The Bible says “…perfect love casts out all fear.” I’ve quoted this verse to myself at times in the past to give myself a little “pep talk” for how to move beyond fear but, if I’m honest, I can’t say it’s had much of a lasting effect. And while I believe these ancient words to be true, reality is that, for me at least, I hold this much more of an ideal than as something to be attained in this life. So in the meantime, I’m stuck looking for a more practical antidote for fear.
In recent coaching sessions, I have found it almost humorous at the frequency at which the coachee, with my help, uncovered fear as what was blocking progress. In my experience, the two primary emotions which create the biggest obstacles for people, and keep them “stuck” in life, are anger and fear.
Anger and fear
Angry people tend to blame others for things that go wrong, so there is a lack of personal responsibility for moving forward in life. The fact that someone else is always to blame is a very convenient excuse for lack for results. Fear, on the other hand, either confuses one’s thinking with an endless list of “what if’s”, or simply freezes action for fear of failure. Either way, the result is the same – no progress and the person is stuck, and most of the time he or she is completely unaware of the fear.
A client asked me recently for help in taking his business to the next level in terms of sales. He knew a key next step was activating e-commerce on his website, but to date this had not happened because of problems with the site developer, who had turned out to be incompetent. When I asked about why he had not started to look for a new developer, he came up with a host of reasons why more time was needed to see if the developer could actually do the job (even though he knew he couldn’t). Also, there was a worry that if he were to ask for his money back that it might jeopardize his ability to salvage any of the work done to date. Stuck.
It didn’t take long to dig past the excuses to find what was really going on – fear. Fear of making the same mistake again, i.e., fear of failure. No results so far, but now fear was preventing any results from actually taking place. Once the fear was acknowledged, which in his case was made possible through our coaching conversation, he was able to apply the only practical antidote to fear – being afraid, but doing it anyway.
The only way out is through
The only way out of fear is through it, which is what he then consciously decided to do. He set a date (the next day) when he would formally ask the developer for his money back, and identified a person he could ask for a trusted referral to find a new developer. The simple acknowledgement of the fear, followed by a simple first step of action to move through it was all that was needed to get unstuck.
In my life, fear is generally my biggest roadblock on the path to success and it’s a daily process to identify and then consciously move through fears, be they big or small. Psychologists say that up to 95% of how we act in life is unconscious. Unconscious fears, I believe, all too often hold us back and keep us from being ourselves and getting what we want.
Look at something in your life you want to either achieve, be or get, and then ask yourself what fear is in the way. Acknowledge it, and then decide what action you will take to get unstuck.