This is my story about my fight with fear and how I overcame my personal demons. I share the same time-tested strategies I use with my coaching clients to quickly re-center my racing thoughts and feelings allowing me to focus on what is truly important.
One morning, on the dawn of a potentially business-changing event, I woke up riddled with doubt and something else. It’s normal to have bouts of doubts. But, as a productive, well-adjusted adult I have coping skills that quickly move me past run-of-the-mill fears and doubts. But, this time was different. I was feeling titanic depths of fear. I could breathe, I could think, I wasn’t sweating, my heart wasn’t racing, so I know it wasn’t an anxiety attack (I’m blessed to have never suffered one but I have those near and dear that suffer greatly). But, it was fear. Big, very ugly, fear. And it was trying to overcome me.
Fear? Fear of what? This was new to me, especially in the business realm. Anything business is my comfort zone. I know how to move in and around business. I live, eat and breathe business. I recognize that doubt and fear cloud your judgment and gets in your way of achieving your dreams. I also know if I allowed indecision to get in my way it would be my ultimate downfall. So I asked myself the same 3 questions I coach others when they express feeling fearful, “What’s different? What’s being said in your head? What’s the worse that could happen?” Beyond the questions though is the action I took that I always recommend others take when faced with inner demons. But, first, let’s dissect those questions:
- What’s different? I looked at my last 24-48 hours to see if anything was different. Oh, yes. I had traveled to attend a business conference within driving distance to where my 18-year-old daughter attends college, 2,300 miles away from home. So, we spent the day before the conference shopping. First, I’m NOT a fan of shopping, but I AM a fan of my daughter. Second, she’s at the age where I am, well, an obstacle to her enjoying life, her way. As I result, I felt very ineffective and sadly, she projected it, too. Once I identified that I could feel clarity knocking on my hotel room door.
- What’s being said-in-my-head? Without resurrecting the now put-to-rest fears, let’s just say my feeling inadequate the day before obviously stirred some gnarly things back to life that had been said to me some time ago. Once I identified them, I countered each and every one of them with, “That’s not the truth. Here’s the truth…” Peace joined clarity and both were knocking on my hotel room door.
- What’s the worse that could happen? I scribbled a few worst-case scenarios on paper and realized that all of them, some definitely not pretty, could be overcome. Even my worst option, “the business could fold” (followed by the very important detail of identifying the feelings: embarrassment and shame), wasn’t life-ending. I’d just have to get a job or start another business! Once you address your biggest fear it loses its power. Now, clarity and peace joined hands with me and I walked out of the hotel lobby with a spring in my step, my face to the sky and a smile on my face.
But, the biggest part of overcoming fear and keeping it at bay is to do something, anything different and new. And you always start small. So, I downloaded the Uber app and hailed an Uber. If I was home, perhaps I would have finally scrubbed the face of the iron till it shone like new. If I was at work, I would have replaced the old rope cord that operates the warehouse bay doors. Then I initiated meaningful conversations (e.g.: potential revenue generating conversations) at the business conference. When I returned to my hotel room, later that day, I pulled up Excel on my laptop and mastered a few formulas that had been plaguing me for months. Fear demons slayed, dead and buried. Notice I didn’t say go on-line and watch cute kitten videos or watch a good movie. Passive activity feeds demons. You need to engage your brain to scrub them out of your head. Brain science has proven passive screen watching is very detrimental to your brain, your eating and sleeping habits, and your mood, not to mention it’s a big time waster. Heroes, warriors, champions, and go-getters (you know, us entrepreneurs!) don’t sit around and watch the screen, any screen.
BONUS: Another secret to slaying those demons? Compliment everybody. Say something nice to every person you cross paths with. ALL. DAY. LONG. What happens is almost transcendent. You’ll find yourself looking for people to say something nice to and looking for something in them that is unique. It’s really a nice diversion from those gnarly demons. If your demons go deep, volunteer at a shelter of your choice. Food, animal, anything to serve others. Volunteer every day if you have to. Serve during your lunch hour. Stop after work. Demons die of boredom when you serve and love up others. If you can’t find something nice to say to every person you meet in your day, or you get annoyed at the thought of doing this then the demons have a stronghold on you. Time to take back your thought life. And apologize to those that work and live with you.
I hope you slay your fear and doubt demons. Because that’s what they are, demons, also known as “the enemy.” Demons suck the very life out of what makes you special and unique. When you become less they loom large. They love it when you spend time with them. When you wallow in their darkness they get larger than (your) life preventing you from living a full and happy life. Take back your awesomeness, specialness, and uniqueness and turn-your-back-on those gnarly demons. Live, love and serve. That will put them where they belong. Away from your heart, mind, and soul.
Do you have a way of getting rid of your demons? Please share, below. It’s a great way to serve others. As always, please be considerate and make your comments family-friendly.
Live, love, serve.