What To Do If Fear Is In The Driver’s Seat

Fear is universal. There is not one of us who have not felt the pang of heartbreak, shame, resentment, judgment, and pain, and in turn, turned that emotion into fear; fear to never want to relive that very deep and very real sensation all over again.

When my siblings and I were young, we spent all day playing in the streets with our neighbors. We’d spend hours upon hours playing kickball, hide-and-seek, having dinner at one another’s houses, and staying out as long as we could until we were called in by our parents.

One evening while coming home from a friends house after dark, I was walking while my older brother was biking a bit behind me. I heard a screech and a scream that reverberated through my whole body. I was overcome with fear. I ran home to get my mom and that bike accident landed my brother in the hospital with a concussion and lacerations across his face. He was my hero and knowing he was in such pain shook me. I developed a fear of the dark from that day on. “Bad things happen in the dark,” I told myself.

I was just a child when that happened and as life and time passed, I began to create new references of being in the dark. I no longer associated the setting of the sun with the pain my brother experienced and the fear I had of living a life without him there. While I still do my due diligence to stay safe in the evenings of course (not walking alone in unfamiliar places, etc.) I have been able to move past my fear with enough positive references.

But here’s the thing, I had a fear that I wasn’t able to hide behind for too long. I had to face it because, well, I had to be in the dark.

Perhaps your fear is a fear of failure, a fear of being seen, a fear of being alone, a fear of being unworthy. And it’s quite easy to craft a life that ensures you never have the chance to fail, be alone, be truly seen, or prove to yourself that you are indeed a worthy, smart, interesting person who has something incredibly valuable to offer this world.

It’s easy to stay at a job you don’t love, to stay in the safe relationship, to never take the risk to soar and to never leave your comfort zone. Because unlike me and my fear of the dark, it actually is possible to live your whole life in that place. But there is no magic there. There is no light. There is no inspiration. And it’s no way to spend this one precious life you have right now. Fear stops you from living the life you really want to be living.

So, what do you do when fear is in the driver’s seat?

Step 1: Identify what the fear is.

We all have fear and like I mentioned above, it’s universal. Having fear is a sign that there is an area of your life where you are ready to shift, change, and evolve- THAT is a good thing! It’s what you do with the fear that matters. Having fear is not a problem, it’s a catalyst.

So begin by identifying what the fear is and how it shows up in your life. For example, for a long time, I had a fear of releasing my first online course. Sharing my work, heart, and mission with the world put me in a very vulnerable place and that fear of really allowing myself to be seen showed up as procrastination and excuses. And on an even deeper level than the fear of releasing my course was the fear of going all-in on my entrepreneurial pursuits.

The inner dialogue looked something like ” who am I do this, what if I fail, what if no one likes me, and I make no money, and I’m homeless, and alone, and my family disowns me because I disappointed them, and then I die alone and homeless without having made any sort of impact on the world, what a failure.” That’s where my brain went, and I know, I’m not the only one whose disempowering thoughts lead them down such a path. It’s almost funny to read but it’s true and very real.

But do you know what’s even scarier than failing at pursuing a dream you have for yourself? Never trying in the first place.

What is your fear and how it is showing up for you?

Excuses and made-up stories often sound like:

  • “I’m too young.”
  • “I’m too old.”
  • “I can’t.”
  • “I don’t have enough money.”
  • “I have too much money.”
  • “They won’t like me.”
  • “I don’t know enough.”
  • “Someone else would be better than me.”
  • “I need more time.”
  • “I’m not good enough.”
  • “I don’t have anything to offer.” (**This one gets me. We ALL have something to offer. No one in the entire world can be better at being you, than YOU. Even if there are one million other people doing EXACTLY what you do, no one can do it in the way you do it.)

Do any of these sound familiar to you? If so, it’s fear talking.

So get to know your fear, come to understand it, and get really curious about it. Is this fear your own? Or is it fear passed onto you from your parents, brother, sister, friends, or teachers? 

It’s common that if your parents have a fear of never having enough money, you too have a fear of never having enough money. 

Take some time to really sit with this and uncover exactly what your fear is, where it resides in your body, and how it shows up for you. 

Step 2: Let your fear inspire you into action.

I know this sounds counterintuitive but hear me out, once you get clear on what the fear is you can use it as a catalyst for change. Let’s all agree now that staying stuck in your fear is just not an option. Do you know why? Because as soon as you get over the thing that is currently keeping you stuck, you will be greeted with the next fearful thing.

Like I mentioned above, first I was fearful about releasing my first course, once I did that I was fearful about working for myself fully, once I did that I was fearful about taking my business remote and traveling, once I did that I was fearful about coming back home and what people would think about me, once I got back I was fearful to do retreats, and now that I have booked my first retreat, I’m fearful about the second retreat. The cycle never ends. But what matters is that I’m taking the fear and funneling it into the next project that inspires me and lights me up. Now I know, that if I don’t feel that buzz of nerves, of excitement, of doing something new, I’m most likely walking the wrong path. Does this make sense to you? I hope so.

You have fear, and you most likely always will, it’s what you do with the fear that defines you. THAT is what is interesting about you. 

“One day your heart will stop beating, and none of your fears will matter. What will matter is how you lived.” – Henri Juntilla

So, today, wherever you are in the world and wherever you are in your life, I ask you to get into intentional action. Get in action and stay in action. Ask yourself, “what is the next smallest step I can take to take my fear and turn it into inspired action?” And then do it.

If you are looking for some additional support, feel free to shoot me an email at carlyhealthcoach@gmail.com and share your fear and what actions you are going to start taking. I would be honored to support you along the way.

If you’d like to dive more into this topic in a supportive group of like-minded women in the Costa Rican jungle, I encourage you to join us for the Sacred Self Care Retreat April 22-28. At the time of writing this, there are still 3 spots remaining.

You got this. The world needs the light that only you can share.

Much love,