What I Learned Facing My Fears

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! 

Mastering Learning the Hard Way

If colleges gave degrees in learning things the hard way I would have my Masters and be on my way to a Phd. My minors would be in stubbornness and mistake making. At least that would give me a piece of paper to frame to show something for all these mistakes and lessons learned. Right now, all I have is some wisdom that I am trying to live each day.

 

Since I don’t have a physical degree, I am going to write some of the lessons down so that they are in print, I can incorporate them on a deeper level, and hopefully they will also be useful for you.

 

The biggest lesson that I am still practicing on a daily basis is where to turn for guidance. I used to be a person that devoured books, courses, quotes, podcasts, or wisdom from friends in order to make my decisions. I used to think that the answers were out there. That everyone else was given a magical key that had all the symbols and their meanings and could tell me what I was supposed to do. I thought all these people who wrote books were special, that they had something that I didn’t because they had this book in print. Someone came along and bopped them on the head and marked them as #blessed or smart and that I had to learn from them.

 

I spent who knows how much money on courses and mentors and books and videos that I thought would share some insight that I needed to be better. All the while, I was looking at myself as not enough: not smart enough, not talented enough, not networked enough, not wise enough. I thought that I needed more books or more knowledge or more things to give me the answers.

 

Can you see the big “but” coming?

 

BUT that is truly all an illusion. What I learned, the hard way of course, was that there is no magical expert or magic wand to make someone more special than anyone else. Each one of us has special gifts and it is up to each person to bring their gifts to the world. You are your own expert.

 

I could give credit to the numerous teachers that helped me find this wisdom, because it was almost like I needed permission to do the thing that I already knew. I was getting tired of asking everyone else for advice on what I needed to do. I realized that everyone is just giving advice through the filter of their own experiences.

 

When I had a relationship fall apart, I realized I couldn’t ask anyone else what I should do. No one could answer that question. I had to hear what my heart was saying. I could ask people for support, but they would never be able to tell me what was right or wrong.

 

That relationship ended up not working out, but if I hadn’t listened to my heart and given it my best shot I would probably still be wondering what if? I would wonder if there was something that I hadn’t tried and if that would have been the thing to make it all better. Not that there was anything, but that’s how my brain works. It is always looking for how to make things better.

 

I’ve been practicing this for the last year and a half. Turning to myself before turning to anyone else. I still listened to podcasts, mentors, coaches, books, and courses but they are playing a different role in my life. I use them for research to inspire me to see what is possible in this gorgeous life we have. I use them to keep me thinking positively. And I use them for interesting conversations, I’m listening to more fiction and humor than I ever have in the past.

 

Where are you turning to outside sources to save you? What can you do to learn more from yourself?