by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
If I could go back in time to speak to myself in my youth, or, if there’s one thing I could say to those remaining after I’m gone, the message would be, “Don’t waste your time being afraid.”
Fear has been the one internal opponent that has slowed me down, held me back, or blocked my ideas and actions. Not external obstacles or misfortunes, but this inner voice of anxiety.
In the past 2 years, I’ve started living Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice to do something everyday that scares me. I’ve learned it’s liberating to challenge myself to experience new things, ideas or experiences, or go for higher, different goals as a way to grow my courage overall.
But I’ve also learned that getting to the root of fear is hugely important.
The inner energy of my intent or feeling while taking action makes a powerful impact on the outcome.
It is important to act. Yes, do that.
But go deeper. Look at that fear. Deal with that emotion. Get to the core of it. Spell it out. Analyze it. Ask yourself what you’re afraid of.
Once you get to the root of that fear and dissect it, you find clarity. When you see clearly what your fear is based on, you can use reason to counter each fear.
Let’s use an example:
I’m launching my new online business. This new venture requires that I learn things I’ve never done. That alone has caused me fear.
But when I look at that fear through the lens of reason, I find it’s absolutely reasonable to feel fear simply because this is a new experience for me. Things we haven’t challenged before often naturally make us anxious.
This helps me see my fear as normal for my situation. This viewpoint relaxes me and diminishes my fear. I feel calmer and a bit proud that I’m pushing myself into new things and beyond my comfort zone.
One way to decrease fear is to acknowledge your courage in taking on new endeavors, in pushing yourself to feel the fear and take action anyway. It’s important to take a moment to celebrate that kind of victory. Celebrations of personal accomplishment are also a strong deterrent to feeling fearful!
As a new entrepreneur, and a highly sensitive person with OCD tendencies, I have many things that make me feel anxious. I start a cascade of inner questions to myself:
As a new business owner, the stress can seem relentless and unending. But by getting all my worries in focus in front of me, I can begin to break things down into a clear plan with my critical priorities mapped out.
I'm learning that having all my fears written down allows me a chance to face each one and brainstorm a solution for it. Next, I brainstorm ideas for a contingency plan in case my first solution doesn't work or something else happens to derail it. Sometimes this process enlightens me to a need to re-prioritize or shift my plans to accommodate additional issues and/or time.
Keeping my daily plan and inner intent in line with these priorities allows my mind to find ease, knowing I’m actively addressing everything necessary for reaching my goals. One of the most powerful anecdotes to any fear is taking concrete action. Taking action based on a plan through which I've faced my fears puts me back in the driver's seat of my life and my business success.
How To Get Back Up After A Failure
But, yes, sometimes I flat-out fail to reach goals. Or, I get out of rhythm with my priorities. Sometimes, I start spiraling into a downward stress mode where insomnia rears its head. I get run-down, and out of whack.
Yes, other personal, family or health issues distract my focus or throw me for a loop. I’m human.
When any of this happens--and things will happen--I get back to self-care basics. I refresh my determination. I refresh my determination again. And again. I go back to review my fears and center myself on my values.
As an entrepreneur, and hell, as a human being, I’m learning that it’s not a straight line to happiness and success. Rather, it’s a dramatic, magnificent drama with these crazy, off-the-beaten-path excursions, unexpected adventures, and hurdles that appear from out of nowhere. It’s heavy storms and strong gales of unforeseen problems that completely drench and knock me down into the sloppy mud.
That’s the story.
That’s the part of life that creates the dynamic arch of climactic engagement. It’s also the fuel for catalytic flow to unleash new, fresh, robust, colorful creative juice that leads to a view of an amazing, vast vista.
That new vista is a vision of your joyful fulfillment and the start of a new chapter for previously unimaginable victories.
But, this up-and-down, twisty, turning story cannot emerge without dealing head-on with fear, or without hitting plateaus of illusive limitations that cause you to rear back or stop dead in your tracks.
These obstacles force you to take three steps back, like the lion prepares an attack on his prey, to regroup. Assess. Take care of your inner world. Do whatever you need to refresh yourself and rebuild your inner fortitude.
Then, you may lunge forward, with all your might. That momentum gained from ripping out each fear by their roots will propel you forward in a way that you’ve not experienced until this moment.
Fear makes you face your problems to break through your self-imposed limitations so you may unleash your massive, unlimited, creative, beautiful human potential.
Fear makes you better yourself, both for your own happiness and for others in your life.
I’m learning that for every negative emotion, problem or experience, there is a positive. A way to convert whatever it is into value, inner strength and a source for deeper personal growth and wider progress.
