be a better way of handling fear? Well, how about treating it like an adviser instead?

You don’t need to follow all the suggestions an adviser has for you — but it would probably be smart to at least hear that person out, wouldn’t it?

The same is true for your fear.

In many cases, your fears actually have some basis in reality. Wouldn’t it make more sense to actually be aware of the worst-case scenario, so that you can make a plan to deal with it?

Once you do that, your fear will shut up and actually let you get to work.

Here’s how that might look like:

Cave-You and the saber-tooth tiger, take 2

Suddenly, some twigs (or trees?) snap.

Fear: “Be careful! This might be a saber-tooth tiger.”

Cave-You: “Oh! Not good.”

Fear: “SABER-TOOTH TIGER!!!!”

Cave-You: “So, what should I do?”

Fear: “RUN!”

Fear: “FASTER!!!”

<five minutes later>

Organic blueberries get mauled by a hungry Cave-You who safely made it back to the cave.

Fear: “I told you so…”

— THE END —

With all that being said, let’s move on to…

Taking action

Grab a pen and paper. 📝Then, take a moment to go through the following process.

  • Pick a goal that really excites and scares you
    Write down the goal and make it as specific as possible. For instance: “By January 2020, I have 5 full-time employees.” 💪
  • Rank your fear
    On a scale of 1 (no fear at all) to 10 (panic attack), how much fear does that goal brings up for you?
  • Explore your worst-case scenario
    What is the worst-case scenario your fear wants to warn you about? Even if it sounds catastrophic to you, please write it down. For instance: “I screw up and have to fire all my employees. My former clients and employees and even my friends and family all hate me. I end up living under a bridge.” Ouch! 😢
  • Brainstorm options 💭
    Brainstorm what actions you could take to make that outcome less likely. For instance: “I could begin by hiring freelancers to work for me. I could also get advice from people who have been through this before. I could also use a Mastermind group and perhaps also a business coach to keep me accountable.”
  • Pick one of these options and start taking action
    For instance: “I could definitely use a Mastermind group right now, even before I reach my goals. So, I think I will brainstorm a list of people to ask if they’d like to be a part of my Mastermind group.”

The idea 💡

If you want to create a life that is in alignment with your purpose and passion, learn how to make friends with your fears. Instead of treating your fear as an enemy, treat it as an adviser.

Here’s the secret:

You don’t need to make your fear work for you. It already does. You just need to let it.

How can you feel better in just 5 minutes right now? And what do you need to pay attention to most when creating work you love?

If you’d like answers to these questions, I invite you to get my free Work You Love Bundle.

It contains my Mini Meditation for Stress-Relief. This will help you get into a more relaxed state in just 5 minutes.

You will also receive my Essential Guide to Work You Love. It explains the 4 key components of work you love.

That way, you know what to pay attention to!

You can get my free Work You Love Bundle here.

Originally published at https://www.workyoulovecoach.com/how-to-make-your-fear-work-for-you on October 22, 2018.

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