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6 Practices to Overcome Your Fears of Playing Bigger

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.

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Comments

  1. Kat says:

    Hi Tara, a really helpful blog post! SO many of the Women in my networks definitely come up with confidence issues with their blogs and a lot with video too! Just checked out your website and free worksheets they look great too!

    thanks for this post – I know a lot of people will find it helpful!!
    x Kat

  2. Samuel says:

    We all have our fears and this journey of blogging helps overcome the fears in the way.

    Many times we will have to stand up for ourselves and face it straight into the face of it.

    It is not easy but with time, it will be.

    Thanks for the article!

  3. Dean Saliba says:

    The two stumbling blocks for me are my bouts of lack of motivation and the fact that I don’t think I’m good enough to be making a living from writing. I think the doubting my ability is something I can overcome but the bouts of lack of motivation are proving more problematic. :)

    • Tara Wagner says:

      I look at things like lack of motivation or resistance as “symptoms”…things that happen as a result of what’s happening within us at the time. Namely, fear. You could DIG IN to that as readily as you could DIG IN to fears of not being good enough. Try looking for a “why” for the lack of motivation for something you clearly want and see what comes up. Best wishes. :)

  4. Neha Sharma says:

    When we are in trouble we have to walk alone….no body comes to our rescue….in some cases people dont even say in formality that do you need a help…but when that bad time ends you are a hero not only in the eyes of the world but also in yours..

  5. hey ,

    excellent post. This is what i have been thinking that if you want to get some thing bigger in your life then you have to play big. You have to take risk to get some thing in your life. :)

    Thank you

  6. Shorya Bist says:

    Hi Tara,

    Thanks for sharing some tips on overcoming of our fears,

    When you set your mind to achieve big, in some part of your mind a thought come of Failure and what people will say about that it is common everybody.In this situation there are two kind of thing a person can do.

    1.Who are over shadowed by this thought.
    2.Who smash this thought with making himself/herself more and more positive & stronger.

    I am second kind of person, i never let my self down. I believe that biggest support for you is yourself and no body can replace that.So be Brave enough to Handle all your fears.

    And your points are appropriate to overcoming the fears.

    Thank You
    Shorya Bist
    From Youthofest

  7. Christiano says:

    Hi Tara,
    I agree. It gets lonely when you work alone. Having a support group or just a friend for my case helps to overcome not only fear but resistance. Even after you join a bigger playing circle, you still have to deal with resistance every day.

  8. Big Pauly says:

    Interesting ideas about fear and support, and how they go hand and hand…

  9. I have to say, Tara, the first one hits me the hardest. It’s so true.

    Prior to blogging for my company, it was very hard for anyone to actually get me to blog. I was one of those who really didn’t see the value in a blog. I think it’s mainly due to the fact that I wasn’t writing about something I could monetize and be passionate about. Heck, I was blogging about Manuka honey bees from New Zealand for a while. That was hard stuff to describe.

    Since those days, I have been managing a pretty good blog for about 6 months now. I try to keep it updated at least three times a week. I love blogging for my business because it’s something I have a lot of passion for and it’s of value to the business. Plus, I love being involved in this community where the content can be extended into context.

    Cheers!

  10. Lenny says:

    Such a great article. I never comment on this site but I had to thank you for writing this. I’ve done similar exercises with my therapist but this will help me to continue to work on myself when she is not around. Thanks again!

  11. Daniel says:

    Very insightful and helpful post, Tara..

    I think everyone has their own “personal roadblocks” to overcome, and the longer we put off facing them, things can begin to snowball…

    Often it’s to do with our state of mind, at any given time, and especially when about to make important(to us) “big steps” that we have placed a lot of expectations on…

  12. Anna says:

    wow, this post speaks to me! just starting blogging for my design business and no one around me seems to know what that is! any suggestions on websites for connecting with other bloggers? thanks. anna

  13. Lola says:

    A very good read Tara.
    Building up self-confidence can help overcome doubt and fear. I agree with Tara that one way to overcome fear is to surround oneself with other bloggers and people with like minds.
    In addition, reading many success stories will help you to see that everyone has something that send them to the scary land of fear, but it depends on your ability to overcome your fears.
    Dare to doubt your fear and dare to believe in yourself.

  14. Ali Davies says:

    Totally with you on the dislike of the “push through fear” thing. I also feel the same about the whole “become fearless” campaign. It is so unrealsitic and leads people down the wrong path. Fear is a normal part of being a human being. It is how we deal with it that is important, as your points highlight

  15. Beth says:

    I can definitely apply this message to my business…it’s easy to keep playing it small! Also as someone who works in human services I can definitely attest to humans’ tendency to want to avoid risk, even if the greater risk is in not trying!!

  16. Anirudh says:

    Totally Agree with you Darren !