Happiness,  Inner Critic,  Self care

Facing Fear: A New Question for That Voice in Our Heads

When Henry Ford said “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eye off your goal” he was right. While some delight in constant change, when challenged to try something new, the first thing many of us feel is fear. Call it fear of failure. Or fear of the unknown. Or fear of missing out. A knot in the stomach or a dry mouth. Why question it? Plain old fear of we don’t know what can be enough.

As readers of The Inner Critic Advantage know, those feelings are usually simple early warning signs. Despite hoping for and planning on delight, your inner knower (in some circles known as your B.S. detector) is responsible for freaking out. Remember, its job is to ask “Are we really ready for this?” “Are we going to mess up?” “Are we going to DIE????” (Yeah, that part of the brain can be a tad bit dramatic from time to time.) Truth is, sometimes we might not be ready for the goal we’ve set.

At this point, there’s often a temptation to point at an obstacle and adopt it as a shield. After all, that big, hairy, scary obstacle is an excuse that any of our family or friends would accept. Nobody has to choose voluntary growth or change — there’s enough that life throws at us in other ways.

That Inner Voice: To Honor or To Fear?

It’s not always easy to remember that fear is a normal emotion. It serves a purpose. There are things we *should* be afraid of. Nevertheless, we don’t have to allow fear and worry to keep us from chasing our dreams and tackling big goals. But to honor that inner voice we may need to take smaller steps. I like to imagine facing fears like crossing a brook or a river — choosing smooth, flat stones to get across without a dramatic ‘kerschplatt!’

Regular readers know I’m a big fan of solving the right problem. When trying to make a change or do something for the first time defining the right problem combined with the way we talk to ourselves offers a great starting point

When facing a big change I often ask, “Can I do this thing (fill in your own blank) _______ with my friend?” That’s usually a trigger for that inner critic to tell me ‘no’ in a dozen different ways.

I experienced that when a friend invited me to participate in a 5K  mud run. I made the mistake of wondering, “Can I do this?” I live with a chronic pain condition and the part of my brain that houses my survival mechanisms started screaming at me. “No, no, no, no, no.”

I really wanted to participate, so I brought out the heavy artillery: I gave my brain a new question to chew on.

“HOW can I do the mud run with my friend?”

Raining Down Ideas

The tension immediately started to dissipate so I tossed it another version of the same question: “What needs to happen between now and February so that I can manage the mud run?”

Guess what? That formerly freaked out brain started raining down suggestions that would help get those obstacles out of the way. By opening up to the idea that “x” (in this case x = mud run) is possible, the big, lumbering, less conscious part of the brain goes to work on finding solutions.

Adding one simple word moved me out of anxiety and into solutions. How. That one simple, lovely word opened doors to trying something new, making new friends, and having a whole lot of fun.


It’s Easy to Tweet About This

[bctt tweet=”That one simple, lovely word opened doors.” username=”AndreaPatten”]

[bctt tweet=”There’s often a temptation to point at an obstacle and use it as a shield.” username=”AndreaPatten”]

[bctt tweet=”Nevertheless, we don’t have to allow fear to keep us from chasing our dreams and tackling big goals. ” username=”AndreaPatten”]




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  • Vatsala Shukla

    Henry Ford was definitely right about fear, Andrea. I love the way you’ve simplified getting out of the fear factor zone and into the winners one with a simple word. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  • Barb Wickland

    This is a great idea, Andrea. A simple question, How? It’s so easy to get caught up in a moment of fear (and sometimes panic), and it’s nice to have a simple solution to apply to those situations. Time to retrain the brain to ask how!

  • Heather Maria

    That message definitely hits home. “That one word opened doors” It makes such a huge difference to our brain. Shuts down any ego and opens up our soul, our soul to our mind. I tend to meditate. I talk to my own mind, my own soul. I talk from my own spirit, my own brain. It helps to receive assistance and answers from your own consciousness. One that doesn’t always talk in words, but hears you. Our brain can sometimes get over loaded. It picks up on fear. It picks up on ego, but not our consciousness, not our soul. If we ask for something, intuitively it will come to us. It is always to not let fear or anything else get in our way. Especially when our gut, our soul, our instincts tell us what we can gain from something.

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