Managing Fear
Ep. 275
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Managing Fear

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In this podcast episode, I explore the pervasive role of fear in our lives, particularly when pursuing dreams and change. Fear, often rooted in the fear of failure and negative emotions, can paralyze us. The key is to confront these fears by answering critical questions about the worst-case scenarios. Realizing that we can handle these emotions empowers us to take risks and move forward. Listen for the questions you should be asking yourself to face fear head-on and get to where you want.

Show Transcript
Hey! Welcome to Lessons from a Quitter where we believe that it is never too late to start over. No matter how much time or energy you've spent getting to where you are. If ultimately you are unfulfilled, then it is time to get out. Join me each week for both inspiration and actionable tips so that we can get you on the road to your dreams.
Hello my friends and welcome to another episode. I'm so excited to have you here. As I mentioned last week, I have a new quiz that will help you figure out if it's time for you to quit or not. I know so many people stay stuck for so long trying to figure out am I ready to go? Should I stay? Should I try to work on it? Should I not? After coaching hundreds of people, I've created kind of a roadmap that will help you figure out what stage you're in, what you need to be focusing on, and I'm gonna give it to you. And so you can get over all of the overwhelm. You take this two minute quiz and it'll tell you what stage you're on. And then more importantly, it will give you a guide. It's like a 20 page PDF depending on your stage, that will tell you what three things to focus on in the next six months so that you can figure out what you wanna do and create your plan and go after it. And you can not be worried about 10 steps ahead. You can not get stuck in overwhelm and spinning about trying to figure out the whole plan. You can figure out where you are, know where you wanna go, and have the steps to do it, and it's yours free. So go to, take that quiz and get that guidebook and yeah, let me know if that helps.
Okay, on to today's episode. I ha, coach people. I will say that the vast majority of things that I coach them on is fear, right? Some kind of fear. Typically what gets in most of our way is a fear of it not going the way that we want.
Like if going after our dreams, if creating a life we want, if trying new things was simply knowing how, if it was simply having the steps, we would all do it. You could just Google it, right? You could Google the steps to start a business. You could read a book on how to market, you could, you know, whatever it is. You, you could figure out negotiation skills so that you could ask for the raise you want and go for that promotion, whatever it was. Like the information is out there on Google, on the internets, on the streets. That's not the hard part. The hard part is, is that as soon as you go to even admit what you want, if you wanna build a business, if you wanna, whatever it is you wanna do, your lovely brain comes up with tons of reasons why you can't have it.
And usually those beliefs, those thoughts are centered around fears that we have, right? The fear of failure, the fear of rejection, the fear of embarrassment, the fear of being judged, the fear of success, the fear of what would people would think of me if I kind of get too big for my britches. The fear of, like I said, not being supported, being rejected, whatever, whatever the fear is for you, it's usually some type of fear.
And so, needless to say, a lot of what we coach on is on fear. And a lot of that is if you've been around here for a while, you know, I coach a lot on thought work and like how you manage your own thoughts. But I wanna teach you today like what I want you to do, like a very practical way of handling your fear. Because what I see happen over and over again is that we want some dream or we want to go after something, or we're even just contemplating some new change in our lives and then we get flooded with a lot of questions, okay?
And your brain is very tricky because if there's an unanswered question, then it sort of feels like, well, we can't move forward until we answer this question. And if I ask it in a way that's a question instead of a statement, then it seems more real.
Like if I say like, what if I fail, instead of I'm going to fail. Because if I say I'm going to fail, it's sort not easier. But it might be easier for you to realize like, well, that's not a truth. How can I know if I'm gonna fail or not? Right? Or maybe I'm being a little dramatic, or clearly my brain is trying to like freak out 'cause I don't know if I'm gonna fail.
But if I ask like, what if I'm gonna fail? What if I fail? Then it's like, yeah, what if, 'cause there is a possibility that I fail, right? And so our brain asks it in the form of a question and we very much get tied into like, yeah, what if, what if I fail? What if I don't make enough money to make ends meet? What if I lose my house? What if my wife divorces me because we don't have enough money? What if my parents don't support me? What if everyone thinks I'm crazy? What if I look like a fool? What if, what if, what if? Right? And so we spin in these questions and it seems as though it's very like not only important but the truth. Like I really have to think about every single one of these questions. And the problem is, is that we never answer them. We just spin in the question over and over and over again. And it's these like never ending rhetorical questions that there is no finite answer to.
