What is needed, rather than running away or controlling suppress or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it. (Jiddu Krishnamurti) and if possible…have fun with it (Dr.G).
When we are afraid to do something for fear of being made fun of, looking silly, or judged most often well intended people say to us “who cares!” As in, who cares what people think, just do it anyway.”
“Who cares?!” I think. Well, I care! And if I care then other people may care, and people judge, people have opinions. That’s what we do. We evaluate, judge, criticize, comment, and from the looks of Facebook and Twitter everyone has an opinion on EVERYTHING . However, despite “who cares,” we can overcome and thrive from doing the things that we fear may make us look silly, Polly Anna’ish, dumb, or even great! The only person we need to prove it to is ourselves.
Just imagine me making a tall, brute, athlete stand up in front of my office mirror and exclaiming loudly with gumption and feeling “I am important!” “I am of value to my team!” “I am fierce and on my game!” “I hit every shot with confidence and accuracy!” Well most of them are very hesitant to do so. After a bit of encouragement they do it and most of the time their first reaction is “I feel really silly Dr. G. I can’t do this anymore.” I say, “I know you feel silly but you can try to do it anyway,” “You got this.” I then model for them how I would like them to do the practice statements (and in my own way risk looking silly too). Then they go back to doing it. After a few times they got the hang of it, and eventually start to really get into it. That’s when they “magically” forget that I am watching and really own the statement or phrase. In that moment they overcame a small but very significant fear. By doing that simple routine they have started developing new script, a new message that says “I can survive looking silly, and do things despite looking silly, and the feelings of fear will eventually subside, and even potentially shift to feelings of exhilaration and excitement. Something new and different is happening here and it feels good.”
I share this with you because I have been there. I remember telling friends and family in undergrad that I wanted to be a doctor someday. I would tell them that I wanted to take Dr. Phil’s job. That I wanted to empower thousands and millions of people across the country. The common responses that I remember getting is “you’re crazy, “you’re silly G,” “whatever you’re always talking about some dream” “you don’t have enough to make it.” I even remember asking an old skool psych professor in the department for guidance and he told me “You don’t have what it takes. It’s too late for you.” Then proceeded to tell me all the reasons why I was not good enough for a doctoral program. However, I continued to be determined and secretly kept grad school applications to Harvard and Stanford in my backpack to keep me motivated. I would even write my name with “Dr.” before and the letters after it. But I noticed that I shared less of my dreams and aspirations with “friends” for fear that they would judge or put me down. I reached out to one more professor and she challenged me to just go for it and try anyway. “Just give it the old college try” she said. She wrote down three things on a piece of paper (which I still have today) that I needed to focus on. As you can see from my profile I did get my doctorate, and I have not yet taken Dr. Phil’s job, although I really do want to meet Oprah.
I share with you both examples because sometimes overcoming fears and judgments are about “just doing it anyway” despite “who cares” or what people may say. Keep talking about your dreams, keep saying the affirmations, keep thinking positive and looking for the best in situations, people, places, and things. Keep talking about big ideas. Keep doing the work that highlights your best qualities. Even if the outcome is not what you expected at the very least you proved to yourself that you were willing to try and therefore survived. You have validated your efforts and willingness, which is a very powerful message to send yourself.
Keep reaching for your peak and SHINE ON my friends…