It all goes back to nurturing creativity and inspiration, based on self-care. When we truly do the things that are beneficial for ourselves, we spur positive health, creative energy and the inner qualities we need to improve ourselves and for others.
How Dealing With Your Fear Buoys Your Success
That’s why I’m becoming grateful for my bouts with fear.
After wholeheartedly, directly wrestling with my fear, I find that interaction miraculously morphs into a kind of bearhug, leading me to a moment of gratitude.
This shift is an amazing metamorphosis that allows me a more informed view of my true self and my situation. I feel a burst of powerful confidence, with the strength to go after my goals with clear action.
This mood change propels the reach of my actions. The energy behind my actions grows more confident, joyful, compassionate, deliberate and resilient.
This personal development process reveals how dealing with fear buoys powerful action toward success and growth.
When you see fear as a part of your necessary growth process, it has the potential to be your friend. Fear becomes your guiding voice of wisdom to do the things you must do for a richer, happier life.
So let’s embrace our fears. Addressing our fear is the way to successful, enlightened living.
How To Decrease Your Anxiety & Live More Mindfully; An Empathetic Perfectionist Helps You Balance Your Life
GET YOUR FREE COPY OF Dr. Tara Sanderson’s book, Too Much, Not Enough A guide to decreasing anxiety and finding balance through intentional choices!
A Book Review
By Jenny Leigh Hodgins
In sync with my constant quest for more inspiration, creativity hacks and self-care strategies, I recently read Dr. Tara Sanderson’s new ebook, Too Much, Not Enough A guide to decreasing anxiety and finding balance through intentional choices. The book title captured my attention as something that would fit in with my current journey toward being more mindful.
I’m always open to new, positive ways to transform negative self-talk, doubt and fear. Aren’t you? So, along with adding meditations to my morning Buddhist chanting and exercise routines, I eagerly read through Sanderson’s book.
I was looking for tips or practices that could help me and TEAM YCC (YourCreativeChord, aka, you) deal with life’s inevitable challenges, that little inner critic, ways to improve rapport within relationships, and smooth out my perfectionist, overachieving tendencies. I found all these in Sanderson’s book and more.
The author begins and continues through to the last page of the book with blatant personal transparency, laying out intimate details of her personal struggles in a way that is immediately disarming. Her willingness to show her own vulnerability through every step of the way puts the reader at ease on the level field of humanity with this credentialed new author.
Sanderson is a “Licensed Psychologist, Author, and Clinical Supervisor in Oregon.” For more than 20 years, she has been “helping people learn the skills to live their best lives. Using tools from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Mindfulness, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy, she specializes in working with clients who struggle with Perfectionism, Overachieving, Anxiety, and Depression. (from her website, https://www.drtarasanderson.com )
Sanderson dives right in to the core of issues. She shares inner feelings and life scenarios that are readily relatable. Though that may be awkward or troubling to note, she brings her wisdom and random humorous anecdotes just in the nick of time, comforting us enough to keep digging. She gently urges us to see that the big reward of continuing to sit through that discomfort, and along with it, grieve “the loss of our expectations” is that “experiencing difficult emotions makes us present.”
Sanderson’s advice resonates deeply with the benefit of practicing mindfulness; being present, sitting still with our thoughts and negative feelings. We learn that the more we sit with our discomfort, the more we can tune in to ourselves and what we need to transform our feelings and/or situation.
Just when we begin to feel what is most painful about ourselves, and as if she’s reading our minds that we want to walk away from this, Sanderson chimes in that “Broken-ness doesn’t have to be life ending. It can be a new beginning with a history,” bringing us peace of mind that we are okay despite our fragments and broken hearts.
She gives tools and reminders that our future has the hope of becoming a rich story based precisely on our struggles and endings, followed by new chapters of beginnings with our growing resilience that will come from doing the work Sanderson suggests we undertake.
She offers encouragement with the tools she practices professionally, such as reframing our situation or ourselves to see more options available to us than the extreme black and white areas of life that we often get stuck between. As an example, she doesn’t tell “clients they’re going to be a gold-laden bowl in 2 weeks. I am telling them we are ready to start picking up the pieces.”
She gently explains, “Sometimes we need to be broken in order to move forward in a new and different way. Brokenness isn’t final. It’s a thing that happens and we decide how to move on from it.”
Her soft power approach coaxes away the fears of endings or weaknesses, allowing the reader to breathe through the process of personal development. Sanderson’s professional skills come through her book, without overtly flashing those credentials in the reader’s face.
