How to Make Friends With Fear
I've been reflecting a lot lately on the role fear has played in my life. I have always been the kind of person to enthusiastically jump in and try new things, but many times fear would hold me back from following through, and cause me to give up way too soon.
Fear can hold us back from making positive changes in our lives like adopting a healthier lifestyle, pursuing a passion, or even leaving an unhealthy relationship.
The tricky part is that when fear steps in to sabotage your goals, it often disguises itself as something else: disinterest, practical excuses or just plain "changing your mind."
For me, fear would usually show up as a very strong sense of doubt. I would doubt my abilities. And I would doubt my decisions.
But several years ago I had a powerful opportunity to face my fear head on when I decided to leave my fitness jobs at the big name gyms and studios, and start holding classes on my own in a local church basement.
This was a big risk for me and I was terrified. But I also felt a strong calling to do this.
I had been feeling frustrated for many years about a few things in the fitness industry. I didn't like how gym memberships were too expensive for many people to afford.
And I also didn't like the fitness culture that bred body image insecurity and and extreme weight loss goals.
So I decided to pursue my dream of creating a space where people could come take classes at a fraction of the cost, in an environment where people of all ages, shapes and sizes would feel comfortable in the room and in their own skin.
My slogan was "Every BODY is welcome!"
But of course, as soon as I took the leap and started to put my plans into motion, fear got in my face in a big way and the intensity of it was almost crippling.
Every moment of every day I was filled with a deep sense of doubt and dread. Everything in me was saying that this was a huge mistake and that I was going to be a failure.
I was always raised to "trust my gut" so it was very hard for me to move forward when my gut was screaming NO!
But one day I was talking with a good friend of mine about my anxiety and she told me something that completely changed my life. She said that I have two ways I can choose to respond to fear:
This new perspective was probably the biggest lightbulb moment I have ever had, and it changed my entire life.
Now, rather than backing away from my fears, I stand up taller and walk straight at them. In fact, sometimes my fears are so strong that I have to get a running start in order to face them head on.
But standing up to my fears has allowed me to achieve more healthy goals than I ever could have dreamed of. And it all started with my decision to pursue my passion.
In fact, I have come to love the feeling of fear because I know that it is telling me that I am about to grow.
Last week I took this picture at one of my classes. This particular night I had over 60 amazing people in my class. I now get to work every day doing what I love.
And it is ONLY because I decided not to listen to the voice in my head (and my gut) that told me I was going to fail.
I hope you know that when you take a step toward any of your goals, fear does not mean that you are making a mistake. It means you are growing.