Because how could we know what's gonna happen? And so our brain knows what it's doing. Because if I just spin in what if land and there's no answer for me to give it because how, how do I know what's gonna happen with this business if I haven't started it? If there's no answer and I can't answer it, then I'll just stay stuck forever. And I want you to hear me on this.
I think a lot of people don't realize this. 'cause I always ask people like, what do you gain by thinking this thought? Like what is, you know, the benefit to you? And they'll always say like, there is no benefit. It just feels horrible. I stay stuck. I feel immobilized, I'm paralyzed. I don't do anything. I'm frustrated. But that's not true. There is a gain. And the gain is that you stay stuck.
Your brain wants you to stay stuck because as long as you stay stuck, then you're not doing the scary thing. You're not going out there and building the business. You're not going out there and trying the hard thing. You're not putting yourself out there for, you know, embarrassment or ridicule or shame. And so your brain's only job is to keep you safe. It doesn't care if you're happy. It wants you to stay alive. And everything that it has learned through evolution is that the more you just stick with what you know and you don't go against the crowd and you don't, you know get ostracized and you don't take really big risks and you don't do something that you're so afraid of, then you'll stay safe. And so it wants you to stay stuck. It asks you these questions on purpose because the more you kind of stay stuck in this fear and you don't take these risks, the more you're likely to just do what you've always done and be safe, right?
Except for that you're miserable and you're unhappy and you're not really in that much danger. If you take these risks, it's not as though we're leaving a cave and we're gonna get eaten by a tiger. You're gonna try something and you might fail at it, right? But for our brains, like we don't know the difference, like it viscerally feels as though like, if I don't get the support of my parents or if I fail and my classmates see this, that's the end of my life. And that's not true. It's not. But your brain thinks it is.
So here's what I want you to do. Here's how I want you to deal with the fear that comes up every single day and help you kind of move past it. It's super simple. I want you to answer the question, okay? I want you to stop letting your brain get away with asking you rhetorical questions all the time.
I want there to be an answer. I want you to have a dialogue with your brain. It might seem crazy. You might think like, well I don't really wanna be talking to myself. But you do it anyway in your head all the time. So when your brain says, oh my God, what if we start this business and we fail? I want you to answer that. Yeah. What if we fail? What would I do? Okay?
I truly want you to know that is a possibility. I could go out on my own, I could put up this money and it could fail. What would happen? Well, I might lose some money. How much money would I lose? I wanna get really specific. Okay? Let's say I'm gonna make an investment of like $20,000 into this business. I might lose $20,000. Okay? What else I might lose, you know, six months of my life or whatever you wanna think you're gonna lose. I might, if I'm gonna quit, I might lose opportunity to work at that office again and that business again, okay?
I want you to write it down and I want you to go to the worst case scenario first, okay? Because that's what your brain is so afraid of. So like part of the problem here is that a lot of times I think if we think we out, we can outrun it or we can, sort of push it down, we can forget about it. But the problem is the fear doesn't go anywhere, right? It's like that monster that's living under your bed as a child. It's like it's not going anywhere until you lift up the covers and you look at it and you're like, oh, it's actually, there's not really much there, right? I was just imagining things. It's the same thing with your fear.
Because what happens most of the time for people is that when they go to the worst case scenario, they start realizing, oh, this is something I can handle, right? For a lot of people when I ask, like let's say they're gonna start a side hustle. They're not even gonna quit their job, they're gonna start a side hustle and they're worried they're gonna fail. And it's like, okay, let's go to that scenario. You put it out there, you put it on Instagram, you ask people to buy it, nobody buys it. You get crickets, right? I don't know, I guess like what is that? When we decide we failed? Like who even knows what failure is when failure is decided? It's just a thought. So like if you decide that that means it failed, fine, we're gonna go with it. You failed. What happened? And usually it's like I, I have to feel a negative emotion. I'm gonna have to feel embarrassment, I'm gonna have to feel some shame. Okay? Can you do that?
