Almost immediately upon starting the book, a huge realization hit me - I have a ton of fears! Practically with each page - and I'm not exaggerating, I've dog-eared and underlined the parts I feel most important and there are a ton of them - I learned a bit more about myself and my misinterpreted fears. One of the biggest eye openers was my growing ability to see that fear was the stimulus behind so many actions or inactions in my life. From things as simple as my inability to look some people in the eye (out of being self-conscious, not out of being untruthful) to rather important decisions about my business, fear was inhibiting me probably daily. Furthermore, I could pinpoint a few reoccurring themes. I created a list of those that were becoming most obvious and prevalent.
The list includes:
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of failure - by my standards or those of others
- Fear of not knowing how to handle a situation (such as the outcome of a decision if it doesn't work out as I'd hoped).*
- Fear of fear/anxiety itself - yes, that's right, I realized that sometimes I actually stop myself from doing things because I am afraid "what if I put myself in this situation and then I'm afraid or anxious." This is tied to the fear of not handling a situation.
- Fear of embarrassment - I assume is tied to the fear of failure and rejection. This sounds silly, but it's a big one for me.
In the book, Jeffers challenges the reader to do one thing every day that they are afraid of. Most days, this will be something small - someone must live an extraordinary life to be able to conquer monumental fears every day. Some days, this might simply be something that makes you a bit nervous or anxious, rather than something you can identify as an obvious fear. Take my "looking people in the eyes" example - I don't necessarily know why I'm afraid of it, it just is difficult for me and makes me uncomfortable. For many people, this seems like nothing at all. For me, who is otherwise in no way a shy person, this can be very difficult at times. So I'm making a concerted effort to look people in the eyes and initiate a "hi", and I'm focusing on those people that, for whatever reason, I normally have a hard time doing this with. The more I work at this, the more it will become second nature.
I'll round out this very long blog by extending that challenge. I've already done so in my Mood Disorders Support System group on Facebook and I'll do so further in this blog. Join me in tackling one fear a day, every day. If you have a specific fear you want to overcome, feel free to share it - often other readers have experienced something similar, and they may be a great source of suggestions and advice from personal experience. If it's a larger fear, break it up into smaller actions or decisions and work on one of those each day. Just as you wouldn't start your running regime by signing up for a half marathon, I don't suggest working on your fears by taking on a monster of a fear first - start small and build up your courage.
Finally, my personal disclaimer - I'm not telling anyone to do anything overtly dangerous or life threatening. If your fear is base jumping, I'm not telling you to run out and do that. I'm focused more on those day to day fears that hold you back, that you may not even realize before you start this exercise. We are also sharing these challenges in the Facebook group on a regular basis, so feel free to join - it's a wonderfully supportive group and the more, the merrier!