Fear is Essential to Growth!

I remember hearing Dr. John Townsend talk about a man he knew who made sure he did something every day that stirred fear in him. He wasn’t looking just to be frightened, not like telling ghost stories, but doing something that put him outside of his comfort zone. Lately, I am noticing that nearly every day I feel fear. I am taking strides to increase the ripples of my work. I genuinely want to help more people than I currently am. Since February I have been working on some secret goals. Someday I’ll tell you what they are, but not yet. I bump up repeatedly against a part of me that is scared out of her pants! Sometimes I freak out and talk myself out of going for it. I’ll say things like, “You can’t do this.” “Who do you think you are?” “No one is going to like it.” And a variety of other lovely self-sabatoging statements. Right now, I’m giggling because I know they are ridiculous. Sure, they could be true but I’m not going to let that stop me because I won’t know if they are true if I don’t try. I would rather go for it and fail than not try at all. At the end of the day, or the end of the self-sabatoge session, I get back to a place of peace knowing I want to go for it despite the risks of failure.
What are you afraid to do? Why? With whom can you talk about your fears? If I tried to go through this experience alone, I’d be a mess! We all need trusted people who can sit with us as we go through life. We especially need them when we want to grow!

Do You Worry About What Others Think of You?

Ending the practice of worrying about what others think of you is much easier said than done. I could tell you to stop worrying because it doesn’t serve you, but the next time you want to speak up at a meeting or present an idea or simply be heard, you will revert back to your old way of thinking (to worry about what others think) because this action is deeply entrenched in the neural pathways in your brain. The “worry” reaction now feels like an instinct for you. This likely stems from an event or a collection of experiences in your childhood that essentially sent you a message that you are not enough. If you believed the opposite, that you are enough, you would not be bothered by what others think of you because you wouldn’t have the need to prove you are enough. If the words that come out of your mouth aren’t earth shattering or no one likes your idea, you would be fine because your worth and value aren’t tied to how others define you.
A few steps you can take to change:

  1. Do the deep work of figuring out where the “I’m not enough” belief came from. It may have been spoken directly to you or you assumed the meaning. Replay the memories and tell yourself you are enough. (This practice may require the help of a therapist if the memories are non-existent or cause you emotional or mental distress. Attachment-based approaches, Emotionally Focused Therapy and EMDR are powerful methods for transforming negative messages from past experiences into positive ones.)
  2. Remind yourself that you are enough when you feel the exact opposite. For awhile you will continue to worry about what others think of you. Over time, as you continually refocus your mind on “I am enough” you will diminish the voice of the “I am not enough” neural pathway in your brain.
  3. Invite some friends you can be real with (who probably have their own “I’m not enough” issues) to join you. We heal most profoundly when we are on the journey with trusted friends. Share your experiences with each other and remind one another that you are enough.

This seems so simple when presented in black and white. The reality of this journey is it took a long time to solidify the negative belief, it’s going to take a long time, filled with intention, to change it. The journey is so worth it! Stay in there!

Getting out of the Comparison Trap

We live in an image conscious society. We compare ourselves constantly to others in every area of our life: work, social status, appearance, competence and stuff. No matter what we are doing we can find a place to compare ourselves to someone or even something else. The act of comparing generally leaves us on the short end of the stick. We see ourselves as “less than.” Sometimes we compare to feel better about ourselves. We find someone who is definitely worse off and realize we don’t have it as bad as “they” do. Either way, comparing puts us on thin ice.
When we compare we are looking for some kind of validation for ourselves. The problem is the validation is coming from outside of us, it’s not always accurate and we generally don’t stack up well.
If we’re looking to the outside for support or validation and get it, we feel good about ourselves. If we look at others and don’t get validated, we feel bad. Neither is beneficial. The best way to deal with comparing is to STOP. Whenever you notice you are doing it, say the word stop to yourself. Next, remind yourself that comparing is not going to benefit you. Ask what you think about yourself in that area.
Let’s say it’s your body. You see someone who looks better than you. Remind yourself that it won’t be helpful if you compare yourself to this person (which would result in feeling bad about yourself) or someone who you don’t think looks as good (which would lead to feeling better). What do you think about your body? Notice the parts you like and state why. Notice the parts you don’t like and state why. Do you have control to change the negative parts, like exercise or eating healthier? Sometimes not liking something creates a catalyst to make a change. As you think about the changes and what it would take to get there, do you want to put in the work? You might decide the work isn’t worth it and you accept yourself as is.
You can translate this same process to any area where you compare yourself to others. Practice accepting yourself or your situation, change what you can or want to, let go of what you can’t or don’t want to.

Are You Worth A Million?

My maternal great-grandfather, John Saxe Headley valued his children. So much so he wrote about them in an editorial for his newspaper, The Hutchinson Herald in Menno, SD back in the early 1900’s. He viewed each one of his nine children as a million dollars. He saw himself as a millionaire nine times over! His bank account didn’t reflect it, but his mind and heart did. I never knew my great-grandpa John but I have a feeling if I did I would have felt really good about myself after being with him.
Do you have people in your life who believe in you? People who see your value? When we don’t experience being valued simply because we exist it can really mess with us. Some follow unproductive paths, flailing from job to job never quite feeling enough. Some excel excessively trying to prove they are worth something but somehow never satisfying that emptiness inside. No amount of accolades or bank account balances seems to be enough. All are scattered around the continuum but few find themselves in the balanced spot in the middle.
One of the best methods I know that can help you heal in this area is a Process Group. It’s like group counseling but better. Through the careful facilitation of an effective coach/counselor/therapist, a Process Group gets deep at the heart of what’s holding you back and getting in the way of moving forward in your life. Wounds that feel like holes in your soul are filled and healed through the group members. Taking in the ingredients you didn’t get while growing up helps you live a healthier more satisfying life. You just might hear, “You’re worth a million!”