Because if you can, and let me give you a spoiler alert, you can, 'cause you're used to feeling negative emotions all the time and it's just a vibration in your body. Once you realize that, you're like, there's really not much to be afraid of. This is what I'm so scared of is that I'm gonna have to feel some embarrassment. Okay? Am I willing to feel embarrassment in order for the opportunity to go after a dream or to learn something? Or am I gonna stay frustrated and stuck and bitter and resentful so that I don't at some point have to feel some embarrassment and shame? Right? Notice how we're like trading negative emotions. We're like, well I don't wanna go after that big dream 'cause I'm afraid of how I'll feel if I fail.
So I'll just feel terrible here. Not going after my dream. It doesn't make much sense. But truly I want you to like when you go after, when you go to that worst case scenario and you lay it all out, what it does is it starts showing you like a what could actually happen? Because in our brain, when it's left unchecked, when it's just a rhetorical question, when you're not answering it, your brain really does think like we're gonna die. Like it it, it's like the end of the world. Like if I fail at this, oh my god, I can't even comprehend because I'm gonna end up losing everything. I'm gonna become homeless and I'll likely die. Right? And you're like, is that actually gonna happen? Hmm, probably not, right? The worst case scenario is I'll lose some money or I'll have, be embarrassed or I'll have to hear, I told you so. Or I'll have to go back and get a job.
I hear this all the time. I've so many coaching glides that I've coached on when they're like truly miserable in their jobs and then they're so terrified of quitting and going after whatever it is they're gonna go after. And then I ask them this question, okay? Like, well let's go to that worst case scenario. What happens? And we map out like let's say they have a year's worth of savings, right? And so you're like, okay, you have a year's worth of savings.
Let's say at six months you still haven't gotten a job, you're still not getting a paycheck. And so you realize that savings is dwindling down a little bit and it's time to like come up with a plan B. What are you gonna do? And literally nine times outta 10 without miss a be a beat, they'll say like, well, I'd get another job.
It's like, yeah, you'd be in the exact same scenario you are right now, right? And I think we're all so scared 'cause we think like, well, if I leave, then what if I can't get another job? And again, it's like the what ifs. And you just wanna answer that. What if you can't? What would you do then? And like, is it really true that you can't, could you get any kind of job? What kind of job would you need? It's not to say there are no consequences, right? I'm not trying to say like oftentimes the consequences are much less than what we think they are. Somebody I just recently heard, like somebody said like fear is like a mile wide and a foot deep where it's like, it seems so big, but if you stand up, it's not that like it's nothing, it's not that scary.
You can come up with the solution to it pretty easily. And that's what answering the question does for you is like it lays it out. Let's say if I look at my numbers and I'm like, if I'm gonna quit, I have a year long runway, okay? I don't have to wait until I'm out of money in order to course correct. If I look at the worst case scenario is I quit my job, I don't find another job, my business doesn't take off, I don't make any more money. I run outta money, right? And then I can't make my expenses, okay? There's a lot of steps that are gonna have to happen before we get there, right? I now know what my runway is. I now know how much you know time I have, I know how much money I have. So let's say six months into it, I can start course correcting.
I can say like, Hey, my business still hasn't brought in any money and I don't want to run outta money before I start working. So what I'm gonna do is maybe get a part-time job and bring in some income. It won't replace all of my expenses while I keep building the business, right? Or maybe I'm gonna freelance on the side and take a couple of gigs here and there, or maybe I'm gonna ask for a loan for my family. Or maybe I'm gonna, you know, downsize and give up my apartment and go move in with my friend. Maybe I'm gonna get a roommate. Maybe I'm gonna start renting out one of my rooms on Airbnb or I'm gonna babysit for people on Rover. Whatever the hell you're gonna come up with. But there are a lot of strategies to come up with when you know the obstacles that you're facing.
And what happens is, for most of you, you have these like boogeyman obstacles. You have no idea what obstacles you're facing because you don't ever answer the question. You're just like, yeah, but what if? But what if? What if it does? I'll go to hell. What if it all fails? What if everybody hates me? It's like, well that's likely not gonna happen, but let's just go there, I guess. And so I want you to go to whatever that worst case scenario is for you, right? I want you to let your brain go to wherever it's gonna go because it's very easy to quickly see that either A, the worst case scenario is not that bad. I, I would say like half the time I do this exercise with my clients, it's either super basic, it's like what's the worst case? Like it fails and I shut down my Instagram account. Okay, can you handle that? Can you handle some negative emotion?
