June 18th 2017
My four steps to handling fear :)
This week we’re going to talk about fear and how to empty our fear bucket. So our fear bucket fills up over time, days, weeks, months, depending on the person. Whenever we feel any type of fear and we don’t address it it goes inside our fear bucket. And so over time this bucket fills up and eventually gets to the point where it’s overwhelming and we need to address it.
I wanted to share the different ways that I address fear once I get to that stage where I’m feeling overwhelmed. And sometimes you just feel overwhelmed with fear and anxiousness and nervousness and you can’t quite pinpoint why and what it is and where it came from, and it could just be that over time you just haven’t been addressing little, little fears and it’s the feeling of fear has just built up to a point where you need to pay attention to it and you need to do something about it.
So the first thing I do is I write down on a big blank piece of paper everything at the moment that is causing some kind of anxiety or stress or fear in my life right now, and it can be in any different area. So I just kind of brainstorm and throw it all out on the paper. And then I just look over what I’ve written and inevitably a few things will just pop off the page, and with those things that want to grab my attention, I then dive deeper with those.
And so something will come up and the next thing I do is figure out what level of fear is there and what level of danger is there, because danger is real and fear isn’t real. Danger is something you need to address, it concerns your safety, you’ve got to be cautious. The idea is not to be fearless and irresponsible with your life. You’ve got to take into account any kind of danger that it’s presenting, but then also on the other side just to have an idea of measuring the fear factor in a given situation.
And so once I’ve got an idea of what the danger factor is and what the fear factor is, it’s usually like this. Like there’s not that much danger in the life that I’m living, very privileged, very happy, beautiful Australia, there’s not too much going on that causes a great amount of danger to my physical safety. It’s mainly for me a lot of… just fear, fear of being judged, fear of things not working out, whatever it is. It’s kind of that kind of emotion that I need to deal with.
And so once I’ve got an idea of the level of fear that’s going on, I then want to define exactly what the fear is. So the first step is just brainstorming through all the things that are kind of making you feel nervous and stressed and fearful, and then a couple of things will jump out. Find the things that are calling your attention and get a measure… The second step is to get a measure of your danger level and your fear level.
And then the third step is to define exactly what am I scared of, what is the fear, what am I afraid of, what’s the worst case scenario, what’s the worst thing that could happen in the situation. What is it, what exactly is it that I’m scared of?
When fear is just this overwhelming mountain, it’s overwhelming and you can’t address it, you can’t do anything about it. It’s just too heavy. But once you start chunking down and trying to figure out what exactly, specifically am I afraid of, then you can start actually addressing it. So you write that down.
And the last step, the fourth step, which is the most challenging step, is to walk through the fear. And it requires about ten seconds of breathing. When you take that step into the fear, your body will be reacting, trying to stop you, trying to hold you back because it’s got this perceived threat that you’ve already reasoned out is not danger, it’s just fear. But then you walk through it. And there comes a moment when the fear turns into excitement. It might not be the first time you do it or the second time or the third time, it could be, but eventually the fear turns into excitement.
And the difference between fear and excitement it’s exactly… it’s processed and felt exactly the same way in your body, in your emotional body, but the difference is fear has got a recurring running tape that’s petrified. The voice in your head is running on “petrified” and it’s trying to warn you, it’s trying to make you stop. So it’s telling you all the things that could go wrong, that could go wrong, that could go wrong, and it’s a horrible feeling and that when you feel fear… But the butterflies in the stomach, excitement of fear, the beating heart, excitement of fear, the sweaty palms, excitement of fear. Your body processes fear and excitement in exactly the same way, and the difference is excitement is when you’re clear and you’re just enthusiastic and you want to dive in. Excitement is just a few short steps away from fear. And so if you can just move and walk through the talk you’ll get to excitement.
So for example there’s a couple of times recently where I felt this way.
One was quite minor. I had got onto Gumtree which is kind of the equivalent to Craigslist, just a local trading website, and I had… when we first moved to Melbourne I had bought several pieces of furniture in all different areas around Melbourne to pick up, and I didn’t really know how far one suburb was from the other and I had bought several pieces of furniture. So once I realised that okay, I’m going to need to hire like a truck or a van and go from one spot to the other, I had already organised to meet the various people along the way at certain times in the day so that it could all get done smoothly.
