September 9, 2011

Kicking Fear's Sweet Ass!

Remember this? You were little and
getting the nerve up for your first
dive or jump? You did it though..
didn't you? So what would you
do now if you weren't fearful?
A very wise friend once told me that he believes fear is the root to all problems. Fear of facing the hard stuff, fear of change, fear of success, fear of hurt, fear of failure, and fear for fear sake.  I really think he's on to something. For over a year now, I have been battling a war against my own fear and I think I may be ready to write about it.  Although this one is a hard post to write as admitting to this is challenging, I fear I may not overcome it if I don't deal with it soon. My biggest fear is becoming the person I never wanted to become. I fear working in a job I don't enjoy, being in a relationship I want to leave, living in a house I hate, and dreaming of what could have been if I just made the effort and faced my fears. I seriously don't know what happened to me as a child...perhaps it all started when my mother hung me upside for the ankles shaking me to cough up the carrot I was choking on (but I digress....).

I have been struggling with my own professional fears for over two years now.  All I wanted to do when I started grad studies was change the world (nothing big....). Many people made fun of my big picture thinking and told me it couldn't be done, but I was sure that one little person with a big idea could make a difference. I wanted to open up my own business and offer judgement free and inclusive health counselling to those who never stepped foot in a fitness center. I wanted to be a weekly columnist for a newspaper (not a national one so much....a little one would do) and offer real life health stories that would make people laugh and feel good about themselves (versus bad that they are eating a donut and sitting on the couch). I'm not doing any of this. Although I love my job, I think I could do better.

Lately, I have met people with far less education and experience as myself but with much more ...what do you call it......belief in themselves?....self confidence?.....motivation?...than I have now. Because of this, I have learned one really hard lesson over this year. It isn't the degrees you have or your years of experience, it's all about attitude! For example, "Barb", a woman I met last year, had just moved to my town. She arrived with a certificate to teach Zumba (and a passion to share it). Within one year, she opened her own fitness studio (no degree, no experience, just energy and a passion for her craft). Now I know fitness centers come and go and the chances of her remaining open are very low, but she did it (and in my opinion that takes a large amount of courage). Another guy quit his day job to begin a life coaching business...he is working as a life coach today (he has yet to be certified and is doing something I wouldn't feel comfortable doing...but he is following his dream without fear).

I believe we pass many
doors just like this one
without opening them
for fear of what's on
the other side....I fear the
regret I will feel not opening
more of them...
Why am I not writing query letters to newspapers or putting my own business out there more? Fear. What if I get rejected? What if my writing really is crap and I'm like one of those singers on American Idol who thinks they are the next Beyonce but really sound like a dying cow stuck in the mud? What if no one in my town is interested in the services I feel so strongly about? What if I showcase my passion to the world and the world isn't interested? I do believe the fear of failure is overcoming any passion and belief in myself that I need to succeed....and the worst part is, I'm stuck (and that's really really scary). It's fascinating to me that, as a behaviour change specialist, I have become immobile. I can action plan, goal set, create a list of barriers for success, read the books, talk to the right people, and still do nothing about it. Perhaps it all started, as a small child, when Mrs. Patterson, my fourth grade teacher, accused me of cheating off Tony when I received an A on my math test...(but I digress).

I know, eventually, I will give myself a good bitch slap and crawl out of this self-created abyss of fear. I will mail off the letters, send my second book to a publisher, open up a small office space and offer health counselling to my population of choice. But things would be so much easier and move so much faster if I could just shake this fear and step out of my shell. God, I couldn't imagine what I could do with the wicked combination of education, experience AND attitude!

Does fear relate to health (in keeping with the Real Life Health theme)? You bet it does. Fear holds us back from doing what we truly want to do and be. Fear keeps us in relationships we don't want to be in and jobs we can't stand. Fear stops us from saying what we really want to say and, ultimately, fear gets in the way of achieving personal greatness. Research has demonstrated that happiness is linked to good health (and sadness, depression, stress, and anger is linked to chronic illness) you bet your sweet bum fear relates to health!

...and I'm one step closer to kicking my fear's sweet ass to the curb! (........once I clean the house and finish this really great novel I'm reading).


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