Since before I can remember, I’ve been afraid.
I have been facing some kind of fear nearly every moment of my conscious life, yet I somehow developed the ability to live without letting people in on the secret that I was being controlled by my fears.
A few years ago I started a Fear Journal, which is a list of all the things I can remember being afraid of since I was a kid (monsters, thunderstorms, roller coasters, heights, losing my parents, rejection, being seen as a failure, etc). Reviewing this list, I was struck with the realization that most of my specific fears flow out of the same general fear; feeling out of control.
I like being in control and struggle with issues of uncertainty. Anybody else share these challenges?!
I have been forced to realize that stability and predictability are my ultimate goals and unexpected problems are my worst nightmare.
The unfortunate reality for control-obsessed people like me is that we’re not in control of everything, so there’s always a chance the things we’re afraid of happening will actually happen, and if we continue giving power to these things we will never experience the joy, freedom and fulfillment we so desperately want.
A few years ago my life derailed and it led me on a journey that allowed – make that forced – me to recognize that I’d been wasting far too much time and energy trying to avoid things that, as it turns out, weren’t as scary as my anxious imagination had led me to believe they would be.
I can’t believe how much destruction had to take place in my life to make me aware of my issues with control and insecurity. Brene Brown says “The universe isn’t short on wake-up calls, we’re just quick to hit the snooze button,” and looking back on my life I can see that was true for me. I had been working so hard to avoid dealing with my stuff for fear that acknowledging it would cause me to be seen as a fraud.
Not long after my life fell apart I was driving through the mountains in Canada with a friend. I was just starting to realize some of the things I have now more fully come to learn when he played a song in our rental car that perfectly captured what was beginning to happen deep inside of me, I was “learning to dance with the fear I’d been running from.” (Here’s the song)
Facing your fears and insecurities is vital to living a life aligned with your values, and beginning to bring these frightening parts of yourself into the light is one of the most important things I help my clients do in coaching.
In the same way that knowing what you want is crucial to reclaiming the direction of your life, not acknowledging your fears will allow them to continue getting in your way and force you to make compromises that lead to a life you don’t really want.
Being afraid is a completely normal human thing. Finding the courage to face your fears is scary, difficult and freaking heroic.
What fears have you been running from, and what would it mean to “dance” with them?