Fear, a dark curtain of self-doubt and insecurity

Like everybody else, you have probably heard that all actions and emotions stem from only two sources. Love and fear.

These babies are like night and day – one providing you with sun, warmth and colour. The other gives you darkness, cold and very few contrasts. It’s all dark in the night (unless you live in the far north, but I will assume you don’t). Let’s continues on the topic of our environment. Both day and night contain the other. Both can have rain, which allows for growth to happen. No water, no growth. And water does not discriminate.

That got fluffy.

Anyways. We move through these constantly, not always loving all the things, or always fearing everything. We’re always experiencing different shades of grey, and if you’ve ever seen those films or read the books, you’ll know that even pleasure is complex and things that doesn’t sound that great can be wonderful. That goes both ways, I think we’ve all had this great idea one, and then it turned out to be.. Less perfect.

Fear and love are emotions that form our actions and they live in the back of our minds, in our subconscious and in our hearts. I find it ironic that we are often most afraid of the things we would love most to have in our life. I know I am. I am afraid of finding and keeping love, being good at what I do and to deeper explore what I’m curious about. I think it’s related to the fat that if I try, I can fail, but if I let fear reign me in, and not try to go after all these potentially amazing things, to NOT decide to go after those things was to let fear make a decision for me. Does that make sense?

Obvious fears that we may have, like flying, spiders, small spaces or heights are easier to understand for us – we experience the whole situation as frightening. The previous mentioned situations don’t appear frightening in the same sense – it’s what they (might) mean to us that stops us from pursuing them.

So, what happens in us when fear takes hold?

It affects out subconscious and conscious thoughts, most notably in the way of negative self-talk, manifesting in beliefs that we are not good enough, and that we are not worthy. We don’t deserve this or that, and even if we did, we could never get there. Right?

We think somewhere between 50 000 and 70 000 thoughts every day. Around 80% of those are negative thoughts. And about 95% are the same exact thought we thought yesterday. 5% or our thoughts are conscious and rational. Does that give you some perspective of why change feels so damn difficult?

“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right.”

That is so true. As soon as these thoughts take hold, they reinforce our already faulty beliefs, that we suck. A lot of us can even listen to our own negative self-talk and realize that it’s bullshit, but we still won’t believe our rational thoughts, even if we would love to do that. To change beliefs, or a whole belief system, you need to work A LOT. Put in the sets and reps. Or, experience an emotional trauma that changes everything for you (this method I do not recommend, no matter how efficient it may be). One thing that makes it really hard to change beliefs, is that when you start groping around in your belief pit, there are some really nasty snakes in there. You might go in intending to kill one or two little ones, but then you may find that they have a big ass mama that won’t let you go near that shit. So, how do you kill or weaken the mama?

The snake pit is always very much alive. Snakes may die, but they are also born. And what types of weapons can be used on imaginary snakes? You can’t put a kitchen knife in your head (well you can, but again not something I will recommend). Do you alone, possess the ability to find and change beliefs that are actually harming you?

Personally, I’ve been working with therapists and coaches since I was 17, when I got epilepsy. Every time I’d start talking, it would be a matter of staying afloat, not drowning, but surviving. In 2017 that changed, and I started working with a behavioural coach when I was actually doing well. That was a game changer – suddenly it wasn’t about staying afloat, but about stepping up. Ironically, stepping up is even harder than surviving. But the places I’ve been able to go to thanks to my coach, are dark and uninviting places I probably would not have ventured into if it was just me, by myself. A little hand holding is never wrong. I’ve slayed a few beasts, but I am still my own worst enemy. And most likely, you are yours.

What makes us hold onto these crazy beliefs so hard? Fear. Again. Because beliefs make us certain about who we are and how we act with the world. When we change them, everything else must change too. Change is uncomfortable, scary and difficult, so it’s a lot easier for us to just hold onto what we know, even if it’s not serving us, or if it’s even true. Change in a way means that we need to admit the fact that we were wrong about something.

I struggle in between every session with my coach, as soon as I think I’ve got stuff figured out, I realize that it was definitely not the case and that it is time (again) for a little changeup meltdown, and a reset. I think those who have been around me for the last few months have definitely noticed a change in me, if nothing else, the emotional rollercoasters that come with change.

What can you do to stop fear from limiting yourself?

I think the most important thing you can do, if you don’t have help from a coach, mentor or  therapist, is to try to map out your beliefs as best as you can. It’s hard in the beginning, but let it be hard and keep going. I like to split them up into categories;

  • Beliefs around relationships (romantic, friendship, family)
  • Beliefs around career (studying, work, further education)
  • Beliefs around money (what you earn, what others earn, what you are worth – looking at you, business owner!)
  • Beliefs around yourself (I can’t do this thing, I’m not worth love, I don’t deserve a raise)
  • Beliefs around others (judgement basically, sexuality, race, people’s choices that you have nothing to do with in general fall in this category)

You can create as many categories as you see fit, or just start with a single one, where you think it will be easy to find something to work with.

For example, a normal belief is that to make your business do well, you need to work 10-16 hours a day. Is this true? Most likely not. Is it true for you? It could be. It could be your truth today, but a truth that might not serve you very well in the long run. You might even do better with a different belief. From here (awareness), you can start to find ways to work around this. One way to work with this particular belief could be to experiment with productivity hacks to get more done in less time. Or actually take time off, so you get more energy to work the next day (I know this works for me, even if my belief about this isn’t changed at the core just yet). There are no bad ways to work with this – if you work with it at all, that is success!

If you do decide to try belief-mapping, please let me know how it goes!