Or B, if it is bad, if it is like, yeah, you know, I'm giving up my shares in this company or I'm gonna give up, you know, I don't know the like I'm gonna burn some bridges. I can't go back to this company. Okay, what would I do then? Am I willing to take that risk? If I'm not fine then maybe I stop torturing myself and we decide like this is just too big of a risk for me to take. I'm gonna have to try something else. I'm gonna have to like do a side hustle. I can then strategize what I wanna do. Or I realize like, yeah, it is a risk, but it's a calculated one. And like if worst came to worst, I would get a job somewhere else. I likely have a big enough network.
Like most of the people I coach, most of the people that are here, if you're high achievers, you likely wouldn't have a problem getting another job. You know you can do it. You just don't want that discomfort, right? You don't want the discomfort of going through that. And it's like, well what if it's not good as the job I have? Yeah, what if it's not, let's answer that. Is it still worth the risk? Like we have to at some point take a risk and am I willing to take that risk? Because now I know the obstacles that I'm facing. Now I know that like, okay, the worst case scenario is I'm gonna have to maybe job hunt a little bit until I find another fit that's better. What if it's way better than I already had? I don't know. You know, like you could take your brain there too.
Tim Ferriss has a TED talk about this and his, he calls this fear setting instead of like goal setting, right? It's like just going to the worst case and then being able to like have kind of these strategies to course correct if things don't go right. And I just think for so many of us, what I have found, like I said, through coaching so many people, what I've found is that for the most part, what we are so deathly afraid of is feeling a negative emotion. That's it for most people. The what ifs is simply like, what if he breaks up with me? What if they don't like me? What if everybody judges me? What if I get fired? Even that it's not the getting fired that people are so scared of. Like a lot of people, I'm not saying finances don't have anything to do with it again, but I think for the most part, a lot of us know that we can get another job that will just go, it's the shame that I'm afraid of.
It's the fact that I would have to tell people that I got fired, right? It's the story I attached to it, right? If I'm getting, if I'm worried that I'm gonna get rejected or people aren't gonna like me, it's the heartbreak. It's that rejection, it's that shame. It's the insecurity of like if am I not lovable enough? That's what we're so afraid of. That's why we people please, that's why we do all of this, these really misguided and harmful things to ourselves because it is so terrifying to us to have to feel negative emotions because we've never been taught how to feel our emotions. And when you realize that and when you learn, like the worst case scenario is that like let's say if I put up a boundary or I say no, or I advocate for myself, or I ask for that raise, the worst case scenario is that I have to feel a negative emotion.
What would I do? Could I feel that? Could I feel that in my body? And just notice how it feels? Could I describe that to myself? Could I not attach a story to it, right? Could I feel the rejection and how much that sucks, but then not make it mean that I'm not lovable. Could I feel the frustration of getting fired but not make it mean that I'm terrible and I'm never gonna get another job, right? Can I not layer on additional suffering? Can I not layer on dirty pain and just feel the clean pain that I have from this instance and be okay? Because if I can do that, if I can feel my negative emotions so much becomes available to me, so much of life and this experience becomes available to me because I'm not afraid of it anymore, right? When I look at like my life experience is going to be feeling tons of positive emotion and tons of negative, I can bring it all on, I can handle it all, then I'm not as terrified.
I think about this a lot about myself. Like there was nobody that was more scared of feeling emotions than me. Circa 2014, there was nobody that was more scared of failure, of not achieving, of shame, of being judged than I was. I mean, I was literally your quintessential people, pleaser, perfectionist, overachiever. Like my whole life had been predicated on what other people thought of me on proving to people that I was good enough and on hustling for my worth always. And so I say this now, looking at how different I am now and how liberated I feel, not because I have the answers to everything, not because I'm not gonna fail, not because everybody all of a sudden loves me. Spoiler alert, they don't much to my dismay. But because I've learned like I can handle negative emotions, I don't need everyone to love me.
