Terri* could easily picture the little girl sitting on the bench that she often saw in her dreams. She did not know the girl’s name but could clearly hear her voice reminding her of her shortcomings. She whispered that Terri was not smart enough, kind enough ,etc. As Terri and I discussed what this all meant during our session, she realized that the girl in the dream represented all the fears she had about not measuring up to the expectations of her father. She did not feel that she could ever be good enough for him. That fear was always just beneath the surface and affected her every waking moment. The amazing thing was that Terri was very successful in every single thing she attempted but she had always let the fear of possible failure loom over her like an ominous cloud. During our coaching partnership, she was able to face and manage her fears and stop letting them drive her life. The dreams about the little girl decreased and eventually stopped as she worked with her coach and a therapist to understand her fear and address it.
What are you afraid of? There are many ways to view fear. My favorite acronym for fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. We often allow fear to become a self fulfilling prophecy because we manufacture evidence to support what we think about ourselves. Being fearful is a choice that does not allow you to be the best you that is possible. Worry is an ally of fear.
My Mother used to say that we worry about things before they happen, when they happen and after they happen. She said we should wait until they happen and make one worry do. She offered sage advice that we should consider. Here are a few ideas that might help you handle your fears.
- Acknowledge your fears but don’t let them control you. A veteran coach friend of mine says, “It is ok to let fear go along for the ride, you just can’t let it drive.”
- Separate fact from fear-induced fiction. You can tell yourself something for so long that we start to believe it is factual when it is either totally or partially a figment of our active imagination. What we make up about a situation is often just that…made up and not based on any factual evidence.
- Practice looking for the positive about yourself and others. There is one line in the movie, Pretty Woman, where Julia Robert’s character says, “It is easier to believe the bad stuff.” We can overcome that syndrome with practice. The subconscious mind is a sponge that will believe whatever we feed it and will then help it to become true. Don’t feed it fear and failure or it believes that is what you want to be true and it will help you achieve your goals.
This quote on fear is often attributed to Nelson Mandela but it was actually from a book by Marianne Williamson. Choose to focus on your light instead of your fears. You are enough already.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Acknowledge your fear, put it in the backseat and keep driving towards your God-given brilliance.
Beverley Wright PCC is an executive coach and leadership consultant. She is the CEO of Wright Choice Group LLC. www.wrightchoicegroup.com