By GGTW reader and contributor T.S.
Today, I want to talk about the F-word. No, not that one! What kind of blog post do you think this is?! I’m talking about the other F-word: FEAR.
But first, I’d like to give you a little information about me so you have a better understanding of my perspective. Today I’m going to share some things I learned when I was a gymnast in college. To be a gymnast, you accept a certain amount of fear as part of your every day life. You also accept (and quite frankly, demand) the confidence in yourself to stand up to that fear, push through it, and come out on the other side – maybe a little bruised and worn out, but definitely stronger and more confident.
I think fear tells us more about ourselves than any other emotion. It’s the voice in our head that screams our truth. I’m a huge believer in listening to that voice. But I also know it’s what you choose to do with what you hear that has the power to change your world.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I believe in fear. Fear is healthy, and I’m neither against the emotion, nor advocating that you ignore it. But if fear isn’t helping us, it’s hurting us and that’s where I take issue. I think in those moments, we have to really step back and examine what it is fear is doing to us.
When fear helps us, it can be life-saving. Fear is a valid and critical emotion that has protected humans from legitimate threats throughout history. One of the most interesting books I’ve read on this type of protective fear is “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin De Becker, and I encourage you to read it.
But if fear paralyzes you from making decisions, or prevents you from engaging with someone or something that brings you joy, I’m here to tell you: That type of fear has no place in your life.
As a gymnast, when you’re learning a new skill, there can be a lot of fear involved. Once you acknowledge the fear of doing something new, the trick to building your confidence and pushing through the fear is to rely on your practice, muscle memory, and technique. The amount of practice is insane – you practice with a coach spotting you, you practice in the foam pit, you practice on the low beam, you practice on the low bar…you get my point. The multiple ways to practice skills provide built-in safety features, and training techniques are designed to help you overcome your fear and not injure yourself.
Once you’ve trusted your practice, you must rely on your courage to trust yourself. It’s a big moment when you do a new skill for the first time. The fear is still there, but you have to trust yourself and trust that your practice prepared you for the moment. And then you do it. You throw the skill you’ve been practicing, and maybe you don’t land it, or maybe your form was awful. But you did it!
With each attempt, you build your confidence, and with your newfound confidence comes more confidence, and it builds and it builds until one day you realize, you’re not afraid to do that skill at all. In fact, it’s become your favorite skill to do. Maybe that’s why I loved gymnastics so much. Most of the time, it scared the crap out of me, but I kept going to practice.
My hope is that you begin to use fear to inspire you. Don’t use it as an excuse or a reason not to do something. If it doesn’t scare you, why are you doing it? Bust out of your comfort zone, and get comfortable with the unknown.
Of course I’m not advocating for blind faith or throwing caution to the wind and doing things that put you in harm’s way. But with calculated risk, a measured approach, and practice, you can reduce the fear and move forward confidently, for I believe confidence is the enemy of fear.
You don’t have to become a gymnast to gain confidence and overcome fear. (You can relax now.) Practice being confident. Practice with the small stuff, and then move on to the big stuff. The class you’re afraid to take? Sign up! The meeting you want to speak up in at work? Do it! Let them hear your voice!
The more you practice pushing through your fear, the more confident you’ll become and the more frequently you’ll look fear right in the eye and tell it to fuck off. Yep, I went there. #TheOtherF-Word.
Do you have something to say? Words of wisdom to share with our community? An experience that can inspire and empower others? Send it to us and we may publish your entry like we did this one! (And we’ll send you some cool GGTW swag.)