FEEL THE FEAR….AND DO IT ANYWAY. How this powerful book about overcoming fear by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. relates to coaching.
Coaching and fear. Fear is one of the main things-if not THE main thing- we will deal with when we are coaching. No matter where you come from or who you are, we’ve all experience fear on some level. Fear incapacitates is. It is a dream killer and can stop you dead in your tracks in two seconds flat. We’ve heard in coaching terms that fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real but that false evidence sure the heck feels real when you’re in its clutches. We all have a fear of something. Dictionary.com describes fear as:
- a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. Synonyms: foreboding, apprehension, consternation, dismay, dread, terror, fright, panic, horror, trepidation, qualm. Antonyms: courage, security, calm, intrepidity.
- a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights. Synonyms: phobia, aversion; bête noire, bogy, bogey, bugbear. Antonyms: liking, fondness, penchant, predilection.
- concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone’s safety.
- reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God. Synonyms: awe, respect, reverence, veneration.
- something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of: Cancer is a common fear.
Dr. Jeffers believes that in most cases, fear is not a psychological problem, it’s an educational problem and that by
reeducating the mind, we can accept fear as simply a fact of life rather than a barrier to success.
We all fear something and most of us have either given up on a dream or let something pass us by because we were afraid. As coaches, walking clients through fear and giving them the tools to navigate themselves through it will be an invaluable resource. In this book, fear is broken down into three levels. The first level is fear of things that happen such as aging, change, loss of child or relationship, being alone, etc. It can also be fear of things that require action such as making decisions, changing careers, losing weight, making a mistake, etc. If we dig deeper, the second level of fear has to do with inner states of the mind. Examples of this could be fear of being rejected, fear of being vulnerable, fear of failure or success. The third and final level of fear boils down to this: Fear that, I can’t handle it! That’s it. I can’t handle it. Can I handle aging? Can I handle change? Can I handle the loss of my relationship? Can I handle being alone? What if I make the wrong decision, can I handle it? Can I handle the attention and expectation that comes with losing weight? Can I handle putting myself out there and being rejected? As a coach I will help my clients peel back the layers of fear so they can realize that they can, if fact, handle it. Because, what choice do we have?
Fear doesn’t just go away. I remember thinking that when I lost weight I would be fearless. I thought that when I was thinner everything in my life would fall into place. I would walk confidently, talk to anyone with self assured ease, of course I would make more money, have better job security, heck, I’d have everything I wanted! Even if I had problems they would be easier if I were thinner. Well, I’m in great shape now and I can tell you that fear still exists! I know, bummer, right? Fear doesn’t just disappear one day. We have to walk through it. Whenever we are doing something new, i.e. moving out of our comfort level, we will have fear. If we are growing and expanding ourselves, we will have fear. The only thing that will make the fear go away is to walk through it. To face it head on. And you what? Everyone else is facing fear as well. Sometimes it feels like we are the only ones who are afraid but the truth is that we are all afraid of something. We can either push through the fear [by doing whatever it is we are afraid of] or stay trapped in that fear.
Dr Jeffers created a chart called, Pain to Power. It’s about moving yourself from the victim state to a more powerful state. One easy way to do it is through the language we use. Changing of some of the words that we use can be very empowering. For example, just by changing the word can’t to won’t puts the power back in our control. We almost always “can” do something, but we are choosing not to for whatever reason. The key word here is choosing. We are making a conscious choice as opposed to being a victim of circumstance.
Should/Could is another great example. The word should itself implies obligation whereas could implies choice.
How about, “It’s not my fault?” How many times have you said that one? For most of us, many! When we change that statement to one of taking responsibility the power shifts back to us. It’s not my fault leaves us helpless to circumstance. By taking responsibility, seeing what our part in the situation is, we put ourselves back in the driver’s seat.
What will I do can be changed to I know I can handle it! I know I can handle it. Just saying it feels powerful. There are many more but you see where this is going. By monitoring our self talk we become more confident and powerful. When I coach I want to empower my clients as much as possible. Establishing positive self talk is important. We are inside our heads all day long. The change has to come from within us.
Another way of bringing power into our lives is by moving out of our comfort zones. This is really important in coaching. We get so comfortable in our routines, our excuses, our lives in general. We can’t move forward if we don’t move out of our comfort zone. That’s where the magic happens! Each time we take new steps or risks we become more fearless and our sense of self worth grows. With each new step/risk we take, it becomes a little bit easier until eventually we’ve established a new comfort zone.