Take Your Foot Off the Brake

shutterstock_151468817 I live with fear. It’s a constant companion. In fact, it’s one we all know pretty well, and anyone who tells you she’s completely fearless is lying through her perfectly straight, overly whitened teeth.

Author Susan Jeffers had it right when she wrote the book, “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.” The secret, she shares, is not to eliminate fear, but to make peace with it. In other words, you’ve got to learn how to amicably cohabitate with the enemy.

As an entrepreneur, overwhelm, frustration, disappointment, and even the 3 o’clock in the morning sweats aren’t that unusual. Let’s face it: running your own business will give you something to panic about, if you let it. However, you have a choice. As long as you are playing big in this world and want to make a difference, fear will be lurking around every corner. The key here is to recognize it, acknowledge its presence, say, “thanks for sharing!” and keep going anyway.

If you’re always waiting for the perfect person, situation or opportunity to come along, then you’re driving with your foot on the brake and you’re not going to get very far. If your MO is to research endlessly but never actually do the work or take class after class but never implement, then fear is playing a starring role in your life. You know who you are, girlfriend.

Some might tell you that fear is something to overcome, or even “conquer,” and once you have done it, your life will be smooth sailing. Good luck with that.

If you’re ready to be proactive and productive, here are five ways to effectively manage fear:

    • Stay present. When you allow your mind to wander to past and future places, you are allowing fear to take over. The “what-if” game is only good for a strong dose of anxiety. The only thing that is real is what’s here right here, right now. Ask yourself, “am I currently in the present moment?” If not, get yourself back there, acknowledge your feelings, but understand that they are fleeting. Our feelings change as often as the weather.


    • Develop your cheerleading squad. No one is successful on their own. Everyone needs support from other like-minded individuals who can keep you grounded and focused. It is said that you become the five people you spend the most time with, so make sure you are connecting with positive, enthusiastic, forward-thinkers who want the best for those around them.


    • Work with a mentor. Modeling and learning from someone who has achieved something you want for yourself is an excellent way to learn and move forward. It’s also crucial to have someone who is a few steps ahead of you in business to pave the way and answer questions as they arise. Most successful people are generous with their time and knowledge. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.


    • Get out of your head and in to your body. This one is an absolute must. Daily. Fear attaches itself to our daily mental chatter and takes hold like a metal vise. You’ve got to give your brain a break and allow your body to take over. It doesn’t matter what you do – take a walk, surf, go to a yoga class, dance, sing, play with your kids – as long as you get out of your own head. And the feel-good hormones that are produced by the body in action will actually relax you and loosen the grip of fear that is driven by too much mental gymnastics.


    • Understand that fear is a positive sign. Whether you’re running your own business, starting a new project or facing the unknown, fear-like feelings are bound to emerge. These feelings are nothing more than a signal that you’re about to learn, grow and step out of your comfort zone. It also means you’re about to make a creative contribution to the world. And what a loss it would be for us if you decide to recoil, fearful of what we might see if you give us what you’ve got.


The Dalai Lama once wrote, “The enemy is a very good teacher.” Fear may be the enemy, but it comes bearing gifts. If you are open to the lessons and can get past your own resistance, you may actually take your foot off the brake and get exactly what you want.

©2011 Liz Dennery Sanders


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