Fear is a debilitating feeling that cripples us all in some capacity. Fear keeps us from enjoying life to the fullest and holds us hostage. I read an article recently that described how fear can be broken down to inadequacy and consequently leads to feelings of rejection. I haven’t met anyone in my life that has not felt a form of inadequacy about something and I certainly have felt inadequate at times.
I recently left a really horrific boss. Notice, I didn’t say job. I loved my position, tenure within the company, co-workers, etc. This boss was the worst I have ever had in my entire life. She had a debilitating way of making me feel reduced like I was not worthy of existing in the world. I’m sure that wasn’t her actual intent but she definitely did not value anything that existed outside her self-proclaimed perfectionist mind-set. Looking back at the situation and considering her extreme negative energy, the unrealistic standards she set and her unfair judgment on me, made me realize that I actually was doomed for failure from the start. This statement seems like admitting a weakness. I definitely felt fear, anxiety, inadequacy and ultimately rejected and not valuable. However, looking back, I feel more like a victor rather than a failure and realize that my choices in the moment (leaving the boss) were valid given the circumstances! Feeling and facing such anxiety and fear has strengthened my confidence and character as a whole. I have learned that I will never let someone else’s insecurities affect my confidence and ability to believe in myself again! My fear turned to courage the minute I decided to take back my life and confidence by not subjecting myself to her abuse any longer. It was a huge step forward for me, HUGE!
There’s something informative and empowering in learning that fearing judgment for the sake of our imperfections is not something we should fear at all — as it does not define who we are. Since fear and imperfections is something we all have in common, we should learn to embrace what we fear most and accept that our vulnerabilities can lead us to a greater sense of meaning in our lives and a deeper connection with ourselves.
Knowing we are all imperfect helps us learn to break down our ego and become more humble, which helps us appreciate ourselves more (as well as others) and forgive more easily. The bravest choice is to do what we really want to do in life, regardless of who might see and form opinions. It might not always feel comfortable to risk being seen as inadequate but the alternative is to risk not feeling fully alive in our life.
Here are five ways that helped me step through my fear and embrace my life more freely:
1. Accept Fear
Just like the famous quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt suggests — “The only thing we have to fear is, fear itself!” When we stop fighting the fear and accept that it exists, we can begin to embrace it by facing it! Accepting your fear(s) can become a comfort if you allow your mind permission to think that your fear(s) are created just for you and your greatest good! Imagine that?
2. Understand Your Fear
The next step is to understand your fears at a deeper and more profound level. Travel back in time to try gaining a foundation on how your fears came about. Understanding and determining the origin of your fears will give you certainty and empower you giving you the reason it may exist. Sometimes the fear may exist for no apparent reason but that is equally valid. Ask yourself: Why does this fear have a hold over me?
3. Put the Worst Case Scenario in Perspective
This is self-explanatory! Think about it! What is there really to be afraid of? Other than a snake pit like in the movie Indiana Jones? Hehe…I just wanted to get you thinking…gotcha! If you have accepted that your fear exists, now what could the worst case scenario be if you faced it? Remember, we tend to tell ourselves the worst stories to justify our thinking! Once you do this, now consider the best case scenario that could also happen? Remember that the fear exists for your benefit, it is there to help you grow. It’s a risk on what the outcome may ultimately be but isn’t it worth the gamble to find out once you try? Ok, I don’t suggest jumping in a snake pit just to see if you would get bit! Haha, had to add a bit of humor here!:)
4. Consider the Alternative
If you stay living in fear, consider how this will greatly impact your overall life? If you choose to avoid facing a fear (such as my boss example above), how would that affect your life even more? In my case, staying in that position and working for a boss that devalued me, cutting me down at every turn would eventually affect more than just my emotional and mental state of mind, it could have affected my overall health and well-being. What value would there have been in staying in that job under those circumstances? Consider transforming your perspective about your fear(s). What value is there in not facing your fear(s)?
5. Take Baby Steps
Fears are usually overwhelming, emotional experiences and require our patience. We tend to perceive them as extraordinary, significant and overpowering and in control of our lives. Begin with tiny steps. Do something each day that progresses you further toward overcoming the fear. Just like a mountain, you must first climb up (the hardest part) before coming back down. Whatever that thing is that makes you afraid, it’s inviting you to conquer it! So why not?