All of us come face to face with tasks or choices we feel anxious or fearful about, that perhaps stop us in our tracks. Here’s something you can do to empower your way past them.
Maybe you’ve been in this uncomfortable place: There’s something you need to do or know you should do, or a choice to make, but you hesitate or outright resist it because you’re scared. Likely, the primary thing you’re scared of is being scared. We resist feeling scared because we believe it’s wrong to feel that way; that if we do feel that way, then something must be wrong with or lacking in us. And if something is wrong with or lacking in us, we’re bound to mess up; so we’d prefer to avoid the matter entirely, rather than address the cause of the fearful or anxious feeling.
This involves a number of other fears, as well: Being embarrassed, thought less of, or humiliated (including about feeling scared, even though everyone feels scared at times). Who wants to willingly volunteer for THAT kind of experience?! We may also be scared about the outcome, or scared about what might or will be required of us after we make a choice.
What’s listed here, or any similar concerns you may think of, seem like pretty good reasons (to our ego-aspect) to avoid any or all action, which includes making choices, so we might avoid the thing or things we fear might happen, or might prove “true” about us, or the feelings that are unwanted. But, then a whole other set of thoughts and feelings happen as a result of avoidance, don’t they? And these can feel even worse than the ones we initially feared.
What can you do about this? You can have this conversation with yourself: “Even though I feel fear or anxiety about this matter, is there anything or anyone, including my well-being, involved here that I truly or deeply care about? If my answer is yes, is the care stronger than the scare?”
We get caught up in or blocked by the scare aspect and miss the important care aspect. A strong level of care is a powerful motivator. More care than scare creates different feelings in you, empowering feelings or, at least, intention and commitment. These two questions can help you identify your level of care or investment, or identify what is and is not appropriate for you.
If or when you find there is something or someone you care about more than you’re scared about regarding a particular matter, including care about you, you’ll find it far easier to figure out a right action (or next step) and to take it, than you could imagine while being in scared-mode only. It’s even possible that nothing will stop you from taking right action, not even fear, if your level of care is deep enough.
When you care enough about something or someone, including yourself, you may find that you won’t feel good about yourself unless or until you take a right action, whatever else happens. Theodore Roosevelt said: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Although, those who practice spirituality or metaphysics would offer that there are times when it’s best to do nothing until you are clear about what you must or choose to do. And, you can always do something at the inner level.
When you identify with something you really care about regarding a person, yourself, or a specific matter, you do what needs to be done. You find the will and the way. And if you feel nervous or anxious, you do it anyway. You can do things that scare you and release most or all of your fear about doing it whenever the real or potential greater needs of another (or your needs) are put before your need to not feel scared. Notice I didn’t say to put others’ needs before yours, but before your need to avoid feeling fearful or anxious.
This Q&A with your self is intended to reveal head-and-heart alignment about your level of care as the result of the questions, not so you convince yourself that you “should” do something that you’re not in alignment with. You serve no one if your choice or chosen action invalidates or fragments you in any real way; and only you can know this about yourself.
Decades back, I went to a monthly meeting that was held in a fair-size room, though attendance was usually 10 to 15 people. I walked in and saw about 100 chairs positioned in a semi-circle across from a table with 3 chairs behind it. The 100 chairs were filling fast, and I wondered what was going on. The director approached me and said, “Thank goodness you’re here. I planned a 3-person panel today, and one of them can’t make it. Would you please take her place?” It was about two minutes to start-time. There was no time for me to do any kind of real preparation. But she needed a third person and believed my perspective would contribute to the dialogues she hoped would happen.
It was an adoption triad meeting, meaning attendees included anyone in a relationship with an adoptee, was an adoptee, had adopted, or was a birth parent or birth family member. At that time I was married to an adoptee who’d decided to search, or rather had asked me to do the search because of his fears about it. The director asked me to speak about this.
I took my seat at the table and looked around the room. The realization that at least one person there probably needed to hear what I would say pushed most of my fear out of the picture. I’d speak about what I knew, based on my experiences, and hope that it benefitted someone.
The other two speakers went before me, and they each received one or two questions from attendees. Then it was my turn; and with no notes to assist me, I shared what I felt were the relevant parts of my story that they might appreciate hearing. I got lots of questions; and after the meeting, one man said it was as though I had repeated his story, that I had expressed how he, as an adoptee, felt.
I could have let my scare outweigh my care that day and refused the director’s request to be on the panel, because the thought of public speaking made me nervous, not to mention my concern that they wouldn’t like what I said or that I’d do a bad job of it. Putting care before scare allowed me to contribute something of value and make a difference for others.
How many ways might you make a positive difference in your personal, professional, or vocational life if the care outweighed the scare? What kind of difference might you experience at the inner level because of this? How might how you feel about you be different? How might your life be different?
Many times care vs. scare does involve others, but it always involves you. You are the constant in your life and experiences. The next time you face a task or choice that you feel anxious or fearful about, ask yourself if there’s anything or anyone involved, including you, which causes the care aspect to be stronger than the scare aspect. If there is, or if there isn’t, let this fuel your motivation to right choices and right actions, and always in ways validating and appropriate for you. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer