Updated: Apr 7
Today I'm thinking about fear and the things we say to hide behind it. So I want to talk about common fear statements, what they mean and why we should stop speaking them over ourselves.
I think it's important to include context when we are talking about the things that could potentially hinder us. As it relates to the things that scare us, it's important to be clear about what we believe those things are versus covering them up with blanket "fear statements". By fear statements, I mean saying common phrases like " fear of failure" or "I'm afraid I'll get hurt". Things that don't really get to the root of the problem, but are often easier to say. Yes, I get it. I've said them before, especially fear of failure. But I had to get really clear about what "failure" means to me. Otherwise, I'm putting something out into the world without context or explanation. I'm also attaching words to my life that don't add any value. None of this gives me the power to create a solution. So, let's look break this down and look at a scenario so this makes sense.
The Statement - Fear of Failure. Let us say you are presented with an opportunity to run a major project or take on a new endeavor. While you want to be excited about it, your nerves prevent you from accepting the opportunity because of your overwhelming fear of failure. The statement alone is not enough to explain why it would force you to walk away from what seems to be a tremendous opportunity. So now the question becomes, what is really going on?
The experience – So here’s the thing. FEAR, by itself, is nothing. In order for fear to make sense, to thrive, or to cause a reaction, fear needs to be attached to something else. Fear needs an experience, emotion a word…something else to validate its existence. As a result, fear is more of a distraction and a definite scapegoat, instead of the problem. Knowing this, getting to the real WHAT, becomes important. How do you determine what is hiding behind our fear? Well for this I think you should ask yourself some questions. So, let's explore the current scenario. You chose not to take on a new endeavor because of the fear of failure. The question I would ask you is what does failure mean to you? Let’s assume that you respond to that question like this: Failure means that I don’t do well and people question if I should have the opportunity. To that statement, I might respond…AND? You might say, People may not respect me in my role. Again, I might respond, AND? You might say, It might make it hard for me to lead. Just for fun, I’d probably say AND? One more time lol. By now, you’ll be annoyed but you might indulge me once more and say, they might not like me because they don’t think I should be there. And I might notice that you are less composed at this moment, so I don’t say AND, again. Instead, I might ask you... what’s wrong with them not liking you? And let’s just say you have no response.
I might assess that you are NOT afraid of failing in the role. You’re both equipped and prepared to do this job and you deserve this opportunity. But being rejected and not feeling comfortable navigating relationships is a harder pill to swallow and it’s easier to call it fear of failure than it is to say I don’t like how I feel when I believe I’m being rejected.
The solution – first of all, if you’re reading this, I want to pause and ask if you’re okay? You’re probably going over this in your head and unpacking your own fear. If it’s unearthing something that you would prefer to ignore..be still, and work through the moment.
Now, that you see how those fear statements are an elaborate coverup…let’s expose it. I’ll tell you what has worked for me. I just call it out and deal with it head-on. The moment I recognize it, I only speak to that. I don’t do this back and forth with “fear”. I deal directly with the source. So, using the same scenario, if I uncover that what I’m really worried about is being rejected by my new team members or employees, I need to figure out 2 things: 1. Why does this bother me so much and 2. What's the worst that could happen? So in this case, why does the new team not liking you bother you so much? If they don’t ever like you and you don’t establish a relationship on some level, what’s the worst that could happen?
Undoubtedly, digging beyond the surface reveals a different perspective on the truth. Saying that you have a fear of failure isn’t the same as saying that you struggle to build and preserve relationships. You could also go a step further and ask how this could affect your ability to do your job effectively. Getting to the bottom of this will lead you down a path to acknowledging and ultimately conquering your fears.
I will say it again, fear is a distraction. Its primary goal is to keep us from dealing with the hard and sometimes painful things we would rather avoid. Those things are connected to emotions that we do not want to experience, and experiences we would prefer to forget. Fear, in a strange bedfellow type of way, helps us to cope, and therefore we are fine with using it as a crutch. Using broad fear statements allows us to cover up and package away from the things we are struggling with. However, when we are open and willing to peel back the layers of our fear statements, we do become stronger. We can learn to recover from painful, difficult experiences. We can heal from those emotions that once felt like they would break us and ultimately, we can learn to manage and control our fears.
My hope for you is that you become all that you aspire to be, even if what you aspire to be is fearless.
These are absolutely my thoughts…