When Fear Gets in the Way
Now a lot of people, and part of the definition was this idea of being afraid. But I wanna say, really? I mean, are we really talking about fear? And we did have examples of very dramatic things that people think would happen, which never really do happen in that way. I mean there's some drama in the workplace, but it's never what we imagine it's gonna be, and it's never as bad as we imagine it's gonna be. So my suggestion here is maybe we can shift the language also, and not necessarily talk about fear, or say that you're afraid. And I'm not saying that you don't feel fear, but this is when we need courage, right? To muster the courage to do whatever the thing is anyway, because the fear might just be a relic of the child inside of you, and now you are an adult, and you need to bring the adult to the workplace, even though there are lots of children in the workplace. So here's what happens when fear gets in the way, right? You don't speak up, and you don't set limits and boundaries, s...
o that people much more easily walk all over you. Or this is when you get pushed around, because you don't speak up, and that's very important. Also, you miss out on opportunities for growth, because you don't raise your hand and say, 'I'll try that thing I have no idea really how to do, 'but I can figure it out,' right? And again, this is opportunities to create low-stakes environments in which to practice the things that you need to get better at. And, I think fear gets in the way when your attention is elsewhere. And what that means is, when you're afraid, you're thinking about your fear. And you're thinking about what's gonna happen if you do the thing you don't wanna do. And instead, I think it's better to think about what's happening outside in the world. When you shift your attention outside, then the fear actually disappears, or whatever the thought process or the feeling is inside tends to disappear. So, what I'm talking about here is controlling your attention, right? So let's do that right now. Let's stop everything, and take a breath. And actually tell me, where is your attention right now? Are you thinking about lunch? Are you thinking about the project that you're not doing right now? Or the client who you're waiting to hear from to hear, did they like the work that you did? Don't tell me, actually, I don't wanna know. But just think for yourself, where is your attention? And, can you shift it if it's gone away, even for a moment? Can you shift it back to the here and now? Because even people online, I wonder, are you multitasking? Or is your attention here with us, on me, but also on yourself, and listening to the things that I'm saying? This is a quote, I don't know who said it, but I heard it recently and I love it so I thought I would share it. It says, "There is only room in your mind "for a single thought. "Take care, then, to make it a positive one." Again, we can control the thoughts that go through our minds and we can decide, is it gonna be a negative one or is it gonna be a positive one? And for some reason, the habit that we get into is usually a negative one, and so that can shift if you decide to break that habit. And that takes practice. And fear is in this bigger category of feelings, right? So even a little while ago, someone said 'Are you nervous? 'Are you excited?' No, I don't want to feel anything. Because feelings get in the way of me doing my best job, because they tend to be dramatic and they demand my attention. And my attention needs to be on what I'm about to do, right? And they're often, actually, also imaginary, and a force of habit. There's something that, sometimes I think we're addicted to certain feelings, and we just keep doing them and doing them and doing them until we try to break that addiction. And also, they're ephemeral. So again, if you wait long enough, the feeling that you have, whether it's fear or nervousness or excitement, will dissipate, and something else will take its place. So this is all part of mindfulness, and if you watch your thought process, you will notice this. Alright, here's another quote, which I can't really see. Kenna, would you read it?
Certainly, it's "It the center of a shy person's anxious feeling "is the seed of the desire to achieve, "to transcend, to be worthy. "The real problem is not these feelings "in and of themselves, it is that we are letting "this particular group of feelings push us around"--
Which is the title of the course.
Exactly. So I love this idea that it's not necessarily other people who are pushing us around, it's our feelings who are pushing us around. Or, it's ourselves allowing our feelings to push us around. Like who, exactly, is pushing you around? Maybe that's my question for you. So now, just a little practical idea. This, I wanna attribute to Ellen Langer, who wrote a book called Mindfulness that I read recently, and it's on the resource page that comes along with this course. And she talks about going from 'I can't,' to 'How can I?' So again, from a statement to a question, alright? So, if you say, habitually, in this negative way, 'I can't' is a negative, 'Oh I can't do that.' My questions are: Are you sure? How do you know? Have you tried? And how could you? Making it possible. How could you, little by little, make the thing that you think you can't do, possible for yourself? That is, I think, a habit that one could get into. And here's where I wanna talk a little bit about the power of action. Because, going from 'I can't' to 'How could I' implies that you're going to actually do something. And you're probably gonna so something new, and you're going to do something different. And there is something almost magical, I don't really believe in magic but I think there is something magical that happens when you start taking action. It almost doesn't matter what the action is, because action begets momentum, and it frees you, and it frees the universe to bring things to you, to come into your life. Whereas, if you are passive, and just waiting, then nothing is going to come to you. You know, the phone is not gonna ring. The proverbial phone is not gonna ring. So there's something very important about being able to actually take action, even if the effect of your action is imperceptible to you, or maybe there's no effect. You don't know, you won't know, but it doesn't even matter. I really think the impact of your action is less important than the experience of actually taking some kind of action. So that is the suggestion. Now, what you need to know about yourself is when you work best, right? When you need a break. When you need help. These are all things, at work, that you can take control over. And my example, for myself, is that, I was telling Kenna this earlier, that if someone sends me an email asking me to do something after four p.m., the answer is just always no. For some reason I say no. But if you asked me in the morning, the answer is yes. It doesn't matter what it is, I feel much more like 'Yes I can do that' in the morning. So for all of you out there, if you ever want me to do anything for you, email me in the morning, not in the afternoon. So actually, my little workaround is in the afternoon, I just don't answer until the morning. And I look at that message, and that request, so differently in the morning. It's just amazing. So what is it about your own experience, like that, that you can find for yourself? I have another example, which is that when I'm working on something in a very focused way, and I start to make changes, like even to the presentation that I'm giving now, I started to get to a point yesterday where I was like, 'I don't need to change that, that's not important.' And the reality is, it is important, and it needs to be changed, but I can't think about it right now. So that means I need a break. I need to walk my dog, I need to get outside, I need to change the environment somehow. So what are these little hints that you may be giving yourself that you may not recognize as instructions? Can you hear what's underneath them for yourself, and then can you ask for what you need in order to do your best work, and can you provide it for yourself? Alright, those are the questions.