How to Take Action and Stop Giving Fear a Second More of Your Life
Fear was a big part of my life for many years.
I was frightened of everything: what other people might say, what they might do. I was even frightened of my shadow, if I'm really honest with you.
You name it, I was frightened of it, and that's not a good place to be.
I modified who I was to fit what everybody else wanted. I became a version of me that everybody else wanted but I didn't want and I let that happen because I was so frightened.
It has taken me 48 years to understand what fear had done and how it had made me behave.
On a professional level, I was described as fearless. I was the person who was out there making deals, bringing in revenue to the businesses that I worked for without a care in the world.
At home, I was completely different. I wouldn't have breathed without permission.
I remember, when I was around 20 and newly married, I was so frightened of saying or doing the wrong things that I wouldn’t be able to follow a simple recipe without checking the steps with someone else.
I would have the recipe in front of me and it would tell me the stages that I needed to go through. But I was so frightened of getting it wrong, of being a failure or a disappointment and not living up to the perfectionist ideals that I'd put on myself and that I felt everybody else had put on me that – despite having clear instructions in front of me – I would actually call someone to check what I was supposed to do to follow the recipe.
When I Stopped Being Controlled By My Fears
I can’t really pinpoint the moment where I said enough was enough.
There wasn’t that kind of light bulb moment when I realised it.
For me it was a gradual realisation that I was making things happen in my life - only me. I was being the difference in situations where I had no one else to call on or to ask, and that must mean something - that must mean I can do stuff, I can get stuff done.
That's when it started to click in my brain.
The big thing about fear is that it stops you from doing what you want to do, a bit like control.
Fear can of course be useful in some situations. But it is so important to make sure you are not controlled by fear.
Some important things to think about and remember:
1. We think we're alone
We think we're the only people who have that challenge, and we think no one wants to support us.
That's what fear wants.
Fear wants us to think that we're alone because it needs us to think that we are the only people that struggle so that we'll rely on it. Fear feeds off us thinking that no one will help us, or love us or want us.
You are NOT alone.
2. Why is fear worth your time?
How much of your time do you spend on being frightened? What is so amazing about fear and what is so awful about you that you would happily trade your life to make fear (and I see fear as a person) stronger? How much time do you have and how much time do you want to give to fear?
In 2015 women in the UK lived to 83 years and five months. I am 50 years and 9 months. Based on those stats I have 4,712 days left.
That’s not many days!
So far, fear has had 17,500 days of my life (until my 48th birthday).
I don’t want to give fear a second more of my life.
There are still things I am frightened of, but I don’t spend every waking moment worrying about them, like I used to.
3. We mistake hate for being the biggest challenge that we face in the world, but actually it's not – it's fear.
Gandhi said that, and I think he was right.
When one of us is frightened, in that panic state, for most of us friends and family will rally around. But what about when the world is frightened, when its paralysed with inaction allowing things to happen?
We need to be our best. We need to face our fears, and we need to accept that we might be frightened or we might be worried about something. We are allowed to be frightened, we're not expected to be powerful and all-conquering at all times. The problem is when we slip into that default position of fear.
So, how can we move away from fear?
The 3 most important things I think that you can do to move away from fear are:
1. LOVE YOURSELF
Saying ‘Love yourself’ is really easy, but really hard to do. I understand that. But truly- love yourself. Accept all the things that make you, you. The good, the bad, the strong, the weak, and love yourself anyway.
You are the only person who can be you.
You cannot be someone else. You're not meant to be someone else.
You're not made to be someone else; you can't compare yourself to someone else and say well they managed to do this and they've got the same background as me because they're not you - their DNA isn’t you; the way their mind thinks isn't the way your mind thinks; they don't look the same way as you; they don't have the same friends and family and support networks that you have. It's all different.
Love who you are.
2. Be kind to yourself
Stop beating yourself up – don’t listen to that trash talk voice. We’ve all got it, I know I have! I now choose to ignore it.
3. Take one step outside of fear
See what happens – has your life changed? What did you think would happen? Did it happen?
Watch for your physical reactions and your emotional reactions. Understand them; hear your heart beating a bit faster and accept it.
Be kind to yourself and then step back home. And then repeat it again tomorrow and take one extra step and be brave.
That is how you can manage to start moving forwards and stop letting fear stop you. That’s how I managed to do it. It was through taking tiny steps.
Don't be big and bold and brave straight off because, if you're frightened, it's not going to work.
Fear will tell you that you can’t do that, and you will listen and it will be game over.
Take small steps, and you’ll make progress and one day you will look back and feel proud that you aren’t letting fear control your life anymore.