How to stop hooking up with fear.
We’ve all experienced an ill-fated hook-up, a bad relationship we can’t quit, based on fear.
In the beginning, the dangerous, bordering on unhinged, is familiar and explainable – even, comfortable in its abuse (fess up, your innards screamed for you to run, but instead you decided that squinchy gut-check was l-u-r-v).
Until it’s not.
Fear is the bad boyfriend.
You love him, you hope he’ll change, so you keep him around. And the only person that gets hurt is you.
Everyone can commiserate with the angst and anxiety of clawing out of the tortuous relationship called fear – after the mini van of fear comes in hot, crashing through the wall, tearing through your favorite stuff.
In my line of work (and maybe yours), the signs of a bad boyfriend goes a little something like this:
- AMAZEBALLS IDEA!
- Organize thoughts and make ALL THE LISTS for action to implement AMAZEBALLS IDEA!
- Put list aside, with binders and markers (so many gorgeous colors) and papers on desk.
- Celebrate your forward motion with dranks and CAKE! (can’t go wrong with a Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake) and maybe a few more exclamation points – WHY NOT!!!
- Get back to list.
~ KNOCK KNOCK ~
Crap. Fear (bad boyfriend) is at the door, ready to hook-up:
Hey, this part doesn’t seem as doable today. Maybe this part should go too. And this? What was I thinking? Who do I think I am?
Fear pooped on your AMAZEBALLS IDEA! and and now it just stinks.
~ crumble list into tight ball o’death and stab with markers – the red one – make it bleed ~
Any of this sound familiar?
Fear is knocking – are you gonna hook-up, again?
Maybe. I’m not the boss of you. Do what you want.
But, what if you’re ready to kick the dictatorial jackhammer to the curb?
What if you’re ready for fear to take its miserable perspective and hit the bricks?
What does that scary forward motion look like? Feel like?
So glad you asked.
HOW TO STOP HOOKING-UP WITH FEAR.
I’ve got five steps to follow.
Let’s get to it.
1: Slap a name tag on the beast called fear.
What is stopping you (maybe it’s a who is stopping you) – exactly?
IDENTIFY what (who) you’re afraid of and say it’s name.
Bring that badboy out from the shadows of your twisty-turny innards and slap a name tag on your fear, so you’ll remember what (or, who) it is the next time you see it.
AHA! I see your name tag, fear! Shove off!
2: Have a workaround plan when fear knocks.
Or, as my FIL often asks, “What’s your Plan B?”
Ah, the old Plan B trickaroo.
It’s a given that fear is gonna show up at the worst times. Count on it. Expect it. Be ready for it.
The solution is to have a workaround ready to employ when you hear fear a’knockin’.
What is a workaround? It’s a a plan or method to circumvent a problem without eliminating it.
Isn’t the key to eliminate fear?
Nope. Not so much.
Fear can be a powerful motivator and it can keep us out of trouble.
The old if you don’t wanna get burned, don’t stick your hand in the fire rational.
Plus, just because you want to eliminate this powerhouse emotion, doesn’t mean it’s possible.
If you can eliminate fear, if you are the one person on earth able to achieve a no-fear level of being, you best bottle that stuff and start sellin’: YOU’RE GONNA BE STUPID RICH!
Fear is here to stay.
Like that weirdo stain on your favorite shirt. No matter how many times you pretreat or scrub or try a new product, fear is embedded in the fabric of our psyche.
The very best we can do is have a workaround.
3: Ignore fear’s insistent knocking and FOCUS on your workaround.
What does a workaround look like?
It’s anything proactive. It’s nothing that allows you to hold fear’s hand and get reacquainted.
It’s action, it’s forward motion, even in the smallest way.
Focus Example #1:
Set an alarm for 30 minutes and work at whatever is scaring the beegeezers outta ya.
When the alarm sounds, stop. Get up. Think of or do something else other than work for 10-15 minutes, then repeat.
What happens with this simple workaround is that once you get started, even if you think you can’t/won’t/SHAN’T!, you usually do.
