One of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves is to take responsibility for our life. How many of us really truly take responsibility for our own lives? And by taking responsibility, I’m talking about not blaming others for the things that happen in our life. When we acknowledge that we play a part in everything that happens to us, we are again empowered. We get to choose how we experience life. If everything that happened to us was someone else’s fault we’d really be in trouble! We’d have no recourse. But when we see that we play a part in what happens to us and that we are in complete control of how we react to every situation, we increase our ability to handle fear in our life. As Dr. Jeffers so eloquently puts it,
If you know you can create your own misery, it stands to reason that you can create your own joy.
A very powerful way we can create our own joy is through positive thinking. Why is it that when we are happy and bouncing off the walls people think we’re crazy but if we’re sad and depressed they understand. They sympathize. They “get it.” As a coach, if I can impart one bit of wisdom on my clients it would be the power of positive thinking. Many people think it’s unrealistic to think positively all the time. Really, people? To me this goes hand in hand with creating our Universe through our thoughts. We certainly create our moods through our thoughts. When we are able to think more positively it will pull us closer to our own power. When we are happy we are stronger physically and emotionally. When someone is in a positive mode you can see it in their body language. They stand taller, they smile, they think more clearly. They feel good and it radiates out of them. When I am having an off day or just feeling down, I’ve noticed that if I say some positive affirmations to myself it truly helps. It gets me over that little hump. It empowers me and makes me feel strong! In this state it is much easier to tackle our fears.
On the flip side, negative thoughts take away your power and allow your fears to take over. You can see when someone is feeling bad or negative. Their shoulders may be slumped, head down, they are probably frowning and feeling weak and afraid. They very likely won’t be able to overcome any fears in this state. This state creates fear. You can’t help it if you wake up feeling crabby or moody. But when you recognize that you are feeling that way you can choose a different thought! The best thing about this is that it’s our choice to make. We can consciously choose to change the negative thoughts to positive thoughts.
One of the biggest fears people have in life, and this is certainly true for me, is the fear of making the wrong decision. Ugh, can you imagine? Making the wrong choice? Should I leave my secure, albeit boring, job to find something more fulfilling? What if it doesn’t work out? What if I fall flat on my face? Should I leave my unfulfilling relationship? But, what if I never find someone else to be with? What if I’m alone for the rest of my life? Or, what if I find someone worse than the person I’m currently with? What if I don’t make it? What if I can’t handle it? It’s true, decision making can be hard. The thought of making the wrong choice alone can paralyze you! What if we change the way we look at the situation? What if there is no wrong choice? Making mistakes has such a bad connotation to it nowadays. We forget that it’s through our mistakes that we learn. Either choice that we make will provide opportunities for our growth. Our fears can be an underlying belief of our lack of trust in ourselves. We need to look at the situation from a place that we can’t lose, that we will survive no matter what happens to us, because, frankly, we will.
The knowledge that you can handle anything that comes your way is the key to allowing yourself to take healthy, life-affirming risks.
Being secure in yourself doesn’t mean you have every situation in your control. It’s a knowing that whatever happens, you can trust yourself to handle it. This also creates security and self esteem within yourself.
Dr. Jeffers created a No-Lose Decision Making Process that basically looks like this:
Before you make a decision:
- Remember that there will be learning opportunities along either path you choose so you can’t lose!
- Do your homework. Talk to people. Review all your options. As we so often see in coaching, sometimes just talking to someone about our ideas brings clarity.
- Establish your priorities. Clarify your goals. Decide what’s most important to you right now. Goals and priorities change as we grow so decide which path is more in line with your overall goals in life right now.
- Trust your impulses. Or, as I like to say, follow your gut. Trust your intuition. It may not make perfect sense in the moment but it’s telling you something for a reason.
- Lighten up. Each experience is a lesson learned. And, no matter what happens, you will handle it!
After making a decision:
- Throw away your picture. Once you make your decision, let all expectations go. By that I mean let the picture we’ve created in our mind go. It may not end up looking the way you thought it would so be open to new opportunities. It may end up different and that could be a great thing!
- Accept total responsibility for your decisions. When we make a decision we have to take responsibility for that decision, whatever the outcome may be.
- Don’t protect, correct. I love this one because it’s so simple but I hadn’t thought of it in this light before. Once we make a decision, we don’t have to fight tooth and nail for it. If it doesn’t look the way we wanted it to look we can change course. We can turn in a different direction, readjust, or tweak it however we want to. Upsets are beneficial because they tell us that we are off course in some way. So, we make little adjustments. We figure it out. We handle it!
If we are so afraid of not fulfilling our dreams that we don’t pursue them then we will fail for sure. When we are out there trying, even when we are afraid, we are taking steps towards having the future we want.
Dr. Jeffers has created something that I wish every girl in high school was required to learn. It’s called the Whole Life. In this model we fill in the boxes with things that are important to us.
A model could look like this:
These boxes represent the different areas of our lives. When we find balance between these areas our life won’t fall apart when there is a problem. For example, if I am having a problem at work, I still have all these other boxes to nourish me. If I’m having relationship problems and the rest of my boxes are “full” then my life won’t feel like it’s over. It will still hurt, but if my other boxes are full the loss won’t feel as devastating. So many times women put everything into their relationship box and when it goes bad they feel like life is over. I have seen this many, many times. It’s because we don’t give as much attention to all the other areas of our life. Friendships are important. When I was younger it was an unspoken rule that if you had plans with your girlfriends and your boyfriend called it was completely acceptable to drop your plans with your girlfriends to be with your boyfriend. Imagine giving someone that power! And, imagine still how devastating it would be if the relationship ended. When we spend time nourishing and taking care of our Whole Life we create more balance and overall happiness. If we act as if each box in our life matters then nothing will be able to take away our basic sense of completeness.
Connecting with your Higher Self. This is where true fulfillment can be found. Connecting with our Highest Self is what fills that void we are all looking to fill. We look everywhere to fill that empty spot within us. We look to relationships, food, drugs, sex, material possessions. None of those things lead to the fulfillment we are looking for. In fact, they often make us feel less fulfilled and it leads to fear. Fear that we will never have enough, do enough, be enough. The more fear we feel the more closed off we become which in turn creates more fear. To turn this around we need to release it all. Let go. Instead of fighting for how much we get, we can find fulfillment in our giving. This is an old statement but it still holds true: The more you give, the more you get. Getting something in return is NOT the reason to give, but it is a beautiful by-product. Giving nourishes the soul. It makes us feel good. It creates connection. When we feel connected we feel powerful and loving and we have nothing to fear.
Not to be confused with religion, our Higher Self is our Spiritual Self. This is a place of trust. Trust that your intuition will guide you. Trust that the Universe is working on behalf of your highest good. Everything about our culture has become fast paced. We want what we want and we want it right now! We forget that there is something much bigger than us that sets the pace. There is a reason and purpose in everything. If we can trust that, be open to the Universe, give and connect with others, then we realize we don’t need to be afraid. But, during those inevitable moments when we do feel afraid, we can feel that fear, and do it anyway because we know that we can handle it!
Fear is an enormous topic, and a universal one. As a coach I am committed to helping people walk through their fears so they can live their best lives.
Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., Feel the Fear…and Do It Anyway, 2007 Ballantine Books Trade Paperback Edition