It’s Just a Story! Time to Rewrite Those Fear Stories
Recently, I saw a quote on Facebook that went something like this: “The fears we don’t face become our limits.”
I love that, and it’s SO true!
Faced with anything scary, we create a story in our head about how it will impact us and that defines our actions.
These “fear stories” are our go-to defense against anything that makes us step outside of our comfort zone. They’re powerful and prevent us from going for what we want and growing beyond our safety zone.
But, here’s the thing...what happens in our fear stories are never as bad as the reality.
My Fear Story: I Can't Network
Over the course of this year, my coach has challenged me to start networking at local events for professional women. Being the introvert that I am, ‘networking’ is not exactly on the top of my list of fun ways to spend an evening!
I knew she was right, but I found excuse after excuse to avoid this challenge for months. Finally, a couple of months ago I decided it was time to stand up to the fear and show up in my life.
To get past my own fear stories, I needed to prove to myself that they weren’t true (or not as bad as I was imagining!). So, I put together a list of all the things I should be doing to ‘put myself out there’ more for my business and put a deadline of December 31. It’s my challenge to get out of my own way!
In addition to pitching myself for articles and podcasts, I also included attending networking events and pitching myself to speak at local events. #ScaryAF
I started things off with a bang! I jumped online and found several local professional women’s networking groups and clicked ‘join’ before I could talk myself out of it. But, that’s the easy part! While my mojo was strong, I also registered for a networking dinner two weeks out.
I was excited and feeling strong. I talked about my nerves with my boyfriend in the days leading up the event, and he gave me all the pep talks and encouragement I needed to keep my fears at bay.
As the day of the event arrived, fear and dread dominated my every thought.
By late afternoon, I was sitting at my desk at work practically in tears. Finally, I decided I wasn’t going to go. I defiantly told myself that I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to do and I didn’t care what anyone else thought!
Then, five minutes before the time I would need to leave, my boyfriend sent me a simple text wishing me good luck and that he hoped I had fun. Staring at my phone, I knew I couldn’t ignore his text (that’d be rude!). But, I couldn’t simply reply with “Thanks!” and pretend I was going (that’d be lying!), and I definitely didn’t want to tell him I wasn’t going (only because I didn’t want him to see me ‘fail’!). In that instance, I knew I had to get up and drive my butt there.
I was terrified.
Rewriting My Fear Story
I arrived about ten minutes early and parked facing the entrance. Over the next five minutes, I saw woman after woman pull into the parking lot and walk into the facility.
None of them looked scary enough to justify my level of fear. So, I swiped on some lipstick, fluffed my hair, threw my shoulders back, and headed into the event.
Two and half hours later, I walked out of that hotel on cloud nine! I met so many amazing women! I had fun, and I felt empowered. I wasn’t a bumbling idiot, I could string together more than two words.
Networking didn’t kill me. In fact, I kind of liked it!
In that instant, I rewrote my fear story. That doesn’t mean I won’t be nervous before future networking events (and since then, I’ve attended a few more), but I have this experience to look back on to counteract my Inner Bully.
Blame Your Inner Bully
When you are trying to get out of your comfort zone, your Inner Bully will get really loud. It will try to convince you that whatever it is you want to do is out of your reach. It will tell you anything to make you avoid it at all costs.
My Inner Bully had convinced me I had social anxiety, which is why I couldn’t “do” social events, but when I googled the symptoms of this, none of them applied to me. But, in the moments leading up to the event, I still believed I couldn’t do it because I had social anxiety (which I don’t!).
My hope from sharing my story with you is that you take a moment to consider your own fear stories.
What do you want to do, but keep avoiding because your Inner Bully doesn’t want you to do it?
What is your fear story and how is it wrong?
While you assess your fear story, look for trigger words. For me, “networking” was what would send my Inner Bully into a frantic tantrum. By simply using another word, I was able to calm down that voice of insanity.
What are your trigger words? What are alternative words that you can use to calm down your Inner Bully?
Stepping into what we fear is what makes us stronger. You are strong enough; you just have to prove it to yourself.