“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
Many people say this, but how many of us do it? I haven’t been, although I’m working on it.
After reading my memoir, THRIVE: HOW I BECAME A SUPERHERO, my friend told me, “Alexis, your superpower is courage. You’re so brave.” It’s ironic, because I didn’t see myself as a brave person – I have just as many fears as anyone else, though I do have a habit of action.
Even still, there are moments when fear gets the best of me. I have a lot of opportunities to do scary things – both professionally and personally. That said, I don’t think I’m alone in this experience. There are a lot of things that many people find scary:
Meeting new people
Sharing personal stories
Standing up for beliefs
Interviewing for a job
Trying new foods
Going a new place
Picking up bugs
Going to a new school
Telling the truth
There are more things I could add, but most of them have the same root fear: the unknown. Most fear is based on the the fact that we don’t know what will happen. We don’t know how things will go.
The Earth-shattering Question
This week my good friend Raymond Baxter, owner of The Relationship Blogger website, did something awesome. I was having a moment. I knew I needed to do something, but I just didn’t have the courage to do it. I was waffling and dragging my feet and he came out and asked:
“What will happen if you don’t do it?”
It was an earth-shattering question for me.
There’s one other moment I can recall in my life where the question was equally earth-shattering. It was 16 years ago. I was dating a guy in college and he regularly insulted me, undercut me in public conversation, and generally treated me badly. I remember the conversation vividly. I can see the room – smell it even.
“Stop doing that! Why do you keep treating me this way?” I snapped, my eyes watering. He’d just hit me over the head with an empty plastic bottle. It was playful, but the message was clear – he didn’t respect me. If he did that while playing, what would he do when he wasn’t? He froze and met my eye.
“Why do you let me?”
“I don’t know,” I mumbled, suddenly confused by my choices. I left soon after and over the course of a few hours, came to a conclusion: I could choose how I wanted to be treated. I didn’t need to put up with anything.
It was then I decided to break up with that guy. The decision sent me on a path of self-healing, increased worth, and love. It was a turning point in how I saw myself, and how I related to other people, in particular, men.
So when Raymond asked me “What will happen if you don’t do it?” I had flashbacks to that moment 16 years ago and I cried. I actually cried. Raymond’s question was exactly what I needed. I needed him to ask me this question, because sometimes, even when I know what needs to happen, I need someone to grab my shoulders and force me to confront my truth.
Ask The Question
Anyone can ask this earth-shattering question to get over fear and take action. It’s a simple process:
If you feel yourself dragging your feet or waffling, take a breath.
Ask yourself, “What could happen if I do [insert action here]?” List both the positives and negatives on a piece of paper so you can see them. If it helps, list positives on one side and negatives on another.
Then ask yourself, “What will happen if I don’t do [insert action here]?” Make this list on a separate sheet so you can look at everything at once.
Which list weighs more heavily on you? Act accordingly.
It seems like a small thing, but this can help you get over any indecision and makes things a WHOLE lot easier. While sometimes you may need someone else to ask the question (which is the benefit of a class or coach) other times it will be enough for you to ask yourself.
That said, if you find yourself hemming and hawing over the same choice for a long time, you really need the accountability of another person to ask the hard questions. This allows you to be truly honest with yourself, and that is earth-shattering
Have you asked the hard questions? Had a moment of fear you conquered? Leave a comment below!
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