Highway To The Danger Zone! (Or is that Awareness?)
Every time I am afraid it feels like there is an immediate threat to my safety. My heart pounds, my chest tightens, my vision becomes narrow; I am ready to move!
This is great when there is a real imminent physical threat, but not so good when I am about to give a talk or coach a group. So, why can’t my body distinguish between the two?
Well, it can; I just don’t always notice the difference.
I have found that it is useful to think of there being only 2 types of fear:
1. Danger 2. Awareness
Danger fear does it’s job perfectly; when I am walking down that dark alley at 3am it shouts at me and says “What the **** are you doing? Get the hell out of here now you idiot!!!!”. It is a pretty powerful feeling and requires immediate action. Without it, I would be pretty screwed.
Awareness fear is everything else; it is when I am speaking to a large group of people, coaching a small group; climbing sand stone rock in Kent. It speaks to me and says “This is new, are you suuurre you want to do this?” “What if you fail?” “You haven’t prepared enough” “You don’t have enough experience”; it says many things. My body still feels like I am being gripped by the danger fear, but the messages I am getting from it are more complex; there is so much more going on and above all else it is getting me to pay attention.
Each one of those thoughts is important; each one is giving me information to help me, to guide me, to make sure I know what I am doing.
It may not feel like it at the time but, fear is such a gift.
In the week leading up to my last talk I was gripped by fear; my heart felt like there was a vice squeezing it. My head felt like it was being crushed; it felt really horrible and I couldn’t stand it! I wanted it to go away.
I have been leaning into my fears for a long time and I know that I can deliver value in whatever I am doing; it won’t be perfect, but it will be impactful to someone; I make sure of it. Yet, I was still gripped by this painful fear.
I told my coach about it, explained what was happening, what it felt like, I told him of my frustration; and that was the light bulb going on!
Fear is so natural; it comes in; gives me it’s message so I can act and then leaves, but I was interrupting that process; I didn’t want to feel the fear any more and was frustrated by it and so I was trapping it inside. The fear wanted to flow but my frustration was fighting it and capping it; it was this capping that caused my pain; just like putting my finger inside a bottle of champagne and then shaking it; it was bursting to get out but my finger stopped it and the pressure built up.
When I realised what I was doing and I accepted the fear as part of an ongoing process that could take many years, in that moment the frustration evaporated, I pulled my finger out of the bottle and the champagne flowed out and then settled. I felt really good.
When your fear comes up, it is useful to write down what it is telling you. It is a form of intuition and is very wise. Heed it’s words of warning and you will reap the rewards.
Don’t just keep the thoughts spinning in your head, or else they can spiral and they get confused.
Get them out and see what words of wisdom they have for you.
As I am writing this, I have another talk coming up in 2 weeks at VegFestUK at London Olympia (http://london.vegfest.co.uk/
Everything it is telling me is information I need to hear to help me be at my best; to do better. I won’t let that go to waste.
What is your fear really telling you?
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