Fear is a Liar.
I fell in love with this phrase after deciding that I had been following the loud voice of fear for way too long. Fear was driving my decisions and owning many of my relationships. I realized I was walking through life with one of those full, face covering masks on- the creepy Halloween kind that blurs your features. You technically can see me. But, you can’t really see me.
Before diving fully into the lying side of fear, I feel like I should acknowledge that I am fully aware that the voice of fear can be very honest at times. Fear stops us from doing incredibly dangerous and stupid things as a voice of reason. Fear can help us pause to negotiate our thoughts and actions when faced with the desire to be impulsive. Fear cannot be ignored. But, fear can be challenged.
Fear lies when it stops you from being the real, authentic you.
Fear has a loud voice that can overpower the whispers of hidden or newly discovered goals and dreams. It can stall you from trusting yourself. It can give you anxiety, cause you to lash out, and frustrate you. It can lead you to perfectionism, people pleasing, and false intentions.
Thinking something doesn’t make it true- fear is good at offering lies.
The good news is that even if you can’t stop it, you can wrestle with it. But first you have to understand what your fears really mean.
I am afraid of many things. A few of these include new technology, snakes and open 5Ks. I realized several years ago that none of these fears are as simple as they appear.
My fear of snakes is almost always validated. Snakes are creepy and slithery and unpredictable. Some of the even smallest ones can kill you with their venom and the big ones can eat you whole. The truth is, I don’t like snakes. But I am not afraid of snakes. I am afraid of the unknown and not being in control of my surroundings.
New technology is also a validated fear by many of us over 35. I had an incredible opportunity to coach our racing team at an amazing cycling facility last winter. I was excited when I signed the contract and sold packages for our Tuesday and Wednesday rides. I wholeheartedly believed that it was a perfect fit for the team. And then I started to learn how much I had to learn. I thankfully was confident in teaching about power and watts, but learning and troubleshooting almost everything else reared some of my bigger fears. I wasn’t actually afraid of the smart trainers or ANT sticks. I realized I am afraid of feeling foolish, being judged, disappointing people, and being completely out of control.
My most recent realization of fear is that I am afraid of running an open 5K. Many of you might laugh at a 3X Ironman finisher writing that statement. I am not afraid of running 3.1 miles in a crowd of racers. I am afraid of not running fast enough to meet my own expectations and those of others. I am afraid of the discomfort without an excuse. I am afraid of failing and being judged.
Letting these real fears have any control in my life does not serve my purpose. So, how have I or will I conquer them? By facing them head on. I took on the technology each week at the cycling studio and learned the behind the scenes processes so that I could understand how to troubleshoot on my own. I have not and will not avoid certain areas because there might be snakes hiding in the grass. Maybe I will even let someone drape one over me at some point in the future. I will run an open 5K painfully hard when we are able to race again.
I will not hide.
Roughly ten years ago I identified a real fear of dying without people knowing how much I loved those close to me as well as all of humanity. This was scary. I had to take a big and multifaceted look at this layered fear over several years. After wrestling with it I came to the realization that this fear was deep rooted in my not fully giving my full, real self to the world. My energy to love was being used on managing my persona. I still felt loads of love for people, but without loving myself it was falling flat. I was letting my fears of not belonging, being rejected, and not being in control stop me from being vulnerable as my whole and real self. I was causing my biggest fear to come true.
Through practice I am able to see fear as the sneaky liar that it is. I have figured out how it likes to weave into my thoughts and get in the way of me being wholly alive.
Now if I am afraid of something I vow to try it, at least once, to make sure I am not avoiding it solely out of fear. I won’t allow fears of the unknown, lack of control, failing, being judged, disappointing people, or looking foolish stop me from knowing, believing in, or loving myself. And I have also learned that when I live in the light of honesty rather than the darkness of fear, I am no longer afraid of loving. I believe I am worthy of being loved.
So, as we start Halloween week ask yourself, what are you so afraid of?
Take off that creepy mask and get out there and be the real you. We will all thank you for it.