‘Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.’
We all have blind spots. One of the biggest is how fear impacts us and drives a wedge between our intentions and our impact. I don’t believe any of us intend to be judgemental, disconnected, insensitive, or achieve less than our full potential. But we can be and we are despite our best intentions, despite our best intentions. When we are fearful, we lack the capacity to turn off our judgement, allow ourselves to connect and be sensitive to other people’s perspectives.
I don’t believe it is possible to be fearless. Besides, it has a purpose – it promotes survival. Yet, we spend so much time focussing on our fears and what we don’t want — and this doesn’t move us forward — instead of focussing on what we do want. Focussing on what we don’t want paradoxically brings more of it into our lives. It’s got something to do with how our brains work. Envisioning what we want and what it will be like when we achieve it is necessary to achieve what we want – it activates our medial prefrontal cortex.
I recently explored this issue of fear in my Positive Plenary group-coaching program for women, which fosters their unique capacity to make a difference in the world and provide them with the tools and support they need to achieve their goals.
‘I have been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I have never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.’
We all have fears and when we focus on our fears we are focussing on surviving and not thriving and yes, we invite all of the things we are fearful of into our lives. So, what should we focus on? How can we put ourselves in a position to envision the best possible future for ourselves? Follow these simple steps:
- Make room for the fear. Don’t fight it. Acknowledge it and if it doesn’t go away just let it be.
- Laugh at fear. Yep, you heard me, have a good laugh at it. The bigger and more ridiculous the laugh the better. Laughter kills fear.
- Accept it and, see below.
- Take committed action towards your intentions and values. This is the really cool part and how you remove the wedge between your intentions and your impact.
Want to hear how this works from someone else? Take a look at these pop haikus written by Positive Plenary members:
I looked at my fears
And found them to be hollow
I can accept them.
Emma Batchelor, Founder and Editor of Leiden
To tackle fear
Acknowledge there is room but
Question the fear
Lesley Harris, Founder of ACT Women of Giving
Perspective of fear
Accept, defuse, laugh it off
Guinea Pig laughing
Robyn MacDonald, public servant
Illustration: Lexi Keelan