I don't need everyone to not judge me. I don't need everybody to, you know, get what I'm doing. I don't need to protect myself from shame or frustration or judgment or heartbreak or rejection or failure or any of it. I can feel it and be fine and when I can. And then when I know that I can do anything truly, I feel like, yeah, maybe I'll like, 'cause what's fascinating is like there are some actual consequences obviously to the, to the actions we take. But a lot of times, like I know for me when I'm like making calculated decisions, I don't really make decisions willy-nilly. So it's like, let's say if I'm doing something and I'm gonna put up some money into an investment, like, yeah, losing that money stings, but for the most part, I'm usually using money that I'm okay with losing, right?
I'm okay. Like it's not gonna take away our home, let's say. And I know that it's not the money that I lose because I'll have the rest of my life to make money. It's not that. It's the fact that I, the shame that I'll feel, right? It's all of those negative emotions. And when I've learned that like I can handle that part, I can go get another job. Like I can't tell you how liberated I feel knowing that like no matter what happens, I know I can take care of myself. This whole business could go away, I could get canceled, I could lose whatever it is. And I know that my resourcefulness and my strength will allow me to just figure it out. And because I can figure out how to have negative emotions and feel them, I'm just not as terrified anymore of things happening, of things going wrong.
I'm not afraid all the time. And I feel like the secret to me getting over my fear was simply answering the fricking question was simply seeing that the answer is not as scary as I thought it was. And so I want you to take this and do it with whatever you're scared of. I want you to write it out on a paper. What is the worst case scenario that I'm terrified of happening if I do this right? Write 'em all out. It doesn't have to be one fear. Maybe there's a financial fear and there's a fear of judgment and there's a fear of success and there's a fear of, you know, rejection. Whatever it is, write 'em all and go to the, like the end. Think it through all the way, what is the worst possible thing? And then ask yourself like, what are steps I could take to prevent that before it gets there, right?
What are some strategies that I have to overcome these obstacles? One and two, can I handle it? If it happens, would I be able to handle it? Those are the only answers you need. Once you have those answers, that fear is still gonna be there, but you know that you're will like able and willing to deal with whatever happens, and then you move forward because there is going to be risk because you don't know what's gonna happen. It doesn't mean that once you do this exercise, you're not afraid anymore. Obviously we don't want these worst case scenarios to happen, right? It simply means that you have to be willing to know that like you will be okay if it happens. And you have to be willing to take that risk. And analogy I give all the time is like, if you want something new, if you want to travel, like if you want to make progress, I want you to think about it like Tarzan in the forest.
Tarzan is swinging on vines, right? And at some point when you want to move, make forward movement, you have to grab onto a vine and let go of the vine behind you, right? And what so many of us do is like, we are so scared that if we let go, we're gonna fall, we're gonna lose it. I don't know. We're not gonna make it so we are grabbing on to something in the in front of us, but we refuse to let go of the vine that's behind us. So we're just stuck. We're just swinging between these two vines and we're wondering why we're not moving forward. And it's because we're so terrified of losing what we have, right? We're so terrified of moving forward because like, what if, what if I let go of this and I fall? What if I let go of this and I can't swing to the next one? What if, what if, what if at some point you have to let go or you'll never move forward, you'll never go to the next chapter
And, and so my friends, I want you to do this exercise and then I want you to learn to take the risk and let go. I want you to realize that like you're gonna be afraid regardless, but now you have a plan. Now you've thought it through. Now every time your brain goes there and says like, but what if I fail? You're gonna have an answer. You are gonna be like, yeah, we might. But if we do, we have it figured out. But if we do, we have the money saved up. But if we do, we'll get a job. And that just knowing that you have that power to take care of yourself is what will ground you in being able to handle that uncertainty and that fear. And that, my friend, is how you, you don't get over the fear, but it's how you manage the fear and move forward Anyways, so go forward, figure out your fears, answer the question and move forward.
All right, my friends, I hope this was helpful and I will see you next week for another episode.
Hey, if you are looking for more in-depth help with your career, whether that's dealing with all of the stress, worry, and anxiety that's leading to burnout in your current career or figuring out what your dream career is and actually going after it, I want you to join me in the Quitter Club. It is where we quit what is no longer working. Like perfectionism, people pleasing imposter syndrome… and we start working on what does, and we start taking action towards the career and the life that you actually want. We will take the concepts that we talk about on the podcast and apply them to your life and you will get the coaching, tools, and support that you need to actually make some real change. So go to club and get on the waitlist. Doors are closed right now, but they will be open soon.