Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking at a meeting of the American Business Women’s Association about my 5-week solo road trip described in “How I Won the West: A Journey of Discovery”. During the Q&A a woman said she would love to take a similar trip but would be too afraid.
Because I have heard similar comments both before and after my trip, I would like to offer my take on this thing called Fear.
Thomas Rudledge, a Psychotherapist said “Fear is an essential part of our nature, installed in our DNA, no doubt for good reason.”
The title for this 3-part series was chosen to emphasize the fact that I too believe that fear has a place. In all of us.
So, how do we put Fear in its proper place so that we can live life to the fullest?
Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. said, “the more we look these uninvited guests in the eye, with patience and curiosity, and the more we learn to spot their wisdom as well as their mischief, the less grip they will have on us.”
This a story of how, after half a lifetime dealing with fear, I finally looked fear in the eye and loosened the grip it had on me. Today, I am even selective about which fear is allowed in my space. Some are constant companions, alerting me to danger, or nudging me out of my comfort zone toward personal growth. Others, that threaten to keep me from living a full life, such as fear of the unknown or fear of traveling solo, simply get the boot.
Steps to Loosen the Grip of Fear:
1. ACKNOWLEDGE FEAR.
After years of trying to ignore fear hoping it would go away, I finally acknowledged that fear would always be a part of my life and I had to learn to live with it.
2. LIVING WITH FEAR.
Find your incentive, your motivation. Mine was a strong desire to live a life of adventure through travel and new discoveries. Writer Ambrose Redmoon understood this when he said “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important.” Find that “more important” something in your life.
3. STEP OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONE.
Each time we step out of our comfort zone, we put fear in its place. Another reward is that new doors open. Years ago, a colleague asked me to help her present teaching seminars to her clients. I said YES even though the thought of speaking in public for the first time was terrifying. That YES eventually led to an incredible new path in my career. To this day I say YES as often as possible and new doors continue to open.
Tomorrow, Part II will describe how during my road trip I constantly made one of two choices concerning fear: to step into fear with joy and anticipation, or turn away from fear without angst or guilt.