The closest people to me know that I have an unending fascination with fear. I never allow my curiosity to waiver. I never rest, and convince myself that I’ve got it figured out. I’m constantly working to peel back more and more layers of this big old fear onion.
A few months back, I had an breakthrough in my relationship with fear. I peeled back a layer, and realized that most of my fears can be dealt with by taking physical action. I discovered that, the more I leaned in, and did the thing I was afraid of, the less I became reluctant to tackle my fear. Now, my fears still exist, however, my relationship to them, and their severity is slightly less. I discovered that, the more I did things like “speak publicly” the less weighed down I became by that fear. The less I let that fear stop me. Physically dealing with my fears, is contrary to most theories that believe fear needs to be dealt with on an mental or emotional level.
Yesterday, another layer of the onion fell away. I was jogging along, listening to a podcast (If you don’t run to podcasts, get on the bandwagon. You can strengthen your mind and body at the same time). The podcast introduced the idea that most of us incorrectly define our fears. I’m not sure if those were the exact words, however, the general concept remains intact. The podcast detailed that, instead of defining our fears as the things were are afraid of, we’re actually packaging the thing we want to do, as our fear. Many of us are packaging our goal, the thing that takes courage to do, as our fear.
So here’s where it really hit home, for years I’ve shared openly about my fear of public speaking, public appearances, sharing in front of groups, etc. With a few sentences uttered through my AirPods, I became utterly aware of the fact that, I’m not afraid of public speaking, I’m afraid of public humiliation, of sounding foolish, of people not liking me (the list goes on). The public speaking part, that’s my big, courageous, awesome goal! Shit shit shit. How many other things have I defined incorrectly? How many goals has my brain absorbed as a fear, all because I packaged it that way? Let me tell you, the list is very long. Here’s just a few: “I’m afraid of surfing,” “I’m afraid to run a 100-miler,” “I’m afraid to start my own business” “I’m afraid to be a life coach.” Trust me when I say the list continues in perpetuity.
Significant danger lies in mislabeling our fears. When we do so, we are collapsing our goals and fears, and directly placing them after the two most powerful words in our language, “I am.” There’s something wild that happens when we place words after “I am.” Our brains and bodies begin to absorb the subsequent words/phrases, and believe them to be true. Words, and how we use them, hold incredible power. There’s a rewiring process that begins to happen, where we slowly become whatever is after that two word phrase. Here’s the real conundrum, how are we ever supposed to achieve our goals, when we’ve created a verbal army that’s pushing back against them? Every time I say “I am afraid of public speaking,” my brain adds a little bit more artillery to prevent me from public speaking.
We have must become careful with our words. We must restore the power behind our goal, carefully acknowledge what our actual fear is, and get to work (real physical work).
Let me reintroduce myself, “My name is Kat Wyman, I am a public speaker, who just happens to be afraid of people not finding value in my words.” Now excuse me, I have to go stand up and speak.