by Kim Childs, CPPC
When people ask me what kinds of clients I mostly work with, I don’t have a pat answer because I’ve worked with both men and women, aged 20-something to 70-something. I can, however, identify what unites them: they have believed their doubts and fears to the point of inaction. They come to me to get unstuck, get clear, get out of their own way, and get moving and on track toward the life they’d prefer to be living.
First, however, we need to meet their fears, and disarm them enough to access the magic of action.
I have a healthy respect for fear. It’s hardwired into our brains to keep us alive, and it’s a good thing to trust when it’s warning us of real danger. The problem is when it occupies the driver’s seat so much that everything feels dangerous. In other words, we should trust fear when it’s telling us to pay attention and steer clear of that erratic driver on the right, but challenge fear when it says that only well-tread, familiar, comfortable roads are safe.
The fears my clients and I work to disarm include those about such expressed desires as: changing careers, leaving toxic jobs or relationships, speaking truth, going for creative paths and projects, standing up to bullies, embarking on a dream trip or project, and taking a road less traveled despite protests from loved ones. Unlike the healthy fear that keeps us from entering a dark alley in a dicey neighborhood, these other fears do a disservice by blocking us from trying the very things we truly want to do. They therefore must be challenged.
Here’s the process:
–Take a good sized piece of paper and write a heading that represents the thing your fears are warning you against (e.g. Starting my Own Business)
–Draw a line down the center of the page
–On the left side, list all of your fears about this endeavor, no matter how irrational, juvenile, petty, embarrassing, or ridiculous they may seem. Leave nothing out. Often, it’s a very young part of us that is most afraid. Honor it.
–Once you’ve done that, appreciate your fears for having your back and trying to keep you safe.
–Connect with the wisest and most loving part of yourself. This may mean physically getting up and changing positions or chairs (or rooms) to get a new perspective. You could also place a hand on your chest and try breathing in and out of it for a few moments, to get in touch with the desires and wisdom of your heart.
–In the right column, address each fear from this wisest and most loving part of yourself, asking these three questions:
1) Could that really happen? If the answer is no, as sometimes happens, move to the next fear. If there’s even a slight “Well, maybe…” ask:
2) If so, how could I work to prevent that from happening?
3) If so, how would I handle it? (This latter technique is borrowed from Susan Jeffers’ classic book, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway)
My clients give this process a name that make sense to them, and repeat it as often as needed when blocking fears are identified. Again, blocking fears are the kind that crop up when a heart’s desire is identified, and quickly shoot it down. This exercise usually reveals a next step toward the desire, however small, once the grip of fear has loosened. Which brings me to…the magic of action, as best illustrated by this famous quote from Scottish explorer W. H. Murray:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.”
I can’t tell you how many times I, and my students and clients, have identified a desire, committed to its pursuit, and been met by an amazing coincidence or synchronicity that enables the fulfillment of that desire. Examples include: meeting a stranger who is doing the thing we want to do; discovering a class, group or book on the very subject we’re exploring; receiving unexpected money to fund that new project; finding the dream job; or receiving the next piece of a creative project while doing something seemingly unrelated. I have countless examples of this in my own life, and a powerful dream that backs it up.
And sometimes it really does feel like magic. I like to say that the Universe’s hands are tied until we take action. Then, it sometimes practically falls over itself trying to help.
The other thing about action is that it’s energizing and motivating. It’s also informative, even – and especially – when we fail on the way to success. And it puts us in contact with the people, places and things that could further the realization of our desires, unlike, say, sitting on the couch with a remote in hand and lots of wishes in our head.
What is one thing you’ve been wanting to do but afraid to try? Once you’ve calmed your fears about it with reason and contingency plans, as outlined above, identify an action and take it.
Invite the magic, see what happens, and report back to me. Okay?
Kim Childs is a Boston-area certified life and career coach specializing in Positive Psychology, creativity, soulful living and midlife transitions. Click here to learn more and schedule a free initial consultation in person or via phone or video chat.