This is a little different than my normal posts, but it has been SO on my mind lately.
This past week, I was consumed by a story that I randomly stumbled upon on Instagram. A couple lost their 3 year old son a couple of weeks ago as he ran out into the street to get a frisbee. He was hit by a truck. This story really shook me up; although I didn’t know these people, it just hit me how freakin’ short life is and how it can end at any moment.
I was also reading “The Fault In Our Stars” at the same time, and was sitting sobbing on the couch the other night while reading it’s ending. I won’t give it away, but just know that this book serves as a reminder that we should be appreciating every single day that we are alive.
The combo of these two events has really left me feeling a) sad b) a little scared and c) really freakin’ empowered to keep minimizing the amount I let fear hold me back and maximizing the amount I take advantage of my one life.
Honestly, sometimes we just need a reminder that this is our ONE life — No dress rehearsal. No do-overs — and we are in the driver’s seat.
I’ve lived in fear for so much of my life. Fear to speak up. Fear that if I stopped counting calories and trusted my body that I would blow up. Fear that I would choose the wrong guy. Fear that I would make mistakes. Fear that I would be wrong. Fear that I wouldn’t make enough money. Fear that I had to tell people I was struggling. Fear that I wasn’t ___ enough.
And I know it’s not just me, the majority of us are like this. We hate our jobs but are too scared to quit. We want to know what the guy is thinking but are too scared to ask. We want so desperately to stop dieting but are too afraid that if we loosen up, we’ll get fat and be miserable. We want to share our work or our thoughts but are too scared of what others may think. We want to start a business but fear that we aren’t smart or capable enough to make it work.
The list goes on.
And the worst part about fear is that it just keeps us stuck and unhappy. We live small, we judge other people, we make choices that don’t make us happy, we feel unfulfilled, we snap at people, we live in anxiety.
I work with people every single day who are caught in fear. And it’s not just my clients, it’s all of us.
But want to know the endearing side of fear and why it even exists? Fear stems from our human desire to survive. It stems from our desire to feel loved, to feel like we belong and are accepted, and to feel safe.
And any time our “survival” is threatened – or PERCEIVES that it is threatened – our fear voice steps in and says DON’T. And it uses any tricky little tool it can to convince you not to do that.
DON’T post that… you’re not established enough to have that kind of opinion.
DON’T quit your job… you’re not going to be able to find anything else
DON’T get rid of your calorie counting app… without it, you’ll be fat and unhappy.
DON’T text him first… he will think you’re desperate and will be so turned off by you.
DON’T wear a bikini… everyone’s going to judge you and think you’re so f*cked up because you’ve gained 10 lbs.
It’s important for you to recognize that this voice is fear and it’s important for you to understand that it isn’t real. It’s not you, and it doesn’t need to be the voice you listen to.
You have the power to recognize that this voice is rooted in fear and then choose to believe in a different voice, a voice that supports your future and the woman/ man that you want to become.
So how do we move past fear? Here are the first three steps:
1. Recognize it and name it. I call this voice my “fear voice” and here’s how I recognize it. When my fear voice is ruling my life, I feel icky, weighed down, misaligned with myself, small, I am overanalyzing and anxious, I get stuck in comparison traps, and I judge myself and others constantly. Conversely, when I am living with love, I feel lighter, more expressive, free, bold, happier, and totally accepting of myself and others. When I start to feel the fear voice creepin’ its way in, I first recognize it as just that — my fear voice. This helps me separate it from the truth and gives me a CHOICE of whether or not to believe it.
2. Find out what it’s rooted in. When you hear your fear voice speak out, ask what is so scary about X result happening. For instance (this is an example from one of my clients recently) “I want to leave my job to be a personal trainer, but I’m too scared to pull the trigger” What’s so scary about actually pulling the trigger? “I just don’t know if I have the right body to be a personal trainer” What’s scary about not having the typical personal trainer body? “Nobody will want to work with me.” What’s scary about nobody wanting to work with you? “I’ll feel like a failure and shitty about my body and myself”
Another example: “She is so much skinnier than I am. I need to lose 5 pounds.” What’s scary about her being skinnier than you? “It means that people will find her more attractive than me.” What’s scary about her being more attractive than you? “She’ll attract the good looking guys and nobody will want me.” What’s scary about nobody wanting you? “I’ll be alone.”
Now, once you’ve taken a step back and gained an understanding for why you’re freaking out and where the fear is rooted in, you can move on to #3.
3. Be willing to see things differently and reframe your fear.
When you understand that it’s your “fear voice” that’s speaking and that it isn’t real, you have the power to choose to see it differently. (Reminder: See #1 for signs that your fear voice is taking over).
Try to soften into a voice of love, compassion, connectedness and- in my own words- “chill the F*CK out”.
Ask yourself if there’s a different way to see this. In the case of my client who fears becoming a personal trainer because she doesn’t have the perfect body, I suggested that she start following people in that industry who are successful and who don’t have a six pack. I suggested she start talking to trainers to find out if it is in fact TRUE that without a six pack, you will fail. I also posed the possibility that potential clients may actually gravitate toward her because she isn’t jacked… some people would prefer that.
Ask yourself “what else might be true?” Could you leave your job and stumble into the next perfect career? Could he text back and say he’d actually love to see you again? Could loving your body instead of criticizing it actually be THE ANSWER to you losing those damn 20 pounds? Could posting that blog post actually be exactly what someone needs to hear that day?
What is a more empowering thought?
You now have an opportunity to choose a more empowering thought, and I want to encourage you to do that every single time this fear voice creeps it’s way in (because it will).
I want to come back to this point that life is short. I know this sounds morbid, but sometimes it helps to honestly think that you may die tomorrow. You really might and we have no control over that. I’m not trying to scare you, but I am trying to be realistic and give you a little bit of a reality check.
I know how scary it can be to take risks. To stop dieting, to quit your job, to start a business, to fall in love… and to not know what the f*ck you are doing when you’re doing all of it.
I also know how exciting the “messy” can be. The gray areas, the not knowing, the possibility. And to get to this place, it does take constant negotiations with that fear voice – thanking it for trying to protect you all these years, but also telling it you don’t need it right now. You’re going to survive and things will be okay.
Remember, life is short, and this ain’t no dress rehearsal. If you needed to hear this, please use this as your encouragement to live out of fear less and from a place of love more.
In the comments below, I would love to hear… what would you do if you weren’t scared? And what is one small act that you can commit to doing that totally freaks you out?
I am here to support you.
P.S. By this point, you’ve heard me say it before: our bodies know what’s best for us, not some diet book. And more often than not, our issues around food have everything to do with our relationship to ourselves and our bodies. That’s where my good friend Ali Leipzig, body confidence coach, comes in. Ali has an upcoming group program Stop Fixing, Start Living that starts on May 27th and I’m pumped because I am the guest mentor this month. We’re covering everything on body confidence, self-love, and intuitive eating. If you are desiring to wake up at peace with your body without scrambling to figure out which outfit will cover up your “problem areas”, join us. If you are desiring to finally stop feeling the need to fix yourself, change yourself, mold yourself to what others want, join us. See you there.
P.P.S. I just opened up registration for the June Intuitive Eating Challenge. Sign up here!