Fear is something we all experience. It doesn’t matter how many barriers we break through with fear, the fact is it’s constantly there. The more we grow, the more fear will pop up to say, “Hello.” So if we can’t stop fear, how best can we tackle fear ?
Understanding our own reactions and triggers can help us to make clearer decisions on how we can move forward in each situation.
Fear will appear in most people in the form of three choices (none of which we have a personal choice over – well immediately at least).
We either experience:
And it’s not uncommon to experience a cycle of all three before we decide to take action, or not!
A few months ago, Janice* contacted me because she knew she wanted to move her business in a new direction, but something was stopping her and she wanted to explore what this could possibly be.
It turned out that it wasn’t in fact fear of failure; it was in fact a fear of success that she was experiencing. She was fighting internally with every reason why she didn’t deserve success. This lead to several months of running away from her passion, causing her to feel depressed and then frozen.
Being frozen can be very debilitating and the feeling is motionless and it’s one we feel no control over. Being frozen for me is like being stuck in a clear iceberg. I can see the world around me, but I feel powerless to move. The great thing about ice though is that it does melt and when we decide that the fire of our passion is worthy, the faster the ice melts. It may take one month to melt or it may take two minutes.
The most important thing though is when fear strikes moving is key to becoming friends with fear. But taking even the simplest of decisions can be incredibly hard. However, not taking one is even harder. Taking a decision allows us to keep moving and actually there is no wrong decision. Decisions can always be changed at any point and our best learning comes from these moments.
One decision may well be to just run – sometimes this can be our best option depending on the circumstances. Perhaps we are just not in the right place, or we require more information. But if that niggling feeling of passion doesn’t leave you, then it may well be time to reconsider your choice of running.
Unfortunately, far too many of us go into fight mode. The simplest reason for this for many is that it’s an easy way to protect ourselves from taking full responsibility for what we are experiencing. It’s far easier to just blame others for the external situation than to face our own fears of what we are going through.
For example, I will always remember one particular student I taught about six years ago. Even at the age of 21, Peter* was very loud, disruptive and always argumentative and was certainly not a team player. However, he used his skills as a class clown to keep his colleagues on side.
He was very verbally aggressive to me and the more I ignored his behavior, the more he would ramp it up. I understood why he was behaving this way (and he probably did too deep down). But that would be far too painful to admit, so it was easier to blame me for his ‘having to come to class’.
Then on one particular day, I asked him to stay behind, which as you can probably imagine he wasn’t very keen on. I looked him in the eye with full love and respect and asked him, ‘Why do you hate yourself so much?”
His immediate reaction was shock, then anger, and then he was ready for the flight – so I grabbed his arm and gently asked the question again. He froze and then burst into tears and we spoke for the next 30 minutes about what was really going on in his life. He felt out of control and had even contemplated suicide as he hated who he was becoming to cover up his lack of self-worth.
And for me, this is why each time I come across an aggressive person, I can’t judge their reasons. I don’t have to accept their behavior, and I can’t judge it as I have no idea what kind of fear this person is experiencing.
The more we understand our own triggers, the more we understand whether we are in flight, fight or freeze…and that really does give us more choices.
*All names have been changed to protect confidentiality
Hannah Havas – The Fear Coach is an international Coach, Trainer and Speaker specialising in Fear and Storytelling for leaders. She works with leaders and organisations all over the world bringing their ideas and strategy to life, achieving clarity and engaging communication. She works with businesses to use a story driven approach to connect and restore humanity by tapping into the natural power we all posses.
Having lived in many countries and currently based in France she has extensive experience of working with intercultural teams and breaking through cultural stereotypes and celebrating the uniqueness of individual
Written byHannah Havas
Article contributed by The Fear Coach