She walks us through various real-life scenarios, interspersing humor into her unadorned initial responses to paint a relatable picture of a problem state. She gets the reader down in the trenches of the typical emotional state of an overachiever, until we feel that problem or it brings up something parallel in our lives.
For those dealing with anxiety, Sanderson’s guiding voice compels the reader to let go of extremes to see the gray areas of life, and with those, the opportunities for releasing fears and finding hope. As a person with tendencies toward anxiety, I relaxed my brain to embrace her reminders that life is full of options, is never truly black and white, and that decision-making is a process that is not final. This may seem obvious to non-perfectionists. But Sanderson clearly speaks to her tribe.
A critical chapter in the book is for those from dysfunctional backgrounds who haven’t learned the art of training others to respect personal boundaries. Sanderson covers the issue of setting boundaries with the heart of a poet, reminding us of how important it is to treasure ourselves, and to teach others how to treasure our lives, too,
“Recognize your worth. You are a gift. When you have something valuable where do you keep it? You are valuable. You don’t just hand over your heart, your mind, your soul to whoever comes around. You keep it safe until you trust them. You deserve to be protected from those who might ignore your boundaries.”
This is where Sanderson segues into the importance of self-care as an important way of assuring we have enough to live our best lives. One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “Self-care is less about the value of the person and more about the fullness of the cup.”
Sanderson’s book shows us how critical it is to find ways to take care of ourselves, whether that’s solitude, listening to or playing music, exercising, spending time in nature, hanging out with friends or family, prayer, or good food. Sanderson makes it okay to treat yourself in the name of bringing your best to the situation and the people in your life.
Sanderson walks you through various situations that typically provoke negative emotions or friction within relationships. She voices the common responses that tend toward extremes of black and white options, then eases the reader to acknowledge a wealth of in-betweens that could be used to transform mindset, perspective, and ultimately the relationship or situation.
She brings the reader to an understanding that victim mentality is flimsy but taking full responsibility for one’s choices is empowering. She says, “Love it or change it,” working through potential negative feelings step by step to uncover alternative options that are feasible, and in bite-sized chunks that seem palatable.
The author guides you through levels of anxiety or knee-jerk reactions to find a space within your mind where you may practice new, healthier techniques. Sanderson reminds those of us who are anxiety-prone that our choices are valid and trustworthy. Even if rusty, shaky, or completely new to healthy, mindful practices, she offers you manageable methods for dealing with internal struggle, and leads you to create new habits of self-talk, communication with others, and the tools to find reasonable outcomes for challenging circumstances.
Sanderson, being a perfectionist, overachiever herself, knows the path to anxiety well enough to anticipate the typical objections from one anxious person to another. She repeatedly, gently and often humorously reminds the reader that these kinds of behavioral or life changes require time to acquire and practice to master.
In her words, “Being changeable is a good start, but making the change is another thing altogether. To make a change, we need another skill; we need to be willing to practice. We need to be willing to fail until we get it right.”
Welcoming failure as part of the legitimacy of practicing toward mastery is not an easy concept for the perfectionist. But Sanderson is always one step ahead, offering comfort and cheering you on through the process. Getting support and guidance from someone who is not only credentialed in the science of behavior and psychology, but more importantly—to many of us anxiety-ridden folks--knows that darkness from within her own mind, is just what it takes to gain the golden egg of trust.
If you’re someone who tends toward worrying, depression, OCD habits, or self-doubt, Sanderson’s book has the stuff to sway you to believe in your ability to make intentional choices that lead to a healthier, satisfying way of life. She knows you want to do everything yourself, yet need some help sometimes. Sanderson’s book is a strategy for you to learn how to believe in yourself, your capacity for handling everything you feel you must.
More than this, Sanderson brings you to find hope. For all who worry or doubt, including Sanderson herself, she knows, “Hope is a nightlight for our soul.”
Dr. Tara Sanderson’s book is FREE for 5 days starting TODAY, September 10, 2019! Get your copy Here!
Find Dr. Tara Sanderson at: DrTaraSanderson.com
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Also connect with YourCreativeChord on:
Why Should You Dream Too Big & Harness Your Powerful Imagination?
Defeat Fear & Doubt with Your Courage & Capability
How To Deflect Negativity To Become Happier
Believing In The Positive
My Top Tips For Winning Over Your Insomnia
How To Live A Life of Joyful Creativity
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In my INSPIRATION blogs, you’ll find ways to overcome obstacles, reach goals, and experience more joy in the moment with spiritual awareness and inner transformation.