The night before my husband said to me he’d forgotten that he was called in to work on Saturday, he had to go into work. So he was going to be the one that was going to drive the truck, and and so I was faced with this dilemma, do I cancel all the people that I’ve just booked appointments with to pick up their stuff or do I just kind of face the fear of driving a truck on my own, which I’ve never done and just see how I go. And I thought oh, if I cancel it today I’m going to have to… so much effort in just lining up everyone perfectly so that I could get to each place on time. And so I decided alright, I’m just going to try it. I’m just going to try and drive this truck.
I’m quite short, I’m only five foot two, so I got my booster cushion. It’s like that big. It gives me a bit of height over the steering wheel. So I took that, I went to Budget which is the place where you hire trucks and vans. And I told the guy there. He said are you the one driving. I said yes. Have you ever driven a truck before? No. So he took me through the whole process of driving this particular vehicle. And I’ve never driven a vehicle that was half automatic and half manual, like that didn’t make sense to me at all, but he explained what that meant and how to do it. And he gave me the number and said if you ever have any trouble just call me.
So anyway, I’m sitting on my booster pillow, he’s giving me all the instructions, all the paperwork signed, I’ve got it for the day, and it takes me half an hour to leave the place, like a few times the guy came out just to make sure I was okay. I’m like yeah, I’m just getting sorted. What was happening was I was just processing the fear because I was so high up, I’ve never driven such a big vehicle before with the dimensions it was, and the heaviness, it was like I don’t know how many tons it was but it was just crazy, it was just too big for me, at least I thought.
I remember the moments when I turned the key and I started driving out of the pickup area. And I could feel the fear in my stomach. I could feel my palms were sweaty, I could feel like my legs were a bit like jelly. And what was going through my mind was very positive because my mind now is like my own best friend, so it often is like my cheerleader. So I’m driving and what’s going on in my mind is you can do it, you just breathe, look, just go slowly, everyone will just overtake around you, you know like very… like a parent to a child. Just take it slow, just breathe, keep going, you can do this, indicate. Like everything was so heightened, kind of like when you first learned to drive. Everything was so heightened. I was aware of all the surroundings. I was aware when I put the indicator on, when I turn the steering wheel.
And it took a few minutes… like the fear was there in my body for quite a long time at the beginning of the trip. But it got to the point where I was getting used to it, I was getting comfortable with driving this vehicle, and no joke, like about fifteen minutes into the journey I started loving it. I was like oh my gosh, this is awesome, I’m so high, I’m above like everyone… I can see all the cars. Usually when I’m just driving my normal car I can literally just see the car in front of me. I can see everything, I feel actually safer, and I was just feeling like I’m like Queen of the world. It was amazing, like I’m Queen of the road.
It was such an exhilarating feeling, and that’s when fear turned into excitement and I was just unstoppable. I loved it. I really enjoyed picking up all the furniture along the way and then I came home and I couldn’t wait to tell my husband what an awesome day I had. But I realised when I was just reflecting on that whole experience that if I had backed out and not gone ahead with picking up all the furniture, I would never have experienced the excitement of driving this truck. I would never have had that whole experience of walking through a fear, and the real buzz you get when you do something you think you couldn’t do and you didn’t really want to do it and it was just completely scary and terrifying and you still just tried. Gave it a go, you feel so proud of yourself that at least you gave it a go. I was really lucky because I ended up enjoying it. But even if I didn’t, even if it was like a quite a difficult experience, I still would’ve been proud that I just tried and gave it a go.
Just remember whenever you’ve got any kind of fear there is a point where it will turn from fear to excitement. And fear is simply something that you just don’t know how to do yet or you don’t know how to handle yet, whatever the situation, whatever the task, whatever the skill, and literally just with practice and just with being tenacious and giving it a go and continuing to try, the fear turns into something that you’re used to feel, because experience now has taught you that everything is going to be okay.
Just think of something that you used to be terrified of that now you don’t even think about it. It doesn’t enter your mind as something to be worried about or scared about, and draw on those past experiences and know that that’s what can pull you through whatever fear you’re experiencing at this moment.
So I encourage you to walk through your fear. Please share with me whatever fear you’re walking through and I love hearing stories. So cheers to everyone who walks through their fear and gets a taste of the excitement once the mind stuff goes away and you’re just in this pure joy, thrilling feeling of excitement and facing something that you thought you couldn’t do.