Not Waving But Drowning: How To Face Your Fears by Amy Woodside

Not Waving But Drowning: How To Face Your Fears by Amy Woodside

“So much of what we worry about is in our heads and never happens.”

One of the common misconceptions around the women I interview for OKREAL is that they’re fearless. Not true. They’ve just found ways to move forward in spite of their fear—often while still fully freaked out. We all experience fear: from the subtle, constant anxieties, to the full-blown paralysis that results from letting it take over. At its best, it can motivate you to move forward. At its worst, it can cripple you from moving at all.

Our June mentor circles will focus on how to manage fear in all of its forms—looking at how we can deal with it on a day-to-day basis, and prevent it from stopping us. The topic of fear has come up at every single circle we’ve had thus far—below are three insights that have stuck with me.

Don’t Let Fear Be Your Decision Maker

Decision-making from a place of fear is: feeling like you’re forced to make a decision on someone else’s terms, when you’re overwhelmed, in a state of anxiety, or not thinking straight, or making a choice for the wrong reasons altogether. Decisions made from a place of fear never end well. Have you ever hired the first intern you interview because you’re scrambling and overworked, and it results in more work because they turn out to be the complete wrong fit? Or said yes to a project because you felt like you ‘should do it for the opportunity’, even though you knew instinctively from the first sloppy email that it was going to be a disaster? While it’s a luxury to make decisions from a comfortable place of peace and assurance, whenever you can, step back and ask yourself: is this going to bring me to a better place in one month, two months, six months?

Fear Isn’t Fact

So much of what we worry about is in our heads and never happens. If you’re prone to anxiety (like yours truly), it’s helpful to remind yourself that fear is not fact. I love Caroline Paul’s, adventurer and author of The Gutsy Girl, approach to fear: “There’s a lot going on when you face something new and potentially scary, and it doesn’t have to be in the outdoors, it can be in the workplace, in a relationship. There are so many emotions involved. There’s exhilaration, excitement, anticipation—and if it’s a physical activity, as in when I was a firefighter, it’s an assessment of your skills, so there’s confidence there too. So there’s all this stuff and fear is just one part of it. It’s a little flag that pops up, and you’re supposed to look at it, but you shouldn’t pay it so much attention that it becomes front and center and stops you from doing anything. Because most of the time it’s not relevant to the situation.”

Give It A Name

This is a great technique that I learned from a woman at our very first circle. She gave that voice in her head—the one that perpetuates fear—a name. She called the voice Peggy. Every time she heard, ‘You’re not capable, people are going to judge you, you don’t know what you’re doing…’ She would tell Peggy to beat it. It helped her separate the voice from her self-esteem—similar to the age-old ‘You are not your thoughts’ idea. Next time you hear that voice in your head, give it a name, and tell it to get lost.

Fight your fears. If you’re in NYC, you can sign-up for OKREAL’s June Mentor Circles here.

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