I heard a cool acronym for "fear" recently, and I love it and hate it at the same time.
Fear can be exaggerated, sure. But I don’t want you to dismiss its messages, as we always have something to learn. By listening and shifting, we can begin to reclaim our voice, leverage our power and make an impact!
The Skinny on Fear
Fear is a daily occurrence for us. On a large scale, if we’re in unhealthy relationships or environments. But micro-occurrences can also cause us to react from a place of fear in the moment. What irks me about all this is that it alters how we feel, quiets our strength and voice, and ultimately affects the impact we have on our career and life.
That state of fight, flight or freeze is real. It’s what our ancestors had to do when they were on constant alert of being eaten by a tiger. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll be involved in a tussle with a hungry predator in our lifetime, but so often we operate with a constant sense of fear – fear of failure, of not “fitting in,” of being judged – it’s endless. We exaggerate what’s happening around us based on our own perceptions, past hurt or trauma or, as the acronym says, the evidence appears very real.
Handling Fear in the Workplace
Regardless of your profession, fear has an impact on the way you show up. There are many circumstances in the world of work that cause us to feel fear. Stepping out of our comfort zone, making the pitch, leading people, working with someone during a conflict, imposter syndrome, ethical concerns, learning something new, navigating spoken/unspoken rules, and the list could go on.
This is why ignoring your fear, or dismissing it as fake, isn’t productive. I realize that our reactions can be exaggerated, but our feelings are very real and should be addressed.
Instead of dismissing your reactions and feelings, take time to pause and ask yourself 3 key questions:
– What am I feeling?
– What has happened to make me feel this way?
– What action can I take about these feelings?
I don’t recommend deliberating whether the fear is valid or real. I’d rather you honor it, and yourself, by acknowledging where you are right now. Then determine where you can go next.
Fear Changes You
These macro- or micro-occurrences of fear can build up and lead to physical and emotional health issues. As a result, we continue to take steps down our “impact ladder,” minimizing our power in order to protect ourselves.
When the fear is big or builds up over time, we can become anxious and our joy is stolen. Did you know one in four people experiences an anxiety disorder and 8% experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
I’m no stranger to the effects of fear in life or at work. I’m a domestic abuse survivor, lived through a four-car accident, and live with the looming (irrational) fear of not severely screwing up the two humans I’ve been entrusted with. At work, I’ve survived extreme bullying, feeling misunderstood, struggling with a major career decision for over two years, and now all the fears that come along with being an entrepreneur and running my businesses.
I’ve been there and I’m still there. It’s ok to be there with me.
Fear is a daily occurrence for us all. So much so, that your brain tries to change focus every four seconds, scanning your surroundings for danger or something more interesting. Embrace this aspect, honor your feelings, and take action to move through the fear to maximize your impact.
This is the first in a 7-week series, “Reclaiming Your Voice At Work.” During week 1, I’ll be talking more about how fear affects our voice and our outcomes.
Join the conversation on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram this week. I’d love to hear your comments on how fear affects you, the ideas that I am sharing, and any suggestions you have for me and our community!
Peace and Progress On Your Journey,
p.s. This is the first in a 7-week series, “Reclaiming Your Voice At Work.” During week 1, I’ll be talking more about how fear affects our voice and our outcomes. Week 2 will discuss leaderships’ impact on the strength of our voice.
p.p.s. Join the conversation on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram this week. I’d love to hear your comments on how fear affects you, the ideas that I am sharing and any suggestions you have for me and the community!