“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.”
Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love
I’d like to begin to talk about fear. I hear this word in approximately 80% of my coaching sessions. It is at the crux of many challenges when it comes to our growth and progress. There is so much to unpack, decipher and manage when it comes to fear that I know this will just be the start of many conversations around this topic.
Today, I want to dig into this aspect of fear: We all have a choice when it comes to fear.
We can experience False Emotions Appearing Real or Face Everything and Rise.
The choice is up to you.
Before we jump too far ahead to some of the ways we can respond to our fear, let’s address some questions around fear, starting with a common definition.
What is fear?
Karl Albrecht, an author and management consultant, defines fear as “an anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation of an imagined event or experience.” Albrecht posits that every single fear we have can be tied back to one of five core fears. These are:
Extinction - the idea you will cease to exist;
Mutilation - this is rooted in our body’s boundaries;
Loss of autonomy–being held beyond our control;
Ego-death- most commonly manifested as humiliation, embarrassment or shame.
Ego-death/humiliation fear is the most common type of fear that I see in my practice.
How does fear show up?
When fear shows up, it very often manifests itself physically. Last week, I was in a session with one of my clients. A big organizational change was underway and this client needed to deliver the news. Together, we were walking through their change management plan and designing a meeting for employees to raise awareness of this change and create space for open dialogue with them. As we dug deeper together, I could sense a bit of resistance on the part of my client. I asked:
– What do you think is interfering with your desire to run this meeting? – I’m afraid that they won’t listen to me and say something like “You’re not my boss.” I’m afraid that they will say “I don’t want to do things this way, we have always done things differently.” I’m afraid that they will talk behind my back, that they will think that I’m incompetent, that they won’t follow me… – What do you feel? – I feel fear. – Where in your body do you feel it? – In my stomach.
Why should we release fear?
At this point, some skeptics out there may express their cynicism: Is being afraid really all that bad? Here are just a few reasons why releasing fear will help us step into our higher purpose:
Fear constricts everything, especially thinking
Leaders driven by fear pay a high energetic cost: working hard without creating what they want
Leaders driven by fear habitually seek safety over purpose
Additionally, according to experts, fear and trauma can weaken the immune system, which can lead to severe physical ailments. Living in a state of constant or frequent fear may also have a negative impact on our mental health, bringing about depression and heightened anxiety, among many other symptoms.
While we cannot control a feeling of fear, we can work to let the feeling go when it arrives.
So, what can I do?
We have identified that fear is real, it is common and there are several negative potential ramifications to not releasing our fear. When fear shows up, here are some things you can do to transform your F.E.A.R. into a “Face Everything and Rise” experience:
Allow an appropriate emotional release to restore thinking. Crying can make you smarter. After laughter, thinking improves.
Ask yourself: Why am I so afraid? What evidence do I have that my fear is valid?
If you’re new to this idea, don’t fight your fear alone. Do this in partnership with your coach, therapist, or another person you trust.
Finally, all fear is of future events. If you are established in the “now moment,” you cannot be afraid. So, ask yourself: Where am I now? Look around you. Is your space safe? Take a deep breath in and out.
Smile. You’re not alone. We all are fighting our fears. And by making a choice, we’ll finally win.
So, what do you choose? False Emotions Appearing Real or Face Everything and Rise?
And remember, there is always a choice.