Maybe you followed along on my Instagram my journey to face 40 Fears in 40 Days. I had so much fun with this self-imposed challenge. I did things like dancing naked, failing on purpose, giving blood, asking for help, and saying no.
It often surprised me that the things I thought would be scariest were actually easy. And the things that seemed simple are the ones that really made me sweat. I wanted to explore in writing my overall reactions and lessons from the 40 days. And I hope it will be useful to you as well.
• Most Stuff Actually Isn’t That Scary.
I borrowed a challenge from The Four-Hour Workweek to lay on the floor on a public place for 60 seconds. My head was spinning all kinds of stories about what I would say if anyone asked what I was doing. I thought about how everyone must be staring at me and thinking how strange I am. The 60 seconds went by slowly and no one said anything. I couldn’t even see people’s faces so I have no idea if they even noticed me.
I am so afraid of what other people will think, but the reality is that people are so busy doing their own thing that they don’t even notice me laying on the floor. No one asked if I needed help or if I was ok. What I am really afraid of is something that isn’t coming, and if it does come, I can’t do anything about it. Bracing for the worst was really just playing tricks in my imagination, not in the real world.
2. I Am Stronger Than I Thought, But Fears Don’t Actually Get Conquered.
When I had to ask for a discount on my coffee, I was sweating through my shirt. My heart was pounding and I stumbled over my words, but I took a deep breath, smiled, and asked politely. I didn’t get the discount that day, but figured that it would be much easier to ask for a freebie a few weeks later in the challenge.
But I was surprised when I had the same problem. I had to psych myself up in the car before walking into the ice cream shop, and I practiced what I would say when I walked in because I was so afraid that people would think I was crazy. I was still sweating and nervous.
What I learned was that I still have some made up stories in my head, and I need to keep questioning them because THEY AREN’T REAL. It doesn’t magically go away because I did the thing that scares me, it is still there chattering its fear story in my ear. It’s going to take some time to break old patterns.
3. People Love to Support You.
I learned at my family reunion that even though my family doesn’t necessary “like” all my posts in an outward way, they are reading, processing, and trying the experiment in their own way. I discussed my post about making eye contact with strangers with my cousin, because she saw the post and tried it for herself. I was surprised to have this conversation with her because she hadn’t liked a post in a while so I assumed she hadn’t seen or read it.
But what I realized is that the people that care about me are actually being really inspired by the changes I have made in my life the last year. And when I gave blood and told strangers that I did it because of a challenge, everyone was so supportive of me and my fears about the process. It’s lovely to know people are rooting me on. I believe that human beings genuinely want to encourage and support each other, we are communal animals after all. We just don’t give each other the chance to do that.
I urge you to ask yourself if anything I learned resonates with you. Ask yourself if you are sabotaging yourself in your imagination and you don’t even recognize it. I would be willing to bet that you probably are. Where are you willing to get a little uncomfortable?
Doing a lot of things that made me feel uncomfortable was extremely valuable to building my self-confidence. I feel stronger, I feel more willing to question my doubts, and I know I am capable of pushing forward. It also got me out of a few ruts where I was making assumptions. If you’d like to try some of my challenges, reply to this email and I will send you the PDF I created with all the challenges in one place. Try a few, see what happens for you, and let me know how it goes!