Fear .. are you afraid too? Can we just talk about it?
As parents, educators, leaders and just people, we all feel fear. We know that the greatest gift we can give our relationships is to be vulnerable. Being able to talk about our fears is a key step to being open and authentically connected. Talking about our own vulnerabilities is a direct invitation to the other person to share their own fears. Whether it is a parent /child, educator/ student, executive / staff relationship; when you talk about your fear you are creating an opportunity to take your relationship to a place where real engagement, connection, safety, learning and wellbeing occurs.
I am afraid. What if I do something wrong? What if I am not enough? What If I fail you? We are all scared. Fear is present in every single person’s life. And real or not when we feel fear it can be beyond horrible. People are scared to reveal their fears because they feel so exposed and then vulnerable. If others know what am really scared about how will they see me? Will they still be my friend and will I still have their respect?
Imagine living in a world where we could just be open. When someone asks how you really are, you can say, “Well I’m actually terrified I won’t have enough in the bank to cover the mortgage? “ or “ I’m scared every day that I don’t look pretty enough.”
At work imagine conversations where the boss says; “I’m really overwhelmed with all I have to do and there are just times where I worry that I’m not enough” As I type that I can almost feel some executives recoil in horror with the idea that they could ever be THAT vulnerable with their staff! Yet imagine the power of that moment because you can bet your life that the staff member you are saying it to has most definitely felt that way at some stage.”
Whilst women are generally better at sharing their feelings it is not always the case when it comes to talking about their actual real fears. Will they be judged as not enough in the eyes of their friends and family?
Men receive a tough deal when it comes to emotions. Something happens to boys when they leave primary school and go into high school. I see so many lose their own connection to emotion. In an effort to fit in, belong and sometimes to feel safe in their families; they shove their feelings way way down and emerge into adulthood with more masks than can be found at a masquerade ball.
Now before you comment and tell me that you talk really openly with your dear soul sisters, if you do that then I am not talking about you. I know that there are exceptions. My dear friend Shaun Proulx is a fellow who is very open and honest about his feelings and fears which brings an ease into the way he relates to the world. Thank god for that.
I am talking here about cultural change. If only we could all talk about our fears in a real and authentic way? Imagine the relief? Imagine if that was part of our culture?
The last 3 years of my life have been full of serious fears about many aspects of my personal life. I am a pretty open and if you follow me you will know that I’ve spoken honestly about my painful PTSD, my marriage changing shape, and a few ups and downs here and there. I’m open about those things but am I honest about what I’m afraid of? I can say yes as I know the value and the freedom that’s comes with talking about my fear. But lately I have seen that even the way I work with my fear needs another overhaul. So here I am!
To get honest with others we need to be honest with ourselves. I am constantly looking at myself. I love myself enough to do this. As I emerge from a bout of pneumonia I have had to the time in between long sleeps to reflect and really get clear about my relationship with the shadow side of myself; where all my fears reside.
I am now taking the steps to activity love my fears and bathe them in kindness and compassion. Each time I talk about them they feel lighter and by just having someone listen and care helps my fears become less and less powerful. One by one my fears are shifting and, in the place, where my fear once was I am finding grace. This is giving me such peace.
Ultimately our fears are our friends and they are showing us what we need to pay attention to. I am of course not the first to suggest this however it rings home to me. You deserve to feel the freedom from your fears too.
Finding someone who will listen kindly, show some empathy and sometimes just being able to say your fear out loud even to your self is the beginning of releasing the power it has over you. To be comfortable saying our fears out load especially in the workplace we need to feel comfortable enough (notice I said ‘enough’) with the process of being vulnerable. It is actually easier than you think.
Before I go I want to leave some questions for you here. You can answer in the comments section or you can just simply reflect on these yourself.
1. Do you talk openly about your real fears to someone kind and safe?
2. How comfortable are you being vulnerable with friends, family and at work?
3. Can you imagine a world where talking about our fears was the accepted norm? What would that be like for you?