On the other side of fear: the land of possibility and growth

By August 11, 2015 Blog
August 11, 2015 Blog

Firstly, a big thank you to all of you who have helped me with my coaching challenge. From Amsterdam to Bali, New York to Buenos Aires, I’m so grateful and proud to say that I made it: all 50 sessions booked on the calendar!

Speaking to so many of you in the past weeks has been amazing opportunity for me to dig deeper into what keeps us awake at night, what lights our fires and makes us dream the biggest dreams. Self-care, ways of working more effectively, stepping into uncertainty, exploring dreams and passions, changing jobs, cultivating authenticity, and deepening relationships – the things that keep us occupied are varied but also oh so familiar. In essence, we are all the same, looking for meaning, fulfillment, and connections.

You’ll see many of these topics coming by on the blog in the coming months, and today I wanted to kick things off with the minor issue of fear. Oh yes, that one baby!

Fear and I have become close companions during many stages of my life, not the least this latest adventure here in Bali. In the past I’ve had times when fear has stopped me in my tracks, made me break out in cold sweat, unable to take even the smallest step forward. Fear of failure has been so strong for me that I literally almost broke down. What made it worse was that this was all about perceived threat – my brain was working some serious Jedi mind tricks on me!

Now this is also the person who leapt from the highest bridge bungee jump at a whopping 216 metres in South Africa (minor detail: I’m afraid of heights) and more recently moved to Bali, following my heart and passion. Am I fearless? No, absolutely not. There are days when I wonder what the hell I’m doing and whether I’ve lost the plot. Seriously. Then I look around and see where I’m at and what I’m doing.

And then I also know that breaking through the walls of fear is so enormously rewarding. How do I hear you ask?

  • First, if you’re in the midst of the storm, calm fear down by doing some simple deep breathing exercises and meditation. Even just a couple of minutes can help relieve the stress response that prevents us from thinking straight, and bring us back in the present moment. In fact, I would highly recommend starting a regular meditation practice to build those presence muscles that will allow you to tap into that well of calm and sanity. There are quite a few meditation apps out there. Headspace seems to be really popular, so might be worth checking out. For the more Buddhist inclined, one my personal favourite meditation teachers is Tara Brach, who also does a regular podcast that comes highly recommended. This is not airy-fairy la dee da I’m on Cloud 9 stuff, this is a workout of the mind. Strong body, strong mind – makes sense, no? Just figure out what works for you.
  • Then, check in with your friend Fear: is this a real or perceived threat? Yes, indeed fear is your close friend. The so-called Fight of Flight response can keep you from real danger and protect you. Yet, our brain also plays tricks with us sometimes, creating a fear response that is unnecessary. So ask yourself is this a real threat or does it just live in the wondrous world of your imagination?
  • Because it’s our thoughts that can create fear, challenge them. Question them – are you even real? What are all the scenarios that are possible? And if you have to, check out the worst case scenario. How bad would it be, really? And become aware of the fact that there is probably a huge range of options between the worst- and best-case.
  • Be ok with feeling the discomfort of fear and be ok with knowing that the feeling of fear is never really going to go away unless you break through it, unleashing its powerful hold of you. That doesn’t mean you have to do it all in one go, but take small steps if necessary. Slowly but surely facing your fear, one step at a time. Cultivate courage and get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
  • Think about other times when you faced your fear and it turned out really well. What did that bring you? Think about how amazing it would be if you could do the same now. Lean into fear, even just a little, and think about what could lie on the other side: the excitement and exhilaration of doing something new, confidence that is boosted, and the best of all, walking into the land of possibility – the place where your dreams live.

If we want to live our lives to the fullest potential, fear will be our partner. The choice we make is how we respond. How you experience fear will only change by dealing with it, i.e. confronting it. Do you want to play small and be ruled by fear? Or do we breathe in courage and step across the line into the land of growth and possibility? If you don’t, it will chase you forever and will continue to stop you from achieving your biggest dreams.

Courage, my dear dream chaser.

I would love to hear from you as well! How have you overcome fear and what did it bring you?

For the thrill seekers amongst you, check out the bungee jump at Bloukrans, South Africa. Highly recommended as a once in a lifetime event. Just so I didn’t spell it out enough: you’re on your own, I’m never doing that again.

If you’d like to work with me on overcoming fear, please feel free to get in touch. I will continue to offer first coaching sessions for free as ultimately I believe it will be the best way for you to experience coaching and see whether we are a fit. So if you’re interested, drop me a line at info@naomisaelens.com

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