Fear is part of being on your growing edge.
I’m not certain where this statement comes from. I’d like to take credit for it, but I think someone much wiser than me said this.
Most people consider fear an emotion to be avoided at all costs. Here, it is considered an indication of change and growth. Could that really be the case? Let’s break this statement down and see if it is true.
Every human has felt fear and one point or another in their lifetime. It is an innate feeling and one that has allowed individuals to survive by moving them away from danger.
Fear may not feel good, but it can be positive in that it can keep us away from harm. There are physiological and psychological parts to fear, and I’m sure we have all had them. Sometimes they don’t feel attached to anything happening in our lives, and at other times they are very specific to the situation.
When fear strikes, our fight or flight reflex kicks in. There is a momentary freeze, that cold feeling that flows through the body, while the brain processes the information in front of it, determining what action, flight or fight, is more appropriate.
Thoughts play a huge part in the development of fear and our reactions to it. We play the worst-case scenario in our heads and then our hearts begin to pump fast, our faces flush, perspiration begins, mouth dries, eyes widen, looking for the threat that may not be visible.
What if you have been at the same job, the same route to work, the same schedule for the past five or ten years and you’re becoming bored? You think there is more to life, but you are not sure how to find it.
Now suppose you become aware that you need to hone skills that are unfamiliar to you. You seek out a way to learn these skills. You could read books, observe people you know who have those skills, seek out a mentor or an executive coach, use trial and error. But you target what you don’t know and develop a way to learn it all.
So, yes, fear is part of the growing edge. Just knowing that it is and that those who choose to grow experience fear helps keep it low enough to cope with it.
1) Often we have assumptions about what it will be like to move into the growing zone that are not based on fact and, indeed, are untrue and frightening. Discover what part is causing you to avoid moving and find out if it is real or just part of your imagination.
2) Re-label emotions. Fear and excitement are so similar that we often confuse the two and moving into the growing edge will have both emotions firing like crazy. Re-label some of the fear excitement and see if that rings true for you. Think how it is to be on a roller coaster. Fear and excitement, right? And you still got on.
3) Focus. You can choose to focus on the fear in starting a new, unfamiliar process, or you can focus on the process itself. The second will get you much closer to your goals.
4) Limit stepping into the growing edge to just one or two areas at a time. Growth takes time, energy, and perseverance. Expecting to make many changes at the same time will increase the need for these as well as the fear that is a part of change.
5) Don’t diminish your accomplishments. I have worked with many people who, once they have accomplished the change, talk as if they have nothing to be proud of. They do, and so do you. It takes courage to face fear of the unknown and of things that can make you cringe, even if they hold you back. So be proud and aware of your accomplishments.
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