Fear of fear

This is the first of my posts in the Red Carpet series. Today, I talk about our fear of fear.

So, why the Red Carpet? I'll explain more as you read on ........

Far worse than fear, is the fear of fear.

When I say this, I refer to the awful feelings that can come over us in waves when we are about to do something that we fear doing. It's a secondary feeling to the fear itself.

The feelings that we experience as we prepare to do something new or different for the first time, are often the ones that we fear the most.

Because they can engulf us. Fear of fear is also a very well practised thought process. In fact, it is so well practised, that the same process will roll itself out irrespective of what it is that we are actually trying to do. And the pattern that we go through can leave us feeling fraught. It can bring about feelings of procrastination, indecision, insecurity and anxiety.

If we really think about it, it could be true to say that our anxiety can sometimes become a comfy pair of shoes. We reach for it when we feel afraid. It is sometimes our automatic response to step into anxiety, because it brings feelings that are familiar to us. We don't like the feelings. But there is discomfort, as well as comfort, in the familiar.

And the period of time that leads up to us moving out of our comfort zone can bring a lot of discomfort and frustration.

The fear of the fear becomes our block. Sometimes we start fearing the fear way before we are actually going to take action. And the longer we have to ruminate, the more our thinking can take on a life of its own.

Other fears start to get involved too and if we are not careful, before we know it, we have got ourselves a great big fear party. Fears love to gatecrash. Give them an inch and they will take a mile.

At the same time, we will undoubtedly judge ourselves in the harsh way that we do, and beat ourselves up for :

1) not being able to do something that others appear to do with ease and;

2) for spending ages procrastinating.

But it is here that we are able to start to help ourselves. Because if we intercept and notice our thoughts as they are happening, it's a really good way of interrupting their process.

You will hear me say the following often and there is very good reason for that!

"Once we bring our thoughts into our conscious minds, they start to lose their power over us".

It is really useful to write these thoughts down as they arise. By doing so, we can then start to challenge them and understand more about the fears that we are holding. We can choose whether the fear is still relevant to us or whether it is based on historic information or something that happened in our past. Quite often the fears have no relevance to what we are about to do. But they tend to show up anyway. Just in case.

The purpose of fear is to protect us. But the associated thoughts that come as part of how we are feeling, will (if we let them), try to assist us to predict outcomes that aren't based on fact.

I am happy to use myself as an example here because I go through the same process when I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone. It may be that I am doing something for the first time or that I am revisiting something that has become a fear for me.

It may be that what I am about to do, triggers a limiting belief that I have carried around from many moons ago. From when something humiliating happened to me, or I may have been shamed for something I did. Perhaps, I have failed at something and was ridiculed at the time.

This happens to all of us. And, we must remember that failure hasn't always been something that is celebrated. We may also have experienced a situation where, to fail, meant that it was the end of that particular road. That belief, left unchecked, can become bigger than itself. Because if we leave these thoughts to roam free, they may push us towards a fixed mindset. Where we can become practised at limiting ourselves without even realising.

And as we all know, embracing our vulnerabilities and short comings is painful. It can make us feel raw and exposed. It is often the reason we choose to stay with the pain of what we don't want. It is only when our desire for change becomes so much bigger than our fears that we will take action. You will have heard that a lot. In many different contexts. And it is absolutely true.

And this is where the magic lies. Because, once we start to peel back our protective layers and barriers, we start to see them for what they are. Otherwise they will always constrain us. They can make us defensive if we don't address them. And anything relating to a fear that we hold, can start to become a touchy subject. We may also start to project our unaddressed fears outwards on to others. See them in others - even. I will talk about that another time.

What happens during the coaching process, is that we are challenged to look at the things that hold us back. Coaching is a series of incisive questions that respond to the narrative of the person being coached.

Fear isn't used to being challenged. And alongside our inner critic, it can start to become a bit of a bully. And bullies rely on the fact that we won't stand up to them.

And for as long as there is a sod and a law, when we do 'the thing' that we fear, we then ask ourselves ......

'Why did you make such hard work of it'?

Our fear is rarely as difficult as we thought it would be. And it is almost always, completely out of whack with the build up.

And we need to remember this, because otherwise, we become so practised in our routine, that we may just roll out the same response the next time. And the time after that.

That means being a bit honest with ourselves and some of our thoughts and opinions. It also means we have to be vulnerable. And we may have to accept that there are times that we are standing in our own way.

And believe me, when I say the more you start noticing your thought patterns, the easier it gets, I am not kidding.

But it has to come from us in the first place. We have to want to make the change. No one can do that bit for us.

So it's up to us to make the change if we want to. Particularly when fear stops us from doing the things that we want to.

If this post has resonated with you and you feel that you are being held back by some of the thoughts, emotions or feelings that I discuss, I invite you to book a call with me to discuss whether coaching could help you to move forward.

Other posts in the Red Carpet Series (click post below to read)

I have introduced the Red Carpet Series as a way to start encouraging honest conversation about some of the thoughts, feeling and emotions that we don't always feel comfortable about sharing. That is often because we may feel that there is shame associated with doing so. I’ve had some huge revelations in doing this work myself and also with my clients. There really is nothing like holding a mirror up and shining a light on what is actually going on inside of us. It is also true to say that some personality traits over the years have been treated like defects. I’ll be talking about these too! It’s incredibly insightful work and I want to share this because when we start to understand ourselves, and aren’t afraid of our thoughts, it’s incredibly freeing and empowering. Hence, the Red Carpet - because all of these emotions are a part of us, along with the good ones. So, by accepting that we have them, and giving them a bit of air time, it saves the problems that arise - instead of doing what we often do and brushing them under our 'proverbial' carpets. Keeping them hidden. Until they trip us up again.

My name is Nicky Kentisbeer and I am a Mindset & Confidence Coach. I support women to work on their mindset and develop the confidence that they need to move beyond the challenges that are keeping them stuck, towards a place that they would much rather be. I do this based on the belief that we have within us the most incredible resources and capabilities to find our own solutions - irrespective of our background or starting point. There is no barrier to entry.

Maybe you have a feeling of being stuck, going round in circles or living the same day over and over? Or, are you finding that the way you approach problems and challenges always gives you the same result? And it’s not the one that you want. As your coach, I can support you to understand and address the things that may be holding you back from achieving your goals. Through 1-to-1 coaching sessions, we will explore what it is that you want and the steps that you need to take to get started. I will ask lots of questions! Questions that you may not have asked of yourself. It is through these questions that I invite you to look at things in different ways, from a different perspective and access your own solutions accordingly. I will also invite you to look at old beliefs and the stories that you may be telling yourself about your abilities. I do not teach nor tell you how things should be done. And there is no judgement. If this resonates with you, I invite you to book a free 30-minute call with me to discuss whether coaching would be the right approach for you to start turning your ideas and aspirations into action.