Fear – Gratitude for your Fears?
How do you deal with fear?
Today’s Theme: Fear
You are afraid. Feel it.
What are you afraid of? How does that protect you? How does it get in your way? Does it stop you from acting? Do you have any phobias? Are there thoughts that keep you paralyzed, tasks or people you avoid at all cost? Things you get angry about?
The book “The Gift of Fear” was very enlightening to me. I started to see fear from a new perspective. In one example they had interviewed rape and abduction survivors. Pretty universally, the women had a “creepy feeling” about that “nice stranger” who helped them with carrying their groceries and insisted on bringing them into the apartment or car, …. But they ignored that feeling. And they got hurt – life-alteringly.
So – first of all – fear is your friend.
Story – Sink or Swim
My sincere thanks to Fran for suggesting that I share her story.
My very dear friend Fran is a swimmer! Now! She just said it the other day. I think it’s the first time I’ve heard her say that. She was elated when she said it. And I am elated for her.
See – for the first 1/2 century of her life Fran had wanted to learn to swim. She took lessons. She made sure her kids had lessons and learned to swim. She, on the other hand, became more and more frustrated and afraid of the water. When they taught her to float, she would sink. She also has curvature of the spine and it affects how she feels her legs and how they respond differently from what she thinks she feels. She was right to fear the water. It was not a safe environment for her. There was a lot to overcome.
For probably the first ten years of our friendship I didn’t even know that Fran wanted to learn to swim. Then one day we talked about my daughter and I being featured on the NBC Weekend Today Show for the 35th anniversary of Title IX: mother and daughter – swimmer and diver, both on university teams. I shared with Fran how I taught my kids to swim very early. My youngest could already swim under water when he was still using a pacifier. When I’ve taught swimming, I’ve always gravitated to the most difficult and fearful students. —- So we, Fran and I, hatched a plan.
And the rest is history. Today, and for the rest of her life, Fran is a swimmer! She loves to swim!
Call to Action and Why This Matters
Do you have a deep desire? Is fear stopping you from attaining something you truly want? May be, like Fran, you have tried and tried, and failed and failed, and almost given up? Don’t give up. Keep looking for the right kind of help. You can do it!
For Fran swimming is now her favorite exercise. It doesn’t feel like a workout. It feels like play and she loves it. Here is how she got there:
1. Get help you trust: She needed an expert whom she trusted. Someone who cared and had only her best interest at heart. She was frustrated with her lack of progress once we started her lessons. But I knew she was on the right path and let her know that.
2. Feel Safe: She progressed very slowly at first to make her feel safe in the water: using float belts, going only in as deep as she felt she could risk it, clinging to the wall. I was standing right beside her all the time. There was no judgment, only encouragement.
3. Get Curious: Start playing, get curious, moving and feeling the resistance of the water, how it affected her movements. Differences of moving on land and in water: learning and feeling, playful curiosity.
4. Courage: As she got more comfortable over a period of months, she was able to get in the water without me. It took great courage the first time she went to the pool without me. She told the lifeguard to watch out for her in case she got into trouble. She was afraid and yet she knew she was now safe enough to take that next step.
5. Persistence: As time went on, Fran found other teachers. Many were able to help her progress in different ways. Some didn’t work out.
6. Confidence: She developed the confidence to keep going and the knowing that she could learn to swim – despite setbacks.
7. Repeat: Along the way there were other fear hurdles to overcome. Other things to do to feel safe, get curious, and courageous steps to take.
What would you like to be able to do? Who can help you get started – safely?
Taking it Farther
• We respond in different ways to fear:
- Try to ignore it – may be at our own peril
- Fight: get angry (hiding fear behind anger is very common)
- Flight: run away from it, avoid it
- Freeze: paralyzed with fear; fading into the woodwork; being a wall flower; being invisible; lack of action; procrastination; indecisiveness
What’s your preferred way of dealing with fear?
• Realize that fear has kept you safe from real or perceived harm. Fear is your friend.
Learn about fear. One of the books I recommend: “The Gift of Fear”.
• Get very clear on something you really want. Going beyond fear, shifting from fear to curiosity, are “muscles” that take time to develop. Start with something small or something you have a deep desire to achieve. Having a deep desire will help you through the times when you want to give up.
• Whatever you want to achieve, do it with someone, get support from someone who cares deeply about you and wants you to succeed.
There are also the seemingly “irrational fears”. — There is so much more I could share with you.
Want more help? I’m here for you. Tired of holding yourself back? Get support. Call to get yourself into a coaching program. Have questions? Call to get answers. Edith at 847.913.3900