Act, Empower

F.E.A.R. of Flying

Lately, I have been experiencing these fleeting moments of clarity that provide me with a sense of peace about moving towards one of my dreams—on the one hand—only to be overwhelmed by feelings of trepidation. I run to the precipice filled with excitement about creating a new life and just as I am about to fling myself into the abyss, I stop dead in my tracks and start running back to that old familiar place. And quite frankly, I don’t want to hang out there anymore.

How many times in your own life have you stopped yourself from pursuing one of your dreams? Did you tell yourself it was because you didn’t have the money, connections or experience to have those things you’ve envisioned?  The more excuses we come up with, the longer the list becomes on why it’s not possible to fulfill our dreams, so we abandon them and opt to zone out watching Netflix instead.  The fear of flying has a tight grip around our neck, so we never attempt to find out what we are actually capable of.

The struggle to overcome fear, or rather learning how to act despite the presence of fear, is very real and sometimes difficult to recognize. For example, sometimes my fear shows up as common sense and under the guise of being “responsible” by making statements such as the following:  Think about how hard you have worked to get where you are now; are you sure you want to throw all of that away to take a chance on an unknown? What if you lose everything?  You are an adult now, so it’s best to stick with the path that has been working rather than taking a risk on something new. Is it just me who noticed how convincing the last statement appears by pleading with me to do the “mature” thing?  I realize now I have been caught up in keeping up appearances of being a responsible adult at the expense of venturing out to pursue another one of my dreams.

How many times have you stayed in situations you have outgrown because you tell yourself it’s better to stick with the tried and true and remain safe?  But isn’t that the real illusion? We lie to ourselves about being safe where we are instead of realizing we are trading expansion and happiness for misery, bitterness, and regret over the road not traveled as the years go by. We are here to expand in order to reach our full potential, but that cannot happen if we are not willing to take a chance on ourselves over and over again

 

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FACING THE UNKNOWN

The first step to move through the fear is the awareness to call it by its true name: False Evidence Appearing Real. It is not a “sign” that you should not move towards your dreams or other desires (as long as it’s good for you and doesn’t harm others in the process) because you have doubts. Everyone has doubts and anytime time you think about trying something new, fear will make an appearance.  The trick is to not allow yourself to get so overwhelmed with visions of disaster that you don’t act at all. Instead, focus on the next step you can take right now.  That is how you start to train yourself to move through the fear rather than become paralyzed by it.

Another thing I find very helpful is to learn how to give yourself permission to be a beginner. This can be tough, especially if you find yourself in a situation where you have years of experience and therefore a sense of mastery. Being a beginner requires a willingness to be exposed and out of your element. There is a learning curve, so treat yourself with respect by accepting you may do something very badly in the beginning. Another way to respect yourself is to take baby steps towards your desires and praise yourself for the small accomplishments. The encouragement works wonders and gives you the motivation to take another step tomorrow. Do not overwhelm yourself by focusing on perfection! Remember, you are a beginner so act like it!

Finally, become aware of how your fears cause you to act in self-destructive ways so you can control your environment.  What are your go-to avoidance patterns? Do you suddenly “need” to get on social media and waste three hours instead of applying for that new dream job that excites you?  How about blocking your social media accounts at set times and focusing on taking a  step towards your desires?  If you suddenly find yourself feeling compelled to do the “responsible” thing like clean your house or call your mother back, why not head over to the library to start writing your book for just one hour right now? You can clean up when you get back and don’t bring your phone with you!

I would love to hear some other suggestions from you on how to move through the fears of flying.

Empower

Inner, The Critical Zone

Who is your worst enemy? Do you actually believe this person resides outside of you? Have you forgot about the inner voice that loves nothing more than to sabotage your efforts by providing an endless stream of criticism and off-the-cuff remarks about your worthiness? Oh, you still don’t know what I am talking about? You know, that annoying voice of your parent or some other authority figure that lives inside of you and loves pointing out all of your past failures, apparent short-comings, and therefore your general unworthiness of receiving anything good in your life until you fix all of the things that are wrong with you. Yeah, that voice.  Welcome to land of fear that shows up as false beliefs. This is the home of your inner-critic and we all have one.

It seems that a distinguishing trait of the inner critic is to focus on some form of fear, and it repeats the same narrative over and over again. My critic has many lines it tries to force-feed me, but its favorite attack line is: you can’t have what you really want. You must settle like everyone else! Where did I pick this false belief? Maybe my mother who was projecting her fears about life onto me when I was kid. I am not sure, but the point is, I accepted this and many other false beliefs as true. At times, I felt ambivalent about going after what I really wanted and I missed out on some opportunities in my life, because I allowed myself to be held back by the constant chatter of the enemy within. I didn’t think about where my negative beliefs came from or discerning if the statements were actually true.  I just let the narrative play over and over again in my head unchecked.

The Way Out

One of the most effective ways I have found to silence the voice of my inner critic is to question if there is any truth to what it is saying to me. I find it helpful to think of experiences I have had in the past that contradict what it is telling me.  For example, I have had many experiences in my life where I did get exactly what I wanted even though my inner critic loves to tell me this is not a possibility for me. I can shut her down with “the facts”, but on occasion she will resurface again to evoke fear and doubt about what I am capable of doing, especially when attempting something new. In those moments I remind myself of past journeys I have taken into the unknown that turned out well.

And if all of the above fails, I repeat particular affirmations to myself like the following: I am worthy, I am capable, and I am enough. I have found them to be effective in directing my thoughts to creating new possibilities for my life in a space of love rather than fear. Remember, the critic cannot live in a space of expansion and possibility because it is all about constriction, lack, and general fear of the unknown. If you find your inner critic invading your thoughts, see if you can’t silence him or her down by using one of the above techniques.