The Feeling You're Afraid to Feel is Running Your
Fight or Flight – you’ve certainly experienced it. Your heart rate and
blood pressure elevate. Several hormones are then released into
the bloodstream – the most significant being epinephrine or
adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones temporarily boost your
ability to focus, remember and react spontaneously. But once the
intensity reaches a certain level these drop off and concentration,
mood and flexibility are compromised.
Many people say they work well under pressure – for a while. They
are on the adrenaline rush. Research supports, however, that
prolonged exposure to stress results in a decline in physical,
cognitive and affective wellbeing. And then it gets ugly.
Recently I had the privilege to spend some time with Author and
Coach Rhonda Britten of Fearless Living and the former national
television program “Starting Over.” She profoundly stressed
something that I believe is the root of much unhappiness, anxiety
and tension in the world, “The feeling you are afraid to feel is running
Think about it. When you react badly it is generally when you feel
pressured, threatened, stressed, overwhelmed, unhappy, frustrated,
depressed, etc. All of these are avoidance symptoms. They are what
bubbles up within you when you are protecting yourself from
something that is a part of you which you don’t want to confront. In
the face of stress, you may find that you overreact, lash out, cry, are
overly defensive, act irresponsibly, withdraw, ignore or any other of
the avoidance behaviors. When the dust settles you feel shamed
and beat yourself up with “Why did I do that? I know better than that.”
Unfortunately reacting rashly when stressed inhibits your
effectiveness in work, love and family relationships, friendships, and
social encounters. Thus you become less respected, effective,
understood, revered and content.
So how do you fix it? There are many effective methods to reduce
stress – more than I can list here. But they are only a band aid over
the bigger issue – what are you really afraid of? You can’t let go of
something that you haven’t defined.
There are a number of articles on my web site on fear at www.
startingovernow.com. Don Miguel Ruiz's book The Four Agreement
holds two Agreements that I think are the biggest reasons we end up
feeling anxious and afraid. He wisely advises us: “Don’t take
anything personally,” and “Don’t make assumptions.” Our life
experience has led us to internalize our own and other people’s
perceptions of us which leads to negative head trash like, “They’ll
think I can’t do it.” I’ll end up alone.” “I never get a break.” “He doesn’
t really care about me.”
In order to eliminate the head trash you must learn not to eliminate
your fears – that is impossible – but to co-exist with them.
Uncover Your Fear
1. Pay attention to your reactions. When do you react badly? Is it
when you feel someone is challenging your performance? Is it when
your loved one makes plans without you? Is it when someone
challenges your perspective? Is it when someone is behaving
hypocritically? If you are not sure keep a list and write down when
this has happened and exactly how you felt at the moment you
started behaving outside of your authentic self.
2. Imagine yourself right smack dab in the middle of that critical
moment when you lost it. Just before you said or did that thing that
you regret, totally immerse yourself in the situation – all of the
negativity, judgment, insensitivity, assault language, feelings of
abandonment, your own insecurity, and anxiousness. Now flash
freeze everyone and everything in place. Nothing and no one is
moving, breathing or talking. The silence is deafening. You are the
only one freely moving, inhaling and exhaling, and thinking at this
3. What is your fear saying to you? At that moment the only sound
you can hear is fear. It is trying to protect you, however negative it is
– what is it trying to protect you from? This is not yet your true fear.
But listen to what it is saying.
4. Ask yourself if the answer to #3 comes true, “What will happen
then?” What will happen in the worst case scenario if what you
thought you feared came true? Keep asking the question, "What will
happen then until there are no more answers. This is what you are
truly afraid of. This is where you feel devalued and threatened. This
is what send you over the edge outside of yourself.
Release Your Fear
5. Clear the Chaos. Now imagine that all of the negative energy in
the room as well as your fear is like a shower curtain around you –
all of the feelings of rejection, abandonment, judgment, inadequacy
etc. Gently reach up and move that shower curtain aside and along
with it all of that negative energy.
6. What do you think the people left in the room fear? Look at the
people before you. They are behaving as a result of a feeling. What
is that feeling? What could their fears be?
7. How can you serve them better? Focus on their needs instead
of yours. This will take the anxiety out of the situation and give you a
purpose that is not in reaction to your own fear but in service to the
fear of others. You’ll feel valued. Not devalued.
8. What percentage chance does your true fear have of coming
true? It will be a low number since your fear is a perception and not
based in truth. Post this number with the percent sign next to it
where you can see it every day. Look at it and realize that what you
fear has only that chance of occurring.
Now that you understand what you are truly afraid of, live with it.
Understand that it is not your authentic self but a voice outside of
yourself trying to protect you. Woosh it aside like the shower curtain
when you notice it and assure it, “I can handle it.” Start now.
Get Mary Lee's FREE e-book "Grow Productivity - A Leader's Toolbox."
Sign up for Mary Lee’s Free Coaching e-newsletter. Email this link
to a friend.
Get Mary Lee’s tips on Kick Out Head Trash - Bring in Positive
Affirmations and other free resources at Articles and Tip Sheets.
Mary Lee Gannon is the president of StartingOverNow.com -
Transforming People and Organizations with a Goals-to-Results
Strategy. With more than 16 years of experience as a CEO of
organizations with up to $26 million in assets, Mary Lee consults with
businesses on strategy. She is a graduate of The Duquesne
University Professional Coaching Program and an alumnus of the
2010 Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital Coaching in
Medicine & Leadership Conference. Her personal turnaround came
as a stay-at-home mother with four children under seven-years-old
who endured a divorce that took she and the children from the
country club life to public assistance from where she earned success
to support her family. Services: Management Consulting /
Workshops, Meeting Facilitation, Coaching, Webinars, and
Speaking. Areas of Specialty: Strategic Planning / Board
Development / Healthcare / Public Relations / Goal Setting / Meeting
Facilitation / Accountability / Leadership / Time Management /
Life/Career Transition. Her book "Starting Over - 25 Rules for When
You've Bottomed Out" is available in bookstores and from online
booksellers. Sign up for Mary Lee’s Free Executive Coaching e-
Mary Lee Gannon's
Book "Starting Over" is
available in bookstores
or online booksellers
Amazon.com - 5 Stars!
|I want to learn more about
The Starting Over Now System.
StartingOverNow.com * info@StartingOverNow.com * www.StartingOverNow.com * 412-874-3918
|The Six Step Starting Over Now
Video to Change Your Life!
|Mary Lee Gannon, CAE
From welfare to
16 years as CEO of
organizations with up
to $26 million in assets.
Transforming people and organizations with a "Goals - Accountability - Results" system.
|"Grow Productivity - A
Leader's Toolbox" and
the Executive Coaching