Dear Fear, Let’s Get Intimate

I spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about fear. It was a really busy week full of next steps toward the big shift that is currently happening in my life (yes, I will be announcing this soon 😉 ) and I felt some anxiety building inside of me. A combination of excitement, gratitude, self-expectation, overwhelm, and about 25 other emotions have washed over me repeatedly over the last number of days. The kind of mix of emotions that sometimes leaves me feeling a little paralyzed, not knowing if I feel like I am on the verge of tears, or the verge of shouting with joy. I meditated more in the past week than I probably have in the past month. I prayed so many times that I would run out of fingers if I had to count. I felt knots in my stomach and shortness of breath, as my mind raced around the million things I needed to do to make these next steps into my future a “success.” And you know what really got me thinking amidst all of this… a podcast.

I listened to a really moving episode this week on one of my favorite podcasts, Mind Pump: Raw Fitness Truth. It was with Kristen Ulmer, author of The Art of Fear: Why Conquering Fear Won’t Work and What to Do Instead, and it brought so many thoughts rushing to the forefront of my mind. She emphasized the importance of digging deep to face our fears, connect with our fears, get intimate with our fears. Meditation, prayer, the perfect run in the sunshine or the frothiest latte you’ve ever sipped, all help to band-aid fear, but they never fully heal our issues. These things make us feel better and absolutely have an important role in one’s mindfulness practice, but they don’t actually bring us deep into our fears.

To add to my mental processing of fear, the sermon at Substance Church this morning was all about turning our fears over to God. It was like the Lord put that sermon right smack in front of my face with a flashing neon sign that read “you need this!” I walked out of church and thought, “yep, I need to put my thoughts to paper.” I debated sharing these words earlier this weekend, but thought, “No, Reed, no need to be THAT real, raw and honest. People look up to you for your strength, positivity and ability to motivate, so what in the heck will they think if they realize you crack sometimes, just like they do?” AH HA!! There it is. Hello fear. Thanks for revealing yourself.

Hmmmm ok, so I have an issue with perfection. Funny issue to have because cognitively, we all know that perfection is impossible. Only God is perfect. Fun life chasing something you can’t ever achieve. That will certainly leave you feeling fulfilled… ha.

This is something I have struggled with from a VERY young age. It has manifested itself in many different ways, but has consistently shown itself in my academic and career life. I can always do more. I can always be smarter. I can always climb the next rung on the ladder. I can always… take that one step closer to perfection. The fear based side of perfection is a fear of failure. A fear of falling flat on your face. Which is interesting, because I’ve definitely done that before and it never stopped me from getting back up, yet I still chase perfection. So the question becomes, how can I recognize the times I’ve fallen flat and use that to inspire a shift in my perspective. Ooh, I just gave myself some emotional homework 😉

And here’s the bigger thing… I don’t entirely want to erase my desire to do more, do better and be better, because that is much of what contributes to the things I accomplish. Kristen mentioned something in the podcast that really stuck with me… as she counsels professional athletes, business executives and the like, she mentioned that she never tries to entirely erase the fear from her clients, because the fear is often one of their greatest motivators. It is what compels them to be at the utmost of their game. Eeks, ok so do we have to swim in fear to be successful? No. We have to find a way to harness our fear, become intimate with it and know it so deeply that we can use it to our advantage. You know the feeling before you step on stage for a performance, stand up in the board room to give a presentation, or see the clock about to start ticking on a sporting event you are playing in, and your palms get a little sweaty, your breath quickens, you have to pee 3 times in a 60 minute window and a small part of you wishes you could run out the door? That bit of fear gives you the edge to do your best. The edge to “turn on” and find your flow state.

The challenge is when we let our fear spill into all corners of our life and it no longer gives us the edge, but rather holds us back from being our best self. I’m not saying you need fear to be your best self, but I am saying that if you deal with any form of fear (news flash… we’re humans, we all do) there is power in learning to leverage it. And one of the most critical steps in learning to do that, is both understanding your fear and turning it over to God. So I’m working on both of these 🙂 Feel free to join me in this fear journey. I’d say this is guaranteed to be an iterative process, but I’ll start my journey with this quote from Molly Galbraith, because no truer words have ever been read by this self-professed soul with a fear of failure.