Is There More to What You Are Afraid Of?
Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes
How can you figure out if what you think you are afraid of is really what you are afraid of or if you are afraid of something else?
How many times have you allowed fear to convince you of something? How many times have you been convinced you know the exact reason you are afraid of something? Have you ever questioned yourself to see if the thing you are afraid of is something different than what you think you are afraid of?
For many years, I dealt with the fear of making a mistake. I would work so hard and try to make everything perfect. I would do and re-do things time and time again because I was afraid of making a mistake, or so I thought. I started to consider what else could be causing my fear. Was I afraid of making a mistake, or was it something else?
Looking back on my life, I looked for something to validate my fear. What mistake had I made that was so bad that I would be afraid of making it again? While I could not remember a specific mistake, I remembered being bullied for things I did as a kid. I thought surely that was it. I thought the bullying must have been the reason I was so afraid to make a mistake. This answer made sense to me at a conscious level. However, there was still something missing. I still had a nagging feeling that there was more.
As I looked deeper, I thought about times people left me because of what I assumed were the number of mistakes I made. While I could not remember anyone directly saying they were leaving me because I was a screw-up, the thought of it made sense to me. Then, I realized an important word in my thought process – assumed. I assumed they left me because I made too many mistakes. What if I was wrong? What if there was another reason friendships and relationships ended?
I then asked myself a terrifying and difficult question. What is the root cause of my fear of making a mistake? What is that thing I am afraid to confront that has led me to a fear of making a mistake? As I considered what that could be, I realized something. Historically, when I made a mistake, I would not be happy with myself. I would beat myself up over even the smallest of mistakes. I always assumed that was happening because I was afraid my mistakes would drive people away. What if, it was not the mistake that was driving people away? What if it was my reaction to my mistake that was driving people away?
That is when the lightbulb went on for me. It was my reaction to my mistakes that was driving people away not the mistakes themselves. I realized that, if I would change how I reacted to my mistakes and continue to work on fixing both the reactions and the mistakes, people in my life would give me the love, space, and time I needed. I also realized that, so long as I was continually fixing the reactions, fixing the mistakes I make and doing the best I could to prevent them from happening again, the people who left anyway were not meant to be in my life.
Whether it is being afraid of making a mistake or anything else you are afraid of, I invite you to keep digging until you find the root cause of why you are afraid. To do this, I invite you to ask questions of yourself like a child. You have probably known or seen a child that continually asks, “But why?”. Continue asking yourself, “But why?” until you run out of answers. When you run out of answers then you are as close as you can get at that point to the root cause of your feelings. You are as close as you can get at that point to identifying what you are afraid of. Act based on your newfound awareness. If things do not improve, talk to a coach, mentor or therapist who will ask you questions you had not thought of to get you to uncover that thing you are afraid of.
Uncover the root cause of your fears, thoughts, feelings, and emotions by continually asking yourself, “But why?”
How this applies to authentic empathy…
When it comes to authentic empathy and figuring out if what you think you are afraid of is really what you are afraid of or if you are afraid of something else, giving yourself authentic empathy to be wrong about what you are afraid of is key. When we are afraid of something and think about being wrong, we are adding one more piece of unnecessary stress to ourselves. When this happens, I invite you to pause for a moment and give yourself the permission to be wrong. I invite you to say to yourself, “It is ok if I am wrong about what I thought I was afraid of. The most important thing is that I start to figure out the root cause of what I am afraid of and then do something about it.” This will give you a chance to start fresh today and make positive steps forward.
How this applies to WACASHWI…
When it comes to WACASHWI and figuring out if what you think you are afraid of is really what you are afraid of or if you are afraid of something else, getting to the root cause of your feelings and the fears that drive you will empower you to put items on the list to overcome those fears. I invite you to look at every fear as valid and something to be overcome. When you focus on overcoming the root cause of your fears first, you will find that your solutions will also resolve other fears you have. Many times, taking care of one root cause resolves multiple fears. This means that you will also save time and energy by first figuring out the root cause of your fears and then putting the plan in place to overcome them.
Your daily invitations…
- I invite you to think about your most pressing fear.
- I invite you to consider what the root cause of that fear could be.
- I invite you to write down your thoughts, feelings, and actions in your journal.
- I invite you to talk about what you are going through with a coach, mentor or therapist and decide what additional tools you need to overcome that fear.
Final step – how will you implement one thing you learned today in your life?