Fear shrinks in the face of action.
Focus Example #2:
Workaround, based on fear of what others might think (you can substitute writing for whatever invites fear in for you):
Writing creative content for the Internet’s/family’s/friend’s/colleague’s eyes and fearing the troll’s feeding hour.
Workaround From Fear:
Set the alarm (see #1). Write an open letter to your favorite person discussing the content you wish to expound upon.
Your brain will understand that this much-favored person will be open to whatever you write. That this person will tell you to ignore the under-the-bridge dwellers. That this person will build you up and play the Rocky theme as you write ALL THE WORDS!
As you proceed in passion, you’ll forget you’re writing to your beloved audience of one. Almost effortlessly (or at least easier than you previously thought), you’ll have the outline for what it is you want to offer the Internet, trolls be damned.
A good workaround gets you started and moves you forward, where you were once paralyzed in fear.
It’s a proactive SCREW YOU, FEAR! to counter the feeling that you can’t/won’t/shouldn’t.
4: Practice – practice – practice your workaround.
When you were young and learned anything new, you took it slow and practiced – practiced – practiced.
You never even thought twice about it. You knew you had to practice to get better, to beat your siblings or friends.
Better yet, you gave yourself the grace to suck in the beginning, knowing that with practice you’d get better.
It’s still the law of the jungle.
If you are still hooking-up with fear, you need to practice your workarounds until they become second-nature.
Action > fear, ever’ danged time.
- Fear is gonna make you think you can’t.
- Fear is gonna trash-talk your dreams, making you question your abilities.
- Fear is gonna hang in when everything/everyone has gone home for the night.
It’s your job to be firm and show fear the door (and maybe let the large wooden object hit it in the ass on the way out).
The only way to have a successful break-up with fear (that stinkin’ bad boyfriend) is by practicing what you’re gonna do/say/think when fear starts knocking its bony fingers o’dream killers, expecting an easy hook-up.
The next time fear snatches you by the short hairs, remember your workaround and get started.
CAVEAT: You may not feel like the practice is worth the effort, especially if fear is exhausting your get-up-and-go, but when you’re learning anything new, practice is key.
5: Understand and accept that fear is a part of growth.
Life is a continuous warped two-step of avoiding a noogie, while leaning in for a cuddle.
We all get the noogie at some point, so have a plan.
Growth is hard and you might be playing on a new field, learning a new game, where everything is intimidating and confusing.
Fear thrives on intimidating and confusing.
Once you accept that you will feel fear, that it may overwhelm your senses, that you may need a good cry whilst quivering nose-to-nose with fear, then, and ONLY then, will you be able to stop hooking-up with the one thing that may be keeping you from all that you want to experience.
Fear will bust through the door and run the joint if you let it.
Think of it in terms of having a nasty relative, spoiling family functions with their foul-mouthed opinions about your life-choices. If you allow them to park their behinds in your comfy recliner, flame-throwing insults, then that’s what they’re gonna do.
But, if you tell them to shut their dirty pieholes, or you’ll shut it for them, well, then you’re free, aren’t you?
Plus, holy hell that’s fun.
What? Fantasy is a viable way to problem-solve.
Not one of us gets out of this life without feelings fear’s annihilating touch.
At least we’re all in life, right?
It should be noted here, that fear is evil. Fear is not of God.
Repeatedly, God instructs us to fear not, to not be afraid.
Fear of the Lord is a topic for another day, but in that instance, we are referring to reverence, not the evil spirit of fear.
The best thing you can do is know thy enemy.
Sun Tzu was a wise man. The “know thy enemy” quote comes from him.
(affiliate linkage below at no cost to you!)
You know the book: Art of War – and this is what defeating fear is: W-A-R.
Know thyself; know thy enemy.
Having a workaround is key to upending fear’s strength.
Once you accept fear will keep knocking, once you have a Plan B ready to go, you’re golden.
Stop answering the knock; stop hooking-up with fear.
Have anything to add? Would love to discuss in the comment section.
Original Post: September 21, 2017 ~ Updated Post: February 10, 2022