A Coaching Power Tool By Lydia Cloos, Life Coach, COSTA RICA
How Do You Know If You’re Faithful vs. Fearful?
Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process might be the bravest thing that we will ever do. Brené Brown
In a fast-paced world, we all struggle to keep it up sometimes. Keeping it up with a good work-life balance, chasing our dreams, with our social life, with our duties and joys, sorrows and pleasures. When life is being full-on, it can be challenging to navigate and understand what matters to us (and why that is so). Within that, when people or things request our attention, when we are less connected to the self, when we are rushed, pushed, hurried, or drained, we can lose perspective of what is important to us, what is driving us, and how we take good care of ourselves.
Our value and belief systems may become twisted, left aside, or even forgotten. What may follow is a misalignment of our values and actions/lifestyle choices that create a constant feeling of discontent and even disconnection. Many people may have experienced such a state of mind in their life before, but how then can we be loyal and connected to ourselves even in busy and demanding times?
Faithful vs. Fearful Definitions
When we think about the word faithfulness, what comes to mind for many people is a spiritual meaning. Others may think of a faithful partner or friend.
I’d like to explain faithfulness in this context based on the following definitions:
- “the fact or quality of being true to one’s word or commitments, as to what one has pledged to do, professes to believe, etc.” and
- “Faithfulness is the concept of unfailingly remaining loyal to someone or something and putting that loyalty into consistent practice regardless of extenuating circumstances.”
If we now have a look at “being true to one’s word or commitments and unfailingly remaining loyal to someone […] and putting that loyalty into consistent practice” could we then think of that someone as ourselves? Contrarious to the general assumptions that faithfulness is directly relatable to spouses, friends, higher entities, or things, could we be faithful to ourselves? What would that mean if we unfailingly remain loyal to ourselves and what we stand for no matter the weather? What would that feel like if we can own up for what and who we are, if we know ourselves to the deepest and if we lovingly stay faithful to ourselves?
This perspective and the lifelong journey will empower, create deeper connections with the self and influence the way people make decisions in alignment with their values and beliefs. On the interpersonal level, it shifts relationships to more authentic encounters (as people are more centered and therefore enabled to give/receive differently). When we stay loyal and faithful to ourselves, we learn and understand how to be faithful to others, too. This nourishes trust, safety, and community.
Everyone knows the feeling of fear crippeling upon us. We start experiencing fear from the very early stages of our life. Newborn fears sudden movements and loud noises, later on, foreign anxiety, toddlers develop separation anxiety and as we continue into various life stages, we will most likely experience the fear of the dark, fear of the unknown, and so on. The list is endless, and it’s important to distinguish between fear and healthy anxiety (such as fear of traffic, power tools, certain animals, etc.); healthy anxiety is a survival modus to protect us. For this research paper, we will focus on the following definition of fear:
- “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger, an instance of this emotion, a state marked by this emotion” and well as being
- frightened or worried about something”
When we are aiming toward a healthy regulation of our emotions (being in tune with ourselves and others) and understanding and ‘reading’ the world around us accurately, fear may be one of the biggest interrupters on our journey. Fear can leave us unable to act appropriately with ourselves, in social settings, and in life in general. When we are fearful, the part of our brain that is in charge of our thinking and decision-making gets impacted negatively, “leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions.”
Being fearful or in a constant state of fear can therefore hinder connection, self-reflection, and even the capacity for personal growth – when we are dealing with threats our mind is more occupied, and quite often, we can’t think clearly.
From Fearful vs. Faithful
June was a fit young woman in her end twenties. A couple of years ago she got unexpectedly pregnant. Following a tremendous shock with many worries for the future, she and her partner made peace with the situation and became joyous, and excited, and we’re looking forward to soon sharing the good news with their families. At their first ultrasound they saw the baby, but quickly realized that something was wrong – the baby’s heartbeat was missing. June’s world got shattered into pieces. A couple of weeks passed, and surgery had to follow. During the operation, June unexpectedly woke up and needed more oxygen. The easy procedure turned rough as some medical complications showed up. It took June’s body quite some time to heal and shortly after the loss she experienced physical symptoms of discomfort and trauma. She was living in the fear of not being able to trust her body anymore which had let her down so much. As things got worse, June realized how fear was impacting her health and wellbeing. When she went through counseling and coaching, she unraveled what was weighing her down and got empowered to change her perspective from fear to being faithful with herself (and her core beliefs and values) again. The first part of her journey led her to understand herself and to develop genuine compassion for her body and her story. Allowing all the pain and fear to exist, understanding where it came from and what it meant to her, enabled her to permit herself to not be on the co-driver seat anymore while fear was running the show but to slowly, intentionally take over the stirring-wheel again. June started making decisions out of trusting and being loyal to herself again – fear was no longer the driver that interrupted June’s connection with herself (including her body), but building up faith allowed her to make choices (being in action) in alignment with her values again, which furthermore led to a happier and self-determined life.
June’s story is an example of how powerful a shift from being fearful to being faithful can be – it is a game-changer. We all deal with different fears out of our life experiences (some influence us more than others), but in many cases, we will see how shifting from fearful to being faithful will enable our clients to
- Experience new agility and mobility for navigating their life (fear can be quite paralyzing in many ways)
- decision-making based on the clients’ values and core beliefs (which ultimately leads to more fulfillment and happiness)
- being in tune with their emotional state and understanding how emotions and feelings impact themselves and others
- being connected with themselves (which allows for genuine connections with other humans)
In understanding how empowering being faithful to oneself can be, how can we as coaches then support a shift from a state of being fearful to being faithful?
First and foremost, by listening to our clients and being present with them! What is the client’s body language telling you? What are the little nuances you hear in the client’s voice as they are speaking? The little nervous laughter, the big swallow…? Trust in your intuition as you are on the coaching journey with them. While we can identify fears and explore how they prevent our clients to be where they want to be or who they want to be, it is important to remember, that we are not psychologists or therapists. We don’t want to find (or deal with) childhood traumas or anything like that and should always be aware of our client’s state and their intention to be able to refer them to another professional if needed.
As we support our clients in exploring their topic/goal further, we can have in mind that fear is working against a connection with the self and others and that it is quite often affecting our decision-making and emotional status negatively. This awareness can help us to observe possible fear-driven strategies/ behaviors/thoughts within our client’s process which leads furthermore to the possibility of evoking awareness and facilitating growth. To support the change of perspective to being faithful instead of fearful, we can acknowledge our clients, encourage, celebrate their process (and progress), and guide their journey as they explore new/old strengths, support systems, beliefs, and values that will support a new connection of faithfulness to themselves.
Reflective Questions: Faithful vs. Fearful
- Have you ever been led by fear?
- How did that feel?
- How did that influence your decisions, and your relationships?
- What does being faithful to yourself mean to you?
- Are there areas in your life where you would like to shift from being fearful into being faithful?
- How will your life change if you change?
- Reflecting on one coaching session, can you think of one where the person was paralyzed by fear? What may have changed for them if they could have moved from being fearful to being faithful?
- What is your biggest takeaway from this paper?
Brene Brown: The gift of imperfection
Cambridge Dictionary: Definition of fearful
How children manage their fears
Merriam Webster Dictionary: Definition of fear
The Dictionary: Definition of Faithful
University of Minnesota: The impact of fear and anxiety
Wikipedia: Definition of Faithful