Overcoming fear

Woman, flying through the air with arms outstretched

Once we have learned to find the opportunities in any situation, there can still be three main reasons why we might find ourselves stuck.

The first of these is overthinking. The second is not knowing who we want to become. And the third is simply that we feel afraid.

As Nelson Mandela (quoting Marianne Williamson) said in his inaugural speech as president of South Africa:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

As Mandela also said,

“There is no passion to be found… in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Whether we feel afraid to fail or succeed, these times of change are creating an increasing range of issues that somebody needs to step up to address.

Our playing small does not serve the world, it does not serve the people around us, and most of all it does not serve us. In this time of change, when all ways forward will be difficult and unpredictable, the biggest risk comes from staying still.

So the best way forward is to find an issue that inspires you, manage the risks, and inspire yourself and others to do what needs to be done. Know your purpose and values and know that, in an imperfect world, this is what you are here to do, this is what has meaning for you. So find a way, no matter how large or small, to put it into action.

And if you still feel afraid, a simple coaching tool that you can use to deal with fear is to ask:

What’s the worst that could happen?

When you know the answer to that you can create a plan to deal with it. And then your downside is covered. Or if you can’t find a way to deal with it, choose a smaller goal that still inspires you and find a way to do that.

Then you will be able to feel the fear and do it anyway.

And when we allow ourselves to step into the place where we align ourselves with what we care most about, we bring the most value to the world, we experience the most flow and the most fun, and we fully express the best version of ourselves. That, surely, is what life is for?

And as Nelson Mandela and Marianne Williamson also said:

“As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Is fear holding you back from doing something? What’s the worst that could happen if you did it? Could you handle that? Or is there something else you could do, still in line with your purpose and values, that brings a level of risk which is better aligned with where you are now?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By Stephanie Carter via StockPholio.net

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