Stop Fear from Holding You Back
I have been hiding something from you. And the reason I was doing it wasn´t even clear to me until about 8 weeks ago. You see, I have been avoiding something out of a place of fear.
You´ll notice that this is NOT my typical “expat” or “intercultural” article. The subject of fear, though, and how we hold ourselves back is extremely relevant to expat life, and anyone who´s living and working across cultures. So, my friend, I have decided to stand up and do the equivalent of a “soul strip tease” (or Seelenstrip in German).
By now, you might be thinking, “Whoa! What is so scary for Sundae to share? Has Sundae been pretending she is living in Ouagadougou this whole time just because the name sounds cool? Does Sundae have a ghost writer, akin to the infamous Milli Vanilli from the late 80s R&B band? (Yes, I´m outing my age. By the way, if you are a millennial and don´t know who they are, you can read more about Milli Vanilli here – but for the love of all that is good, please come back to this page and keep reading.)
Ok, back to my fears. You promise not to laugh when I tell you?
I was afraid of…doing video.
I know what you are thinking. It goes something like this, “Seriously, Sundae?!” Of all the things you can be afraid of? You face the potential of getting malaria where you live. You live in a country with a transitional government. Ebola was on Burkina Faso´s doorstep in August for crying out loud, and you´re scared of doing video?!?”
Yep. It´s crazy. I know it.
Afraid of doing video, from a woman who was filmed on stage for years while she was a dancer. Afraid of doing video, from a woman who would facilitate large corporate events with over 300 participants and not bat an eyelash. It´s crazypants.
This is how fear works.
It isn´t always rational (unless you are left in a room alone with a rabid tiger). But fear´s positive intention is to protect us.
The disturbing thing is our body´s response to it can actually be the same, whether the thing that scares us is real or imagined. You know the game: fight or flight, and in this case my good buddy – freeze.
So here is where you come in.
I want you to get real with yourself:
- Where are you holding yourself back?
- What do you keep putting off?
- What do you keep “saying” you´ll do but haven´t taken action on?
My hunch is that fear is right around the corner.
Do you want to find out?
Ask yourself this:
“What is the worst thing that could happen if I took action on that thing I have been avoiding?”
Take a look at your answer. My bet is that you´re staring down at what you´re afraid of.
So let´s say that now you reluctantly admit that it´s fear holding you back. Your next question is likely, “How can I take action on a thing I am afraid of doing?”
That is the fun part.
One powerful way to trick fear: Act as you would if you were not afraid.
It is that simple. This means get clear on what needs to be done and then grit your teeth and take the first important steps. The best steps to take are the ones that get you roped into what you have been putting off.
Here is my example. When I finally realized that it was fear and avoiding the “vulnerable” feeling that was holding me back, I decided I wasn´t going to let that own me. So I made myself accountable for taking action. Before you know it, I hired a professional video editor to help me with four videos I want to do for you this summer. And I just told you about it, so now there is NO turning back!
Yes, I am scaring the pants off myself – for you.
Why? Because I want you to know that I get it. When I ask my clients to do things that are scary (but totally worth it), I make myself do the same. I want you to know that this lady is one who walks out of her comfort zone, too.
I want you to know that my fears around doing video feel just as real as your fears about (fill in the blank). And I know that if we were to get down to the nitty-gritty of coaching around it, that you´d see how your fears are holding you back from great things. That these fears are not “real” ones like the one we feel when we run from a saber tooth tiger, but ones that are based on thoughts we are so used to thinking.
- “I am not good enough to do that.”
- “I´ll look stupid.”
- “People will judge me.”
- “I´m not ready.”
- “I´ll be too vulnerable.”
So here is my promise to you. You are going to get a video from me by the end of May (plus an exciting announcement for what I have coming up over the summer for you). I´ll make sure to tell you if it was as scary as it once seemed.
Now it is your turn: What can you do today that you know is good for you but you´re scared to do? Share it in the comments section below – then take action!
You are totally capable of doing the good stuff that simultaneously makes you want to take flight. You just need to take the first step.
I’m scared to speak French to French people! Which is why I’m in France
right now pretending I don’t understand the language, even though about
95% of my life in Burkina happens in French. Just because I’m ashamed of
my Burkinabè/American accent.
Hey Krystle – I love that you shared this. I get it. I am also not at a stage where I feel “proud” of my French. Who makes a more interesting conversation partner than an American woman who speaks French like a Burkinabe?! And if for some reason a few individuals along the way don´t agree, then they are not worth your stress. 😉