Often times, I have the uncanny feeling that something is wrong. It’s hard to put my finger on it, so I go through my list: the stove is off, the kids are in school, they left happy, I’ve done all my morning rituals including designing my day and manifesting. I’m on the ball with my people and my to-dos. I’m prioritizing, getting lots done, and following my plan for the day.
Nonetheless, throughout the first part of my day I have a low-grade sense of something is wrong. Hmmmm.
Then, at a certain point in the day, it all switches and I feel freer, happier and more energetic. For no reason. Almost like I got a magical pep talk from somewhere. Odd, right? Can you guess when this shift happens most days? I finally figured it out. It’s right after I do something I am afraid to do.
Want to know common things I’m afraid of? Here are five tough things that tend to give me the heebie-jeebies:
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1) Leading groups in person or on the phone.
Even though I do it all the time, I am always nervous to face the audience, especially when I share personal stories from my life, which I do often. Even though you might think the fear would subside with experience, many thoughts fly through my head before, during, and after leading an event. I fear being judged by the audience and feel vulnerable when sharing. And when I’m not talking, I worry about being unliked. Next, my mind beats me up about the people who attended the event. If there’s a lot, I get scared about delivering the content and if not many people show up, I think I’m a loser. Nice mind game, ay? I now have promises about stopping those thoughts and being present no matter what I’m sharing or how many people are in the room.
2) Preparing to lead.
For most events, I practice the content out loud first to see how it sounds, smooth out rough patches and make sure I’ve included all important points. It’s critical to practice. Being prepared makes all the difference. Even though I know this, I used to wait until the last minute to practice, which DID NOT help me feel prepped, psyched, and ready. Now I have a promise that I MUST practice the content at least 24 hours before the event. It’s funny, because here, there is no audience to impress or to judge me when I practice leading, yet, I still feel scared. I figured out that I actually fear my own judgment as much as others’ judgment, and the act of demonstrating my work, even to myself, feels really vulnerable. I get the same high once I face and move through this fear, even if I find lots of problems with my work.
3) Talking with people I think are further along than I am or who I want something from.
I hope you’re seeing a trend now. Any opportunity to be rejected in any way is a source of fear. If I have the supposed upper hand, like when I am someone’s boss, I am much more relaxed. But knowing I need to call someone to ask for something, wooooweee, I’d rather bury myself in email. That low-grade feeling of hiding or that something is wrong, doesn’t go away until I deal.
4) Dealing with someone who is mad at me or wants something from me and getting resolved.
Here again, the need to be vulnerable is making itself all too obvious. I know in this case I am going to be humbled, embarrassed or, at the very least, will have to work through some emotions. Most of us spend our days very busy, avoiding unpleasant emotions. I do, too. But these conversations turn out to be the richest, most intimacy-building parts of my day, and by the end of the day, are the interactions of which I am most proud.
5) Delivering unpleasant feedback, aka “constructive criticism,” and being resolved and OK with it.
If there is anything as bad as dealing with one’s own sticky feelings, it’s being present for someone else’s while they are dealing. In fact, the peak moments of life usually happen when one or two people (or more) work through sticky emotions together, and yet we’d like to avoid these experiences as much as possible. I only have to face this one every once in awhile (because the people around me are SO awesome), but like all the others, the feeling of relief and connection afterwards is well worth the build up.
I bet you have a similar list of things that scare you, and if it’s anywhere near as long as mine, you could create a sexier context for dealing with fear rather than avoiding it. It took me awhile, but I’m so glad now that I face my fears regularly, daily even. I suggest you be alert enough to feel and call it out for what it is. What will help is if you list your triggers from experience, as I have. Now that I see my triggers, I can have a much better sense of humor about that “something is wrong” sensation.
The next step is to have rules about how you deal with your triggers, so they don’t get to “rule you.” As the “author of my life,” I take charge over this mechanism of fear and how it treats me, by promising to prepare for leading in advance (which also makes me much less afraid to lead) and promising to have difficult conversations and get resolved with people with whom I’m having difficulty within 24 hours. I also have a promise to spend an hour once a week reaching out to people with whom I want to partner, so I can’t avoid that either.
As I implied, sometimes it seems the high of being on the other side of fear is worth the anxiety wave, but after much analysis, I think it really isn’t. Fear can be turned into excitement when you know how to spot it and leash it. You’ll still be honoring emotion, you just won’t be getting sucked down into the “something is wrong” pit. The remarkable thing, which I have learned from experience, is that regardless of how mature you are about your fear, when you act in the face of it, you feel like you’ve just had the best coffee ever, and the high lasts longer!
How will you get resolved today?
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P.S. If you’re ready to get resolved once and for all with a person you’ve been having trouble with (yes, this includes family members, friends, and co-workers), join me and the inimitable yoga instructor and author Elena Brower for our special upcoming co-led tele-talk, Getting Resolved with People. Don’t let difficult conversations be something that scares you — get practical tools to come out smartly (and proudly!) on the other side.