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A Coaching Session about Fear

by Amy on March 4, 2011

I’d like to share an email exchange between me and one of my clients. I’m sharing this with her full permission and blessing.

I’m sharing it because her feelings are so common, so real, so human. I hear these same thoughts all the time—in my own head and from the mouths of others.

We agreed that most everyone can relate to what she’s going through and she was willing to help me help others by posting this. This is her life—it’s no artificial text-book example—and I’m inspired by her honesty and courage.

She’s in the early stages of starting a business venture. Here’s her email to me:

“Hi Amy,

I am freaking out a little…I am totally overwhelmed about pulling the trigger and starting this business.I am afraid that I don’t know enough and won’t be successful.

Afraid that I will let people down and look foolish.  Afraid that I am biting off more than I can chew.

I have the biggest urge to hide and avoid everything.

I am so scared.  I also am so broke and can’t stop thinking about how I need to have more money.  That too makes me want to crawl under a huge rock.”

You’ve felt this way before, no?  Here’s my response to her:

Okay, stop. Take a deep breath. (Really, do it.)

You are fine. Your mind is moving very quickly telling you lots of lies but they’re not real. It’s just fear and the mind and the ego doing what it does. There is no truth to any of the thoughts you’re thinking. They are only affecting you this much because you’re listening to them and believing them.

You get to choose which thoughts you hone in on and replay over and over. You’re not a victim of a reckless mind; you’re the one in charge. So stop what you’re doing and take a few deep breaths and decide that you’re going to start choosing how you feel.

The only way anyone ever does anything is by taking steps that scare the shit out of them. I’m not lying about this, not even a little bit.

You are at a point right now that every single human being who has ever done anything in life has visited. You can listen to the lies (fears) and choose to do what you want to do anyway, or you can listen to the fears and take them very seriously. You can believe them and be a slave to them and decide that doing what you want is just too scary.

Most people take the second option. They’re the same people who wake up at age 60 or 70 and say, “What the hell did I do with my life?” They’re the same people who are on their death bed at age 90 or 100 saying, “I wish I would have done what I really wanted to do.”

You say: I am totally overwhelmed about pulling the trigger and starting this business.

I say: There is no trigger to pull. That’s a picture your mind created and invented and it’s scaring you away, but it’s a figment of your imagination.  Literally. There is no trigger. There is no MOMENT of starting the business. There’s just the next small step. Then the next, and then the next. You can’t snap your fingers and have a business today; all you can do is talk to the next client, or make your business cards, or whatever the next step is. It’s not as huge and dramatic as you’re making it.

For each of my questions below, write out the answer. You can write them in an email and send it to me or you can write them in your own personal journal. Either way is fine.

I am afraid that I don’t know enough and won’t be successful. What is so bad about trying something new and not being successful?

How would you even know if you were successful or not? You’re the only one defining “success”…how are you defining it?

List three reasons/ways that you know more than enough to take the next small step in the business.

Afraid that I will let people down and look foolish.

Tell me how you might let people down if you DON’T take a chance. At least 3 reasons, but 5 is even better.

Afraid that I am biting off more than I can chew.

Again, this is a scary, made-up visual your mind is creating. There is nothing to bite or to chew. It’s an imaginary picture that you’re choosing to buy into. Change the picture. Imagine smooth sailing or some other visual. You’re the artist here.

And if you’re afraid you’re taking on more than you can handle, take on a little less. When you believe that you have to take huge steps and have perfect success, you end up frozen by fear and doing nothing. Stop the pattern. You know better and you can choose to act differently this time, fear or no fear. Don’t be a slave to the patterns you’ve been replaying. The patterns you picked up from your parents or anyone else. This is YOUR life.

I have the biggest urge to hide and avoid everything.

So what? So did I yesterday when I met a millionaire business man in a hotel for a 6 hour, hard core coaching session. He did a lot of searching for the best coach and he chose me. The thoughts, “He’s paying me too much, I’m not good enough, I’ll let him down, I want to sneak out and go shopping” ran through my mind ALL DAY LONG. But I recognized that they were ego fears and I coached him the best I could for 6 hours straight anyway. And I hope he feels the benefits today, but that’s not my business. I can’t control how he feels and you can’t control “letting people down”. You have to just live your own life and let them have their opinions. 

I am so scared.

I know. It’s normal. It’s okay, even. It’s how you feel but it has zero to do with how you chose to act.

I also am so broke and can’t stop thinking about how I need to have more money.  That too makes me want to crawl under a huge rock.

Yup, it would make anyone want to crawl under a rock. So try to refocus on what you do have. You have a lot. A lot of opportunity. A lot of intelligence. A lot of wisdom, and experience, and personality, and connections. Use those.

I know it’s scary. But scary isn’t ever going to be obsolete no matter how much you learn or how well things go. Scary is par for the course. Doing little things that scare the shit out of you everyday is the only path to success I know.  xo

Related Posts:

When Fear is Good

The Morning Flood

Achieve your goals despite Doubt and Fear

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