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Fear isn’t limited to flunking your final test, going to the dentist, or missing your flight and somehow not meeting your soulmate who was also on that plane. Fear can be being scared to join an organization, start a business, or date again after a bad breakup. Fear can be scary, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
My Therapist Made Me Record This Episode
Okay, so my therapist low-key told me I had to record an episode…
Her and I have been exploring and diving deep into some of the things I’m struggling with lately. But basically, I need to be uncomfortable again. I’ve been doing a therapy that’s intense and it’s caused me to have to face a lot of things. The past few weeks, I’ve had intense panic attacks right before trying to record.
The other thing she’s challenging me to do is journal. Normally I am great at it, but the past few weeks have made it hard to. But, due to therapy, I’m really facing these fears. I started journaling and what came up was this…
Journal from September 2022
I think I’m afraid of fear. Not the kind when the dress is halfway over your head and you’re not sure if the zipper is stuck or if your boobs have just gotten too big. Or the kind that wakes you up in the middle of the night and you assume the ice maker is a serial killer. Those things are scary, sure. But I can’t explain the fears that paralyze me. That voice in my head that convinces me that everyone I love will abandon me. That gut feeling I get when I try to record a podcast and feel deep down that it’s just total garbage. Or the real reason I haven’t been home to Wisconsin yet. That reason being that it’s the ultimate display of rejection. And rejection is my biggest fear. Rejection tells me to keep my circle small so less people can leave. It tells me that I should’ve just tried harder, been a little less myself, and I still would’ve been in a relationship that would’ve killed me. It challenged me in high school to drink, because that’s what you do to fit in. It told me in college that guys didn’t want to date a prude. It told me to fight until my knuckles bled for the affection from a father that would never truly love me. Rejection is the opposite of chosen— and that’s something I’ve wanted my entire life. To be chosen, again, and again, and again. I’ve spent years avoiding it. Running from my fears. But in the end, I was just rejecting myself.
What is Fear?
For me and the purpose of this episode, it’s not fear of bad things happening or a loved one dying. Fear in this context is something that holds you back, but that you can change the perception of. And we’re not talking fear of dentists, paper cuts, bad news, but fear being something you know you’re supposed to do— but you’re too afraid of the outcome that you’re not willing to do it.
My biggest fear is rejection. I have a lot of fears, but this is the big one.
There are two ends of the spectrum. I’ve done things that didn’t respect myself or my body because I wanted to be chosen, loved, and to fit in. I was willing to look the other way. Most recently, I’ve found myself in unhealthy relationships because I was still being chosen. No matter how badly they hurt me, at least I was being chosen.
I told myself for years that this was the best I deserved. You don’t walk into a grocery store and look for the worst banana. Nobody is looking for the nasty brown ones (unless you’re making banana bread…) but you typically go for the ripe or almost ripe ones. Terrible analogy, who doesn’t love banana bread?!
But I told myself I wasn’t worthy of what I wanted. I was telling myself what I thought I deserved. But I know now that I deserved SO much better.
Fear for you may not be moving across the country. It could be taking a class that interests you, telling that person you like them, I want to join a group but don’t want to look uncool. Fear doesn’t have to be something life or death.
Fear doesn’t have to be this huge lightning bolt type of moment, it can be a small thing. Those small things can paralyze you. Whatever you’re scared of, there’s some rationality to it. Your perception is your reality. What you’re feeling is what you’re going through. That doesn’t mean what your reality is correct or what you believe in is right, but it’s what you’re feeling and what you believe.
For me, thinking about this podcast… I was scared to hit record because I didn’t feel qualified. I didn’t feel like what I had to say was good enough for someone else to listen to. I’m just Jordi. I’m not that interesting of a person. I don’t always feel like a big sister to people and it’s been hard to record because I feel like I’m faking it.
Not faking the content, but faking that I’m this super strong person that has it all together. When I’ve found that strength to record, I know it’s genuine and that the intentions are there. But that little voice in my head still says, “Who are you to help someone else? You’re the queen of being a hot mess…”
But that doesn’t mean that what I have to say won’t help someone else. And those little lies and that fear inside of me is something I’m trying to embrace.
How to Face Fear
It’s okay to have fear. It’s okay to be scared. The best way I’ve been able to find my fears (lowercase fears, not uppercase— like phobias!) is to journal. If I had to boil down fighting and facing fear, it would go like this…
Find what makes you uncomfortable. Not everything that makes us uncomfortable is a bad thing, too. Public speaking, making new friends, picking up a new hobby, trying a new instrument…
Therapy is another tool that has been incredibly helpful for me. Because of therapy, I’ve been able to acknowledge these fears. The first step is to reframe these fears.
Maybe you have a dream of starting a new business, but you’re terrified of failing. What you can do is sit down and journal about the absolute worst possible scenario. Maybe that’s going bankrupt, losing it, having people make fun of you, whatever it is… writing it down. Look at the page and ask yourself how you can change the narrative.
You’re afraid to be made fun of? At least you’re trying.
You’re scared that it may be taken away from you? It can’t be taken away if you don’t start it.
What if you don’t make friends by joining an organization? You probably will… that’s just fear telling not to because it’s scared of rejection.
What if you’re the odd one? It’s better to be yourself and be loved for who you are than to be liked for who you aren’t.
Once you’ve reframed these thoughts, you can make a plan. Take whittling. You know that you need to watch a YouTube video, pick up some wood, and a Swiss army knife. Make a plan.
Maybe you want to write a book? Making a plan will help you to know what step in the process you’re at. Should you be working with a literary agent? Are you writing this for anyone t oread, or is this a therapeutic process for you to use like a journal? Make small tasks to cross off along the process like writing your acknowledgements. You’ll feel so much better and the fears will slowly go away.
After you have a plan, find someone to hold you accountable.
Maybe you’re wanting to start a 30-day workout challenge and know that you’ll slack off after about day three. Find someone who can push you to keep going and be in your corner regardless of the fear. Someone to keep you on the path to where you want to be.
Finally— stay encouraged and figure out what that means to you.
Maybe every Sunday you have a self-care moment. Maybe you go to yoga or give time back to yourself. Fin a way to stay encouraged during a season when you’re doubting yourself. Find a way to reward yourself for reaching goals and markers.
It’s okay to celebrate yourself.
Don’t Let Fear Freak You Out
For me, facing my fears means continuing to record these podcasts. For you, it could be joining an organization, learning an instrument, or learning to paint. Whatever you think your purpose is.
Don’t let fear stop you from doing it. You were made for more. You were made to make a difference— and that difference doesn’t have to be huge. Don’t let fear freak you out.
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