Many of us have fear and that is OKAY, but do you let fear hold you back? See if you can relate to Nicole’s experience and take advantage of her tips on steps to take the next time you experience fear.
I have a confession for you. I hate change just like many of you. I am an artist, an actor, and I run my own business. According to most people, I am considered fearless.
Back in my early twenties a friend’s mother told me she admired how “fearless” I was. I guess the word “fearless” stuck out in my mind because while I have had a track record of trying things outside the box, leading with my heart, and taking leaps off of proverbial cliffs; I have just as readily been frozen by the fear of change.
I have stayed in relationships past their expiration date, jobs that weren’t fulfilling, and held onto vices that I no longer enjoyed, but somehow just couldn’t give up. All this because change was more frightening to me than the comfort of what I had known. Even if what I had known was no longer good for me.
So here we are in 2014, A NEW YEAR! “Out with the old, in with the new” as they say. A lot of people are a fan of New Year’s resolutions and I have to say I am as well. However, I don’t believe you need a holiday to decide to make positive change — you can set a date with change for any time – but certainly New Year’s is a great time to get moving towards your goal.
The truth is it’s normal to experience fear when big life changes are required or imminent, even if the change is positive such as moving in with a partner, losing weight, having a baby, or getting a big job promotion.
It’s actually common to fear losing your freedom when you decide to get into a relationship, fearing for your financial stability. It’s also common to fear waling away from a relationship and of course getting a divorce. There can also be fear when you begin a new health regime or a new challenge.
When you begin to take a real look at what you fear, you will notice that your fears are based on future scenarios you’ve created in your mind. The worries and anxieties you feel regarding change are not about what you are currently experiencing, but a worst case scenario you’ve created in your mind.
The truth is, the probability of your worst case scenario occurring is far lower than what your imagination would have you to believe. A great way to cope with the fear of change is to invest in being curious about how new change would positively impact your life, rather than feeling fearful. Take the time to focus on the reality and the facts rather than allowing your imagination to run wild.
Nowadays people focus a lot of energy on the idea of “getting rid of fear” rather than accepting that fear is a natural occurring emotion and learning to incorporate it into our actions and day-to-day lives.
If you take a look at people who have made big changes and accomplished big things quickly, you will find that they encountered the same fears as every other human being. However, unlike those of us (myself included) who can find themselves paralyzed with fear, they actually have learned to expect and embrace fear and use it in their favor.
I remember at one time I was in a relationship that wasn’t going so well. Everyone knew my partner wasn’t good for me, including myself, but I continued on in the relationship as I couldn’t imagine life without him. At the same time a good friend of mine was in a similar relationship that wasn’t working. While I held on to mine as it became more and more dysfunctional and miserable, my friend quickly ended her relationship. She went on a month long yoga retreat in Costa Rica, began dating, and eventually found a much better relationship to be in. If I had learned to embrace change, rather than holding onto the comfort of the unhealthy, I could have found happiness a heck of a lot sooner.
Instead of avoiding necessary change — accept and embrace that you can’t control external events in your life. A big part of the reason you fear change, is that you fear being or feeling out of control. People create a false sense of control by knowing what to expect, even when it’s unhealthy. The honest truth is that you are never in complete control of your life. There are far too many outside factors, variables, and unpredictable events. When we are forced to make changes, we simply get a huge reminder of this lack of control and that can feel a bit scary.
So what can you do with these feelings of being out of control?
The easiest thing to do is to focus on what you can control. For example, your attitude. Stay positive and expect good things to happen to you. Because why shouldn’t they? Get on a first name basis with your fear, become familiar with it, and the more you allow yourself to understand it, the less it will run your life.
Another wonderful thing you can do to is to have real faith — in yourself!
Blind faith is that a miracle will somehow make things better; having real faith is being responsible for what happens to you and taking action. Real faith means working hard towards an outcome that you want, but surrendering control of how and when something will happen for you.
At the end of the day, change is truly an opportunity. Sometimes we outgrow something for something better. Change cannot be turned into that opportunity without you learning to embrace it, and live with it. The key to bravely facing change is to understand your fears, become familiar with why you’ve built them up, and have faith in your ability to be resilient.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
One of the biggest things I’ve accepted in life is that no matter how much you want to help people get where they are going, as much as you can see a better way for them, it is best to lead by example rather than sacrifice yourself in order to “save” someone else. One of my favorite Bikram Yoga Instructor’s in NYC, Kathryn Leary, has a quote she often recited to us during class that goes, ” I am a lighthouse rather than a life boat. I do not rescue, but instead help others to find their own way to shore, guiding them by my example.”
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I appreciate my ability to see the humor in things. I always seek out the silver lining and for me that can often be finding humor in things that are tough or I suppose, outwardly un-funny, perhaps even tragic. Humor has kept me afloat many times and has been my life raft. I remember one time I was in the hospital and pretty sick and I just kept making the young internists crack up. It made things better somehow.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
I think one of my most rewarding achievements in life has been in my body of work as an artist. My art has been a comfort to me over the years, as well as kind of a diary. I am always thrilled if I can create a piece of art that speaks to someone, and has the capacity to connect to some part of them that needs expression. I have many goals but one of them would be to get bigger and better exhibitions of my artwork, so I can share my unique vehicle of self expression with more people.
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
My not-so-perfect way is that I can be very self critical at times and take a while to work through my emotions. I have the artistic temperament for sure, so I tend to brood over things. Some people are what I like to call “rubber band people” and sort of instantly bounce back from things. I tend to process my emotions, then reprocess, and then perhaps work them out in art or in my writing or a poem to process them yet again. So in my own way I have trouble with that, but I guess it makes for some interesting art.
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
Bikram Yoga Practice. My boyfriend Holt, a talented tv/ film actor, introduced