Make Fear Your Friend

Fear can often be a feeling that overwhelms us, or causes us to withdraw, or causes us to become defensive.

What if fear, instead, were a friend. Not a best friend, of course, and not someone you purposefully invite to join you at every appointment of your day. But, what if we framed fear as someone who shows up on occasion—even if unexpected, uninvited, or unwelcome—to offer us a message of insight.

What if you make fear your “friend.” Someone who is there simply to offer information. A piece of data. A clue about how to move forward. In this way, fear can have the ability to protect you, guide you, and be your ally.

Try it yourself. Name a fear you currently have. Next, have some light conversation with the fear. For example:

You: “What are you trying to protect me from?”

Fear: “Failing.”

You: “What strategy would minimize the risk of failure?”

Fear: “Just don’t do anything. That’s safest.”

You: “Thanks for showing up. I will find a more creative, proactive strategy. Bye.”

Or, your conversation might unfold differently, such as:

You: “What are you trying to protect me from?”

Fear: “Failing.”

You: “What strategy would minimize the risk of failure?”

Fear: “You’re not speaking your truth. Say what you need to say. What do you really want to say?”

You: “I want to tell my boss that if I take on another project, I’m afraid the other things I’m working on will suffer.”

Fear: “Take the word ‘afraid’ out and try it again.”

You: “I want to tell my boss that if I take on another project, the other projects will suffer.”

Fear: “Now make it about the bigger picture, instead of about you.”

You: “I want to tell my boss that these projects deserve focused attention to ensure success; taking time from one will slow down progress on the existing projects, and so let’s collaborate on which priorities would give the company the best returns.”

Next time you notice fear—worry, concerns, foreboding, anxious thoughts—try this. First, breathe! Then, give fear a bit of space to be heard, to inform you, to bring clarity about what you really want. Play with questions, such as:

  • “What are you trying to protect me from?”
  • “How would you guide me through this?”
  • “What might you suggest that would prevent this from happening again?”
  • “What new or (tried-and-true) strategy would move me forward?”

Enjoy!

 

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