This guest post is by Tara Wagner of TheOrganicSister.com.
Playing bigger. Putting yourself out there. What others will think? Not being good enough.
Most bloggers have had to face those fears at same point. Dreams and goals tend to bring up our ugly stories after all.
Being a life coach who works primarily with women looking to overcome fears, blocks, beliefs, and barriers is what I do. So of course I have an opinion on why it is our fears come up one step behind our dreams.
Because they need to.
They need to seen, heard, and dealt with. They need to be examined and released. Life will hear our desire to step up to the plate as a desire to step away from the dugout. “You want to play bigger? Good! Here’s the first thing you get to examine and let go of in order to do so.”
Our fear is not meant to be our saboteur. It’s just an emotion we’ve attached to the thoughts that go swirling through our head on overtime we go to hit that Publish button, or send out a tweet.
Digging deep to overcome that fear can be both a long, mindful process, or as fast and life-changing as a simple Aha! moment that forever changes the lens through which we see the world.
But if a client were to ask me which steps they most likely needed to take, here’s what I would say.
1. Surround yourself with the right systems of support
A big reason so many of us get freaked out at the perspective of blogging is because it’s new and probably mostly unheard of in our intimate circles.
Now I’m not knocking those intimate circles. We need those like we need water. But they serve a purpose of their own, and encouraging you to do something big and in a completely new arena is not likely the role they need to serve in your life.
By surrounding yourself with other bloggers (local meetups, online groups, tele-conferences circles with accountability partners), you’ll find more encouragement to match your fear and what looks a little crazy from the outside will begin to look natural and “what-was-there-to-be-afraid-of-again?”.
Get a coach, get a group, get a friend. Get support.
2. Don’t “push through fear.” Process through it
I loathe when I hear that term. It’s not that it’s always a big thing. I pushed through fear when I went cliff jumping. But this whole “Fear of Playing Bigger” thing isn’t over as soon as you hit the water.
Pushing through fear is like pushing a car through your first marathon. Exhausting, distracting, ridiculous. Stop pushing through it. Stop and address the damn car, so you can get on without it. Yes, it might come up again, but if you keep giving it the space to be heard and the space to process through the fear, you give it the space to heal.
How do you process through it?
Here are a few beginning tips.
3. Know what it is you’re really afraid of
It’s not “playing bigger” that you’re actually afraid of. It’s what “playing bigger” will mean: what you fear will happen, what you think someone might say or do, who you think that someone might be, and what all that might mean?
Right here I’m talking about our deepest core beliefs or fears—the stories we tell ourselves about Who We (or others) Are and what we’re capable of. The stories that keep us playing small in order to play it safe.
The best way to find your deepest core fear is to start with the scenario that’s freaking you out, and question it. Ask yourself why you’re really afraid of it, what you’re afraid might happen, and what that says or means.
This can take some time, and sometimes even support, so go back to #1 if you need to. But keep processing through it, because until you understand what your fear is really trying to save you from, you won’t be able to overcome it.
4. Test the validity of your fear
This is one exercise from my ebook, Digging Deep, on overcoming our barriers and fears by testing their validity. It doesn’t work in all scenarios, but it’s a powerful one to try. Why? Because nothing rewrites fear in the mind like experience to the contrary.
You’ll need to start out by knowing what you’re really afraid of (see #3), then you’ll need to create a scenario that tests it.
For instance, maybe you find you’re really afraid of ridicule from friends. One way to test that fear is to openly and authentically share your concerns and ask for feedback from those friends.
Or if you’re afraid of looking stupid, maybe you can purposefully go out and do something that makes you look ridiculous (think: giant rooster costume) and realize that the world neither crashes down around you, nor do most people even notice.
This isn’t about being rational. Because your fear likely isn’t very rational. This is about speaking to that irrational brain of yours, in terms it can understand: hard-core experiences to the contrary.
5. See those fears (or feedback) with compassion
This one is a hard practice, and I’m not gonna tell you it’s always one to practice. There are times when we don’t need to see the other side; times when we need to ignore the other side because it’s bi-polar and toxic and it’s probably a better bet to change our phone number than to try to empathize. (I’m talking about people who might not support you, but I’m also talking about those bipolar and toxic thoughts of yours too.)
Seeing the other side is about looking with empathy at what’s happening and trying to understand with compassion how it came to be this way, and the deeper needs that are trying to be heard and validated.
For example, a fear of “not being good enough” might be just an attempt to receive acceptance, something that we all need and deserve. Or for another example, the recent criticism of a parent for your career choice might actually be a need to know you will be secure.
I recommend this practice because it can be easy to get washed up in the fear, the drama, the criticism, the he-said/she-said, the messy stories and can we just say drama again? It’s easy to lose sight of what’s really happening beneath the crazy of what we’re thinking, saying, or doing.
But any time we drop beneath that, our path becomes clearer. Pretty soon we’re not wracked with self-doubt because our best friend said she didn’t think we could hack it; we have empathy for the fear or the hurt or the self-consciousness she may be experiencing.
Remember, seeing the other side is not about psycho-analyzing the other person, or even yourself. It’s about looking for love, with love. It’s about seeking understanding, instead of stoking the inferno of self-doubt.
6. Say what you need to say
This is a modified version of an exercise in Digging Deep, to help you have that conversation you’ve been needing to have in order to finally lay to bed the fear you’ve been experiencing.
This might be a letter to a hurtful loved one, to your younger self, or even to your own fear. Imagine yourself having a peaceful but firm conversation.
This likely also means you’ll need to see those fears (or the fears of someone else, perhaps) as in the last step. Send gratitude for the the good intentions of your fear, or the attempt to care for you from a loved one, then describe how it is that you’re okay, capable, ready for this.
You may give the fear your proof in the form of what you’ve been able to do, or how you’ll handle anything that comes up. You may even answer that nagging question of “Who the hell am I?” with an answer that starts something like, “I’ll tell you who I am…”
Take your time with this. Each time I’ve done this I’ve essentially had a four- or five-page “conversation” with my fear, letting it say everything it needed to say and calmly answering it with clear and confident choices. It sounds slightly ridiculous until you really let yourself fall into the exercise. Then you experience that weight lift off your shoulders.
Again, in all these exercises you’re looking to create mindfulness and understanding through acknowledgment and compassion.
Because understanding creates clarity in your choices or next steps, and clarity creates confidence. And confidence creates a wildly authentic, wildly unique, wildly successful blogger.
Tara Wagner offers lots more tools for overcoming self-doubt, fear, and other barriers to creating your own unconventional, authentic, and thriving lifestyle. You can find her and signup for her free e-course/toolkit to start thriving in your life and family (without the fear) at TheOrganicSister.com.