How often do we talk about our failings or our insecurities? Not often enough. Here is #4 of the six phrases you shouldn’t be afraid to say…

I’m Afraid

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

“I can’t go into those places and just sell myself.”

“Why not?”

“I’m afraid.”

“What is it that you are you afraid of?”

“I’m afraid I’m not skinny enough or pretty enough. They’ll look at me and think, ‘Her at the front of a class motivating people? I don’t think so.’

“So you are afraid they will reject you based on your looks?”

“Yes…and” [long pause] “I guess I’m just afraid of being rejected in any form. I keep telling myself, the worst that they can say is ‘No’ and that I shouldn’t be afraid. But I still am.”

Even the most confident person can have fears. The conversation above was between me and my peer coach, Tricia. We were discussing how I could market myself in local yoga and Pilates’ studios. All I could think of was Tricia’s smiling face and peaches and cream complexion. Sure, it was easy for her to go to a yoga studio and pitch her classes. But for me to do so? That short, overweight, bad-complexioned, frumpy me? The thought of it was, well, terrifying.

Of all the six phrases, “I’m afraid” seems to be the farthest from being ‘strong’ or ‘liberating’ – but even this admission has its place. If you look at your life and how you want to change it – or even just realizing the need for change – you will find the cracks begin to appear. We are not as strong as we want to be, as brave as we wish we could be, or as on target as we hope to be. We are a work in progress, each of us.

By acknowledging a fear, however small and insignificant (or large and overwhelming) it may be, we turn our attention to it. Instead of ignoring the fear and hiding it away, it is there, in the open and demanding we pay attention to it. Sometimes focusing our intent upon a fear, and asking “And then what?” allows us move towards conquering the fear and removing another obstacle from our path.

The admission of fear can be a catalyst. For me, I recognized that, even though I was afraid of rejection, by not putting myself out there and marketing myself in ways that I was uncomfortable with I was in essence rejecting myself before the fact. As I analyzed our discussion in the week following I came to realize that it was essential that I change my approach and push beyond my comfort zone. A few weeks later I showered, put on makeup, did my hair, and wore an outfit I felt confident and pretty in. I walked into six different studios and promoted my classes and life coaching services, effectively conquering my fears of rejection by attacking them straight on.

It’s okay to be afraid. It’s natural. In some cases it can serve as a boundary between what you will do and what you simply unwilling to do. For example, I won’t become an entomologist (a scientist who studies insects) or learning snake-charming anytime soon. I recognize my fears of such creatures and have no inclination to change my views.

However, I did recognize my need to overcome my fears of marketing my classes face-to-face with other people – especially those who I deemed prettier, shapelier, or more weight-appropriate than I. I realized I needed to be effective in person as well as over the phone or via email. Use your fear to your advantage. Recognize it, accept it, and then avoid fear-inducing events or turn them to your favor and conquer them.

Coming next week…#5 – “I’m Sorry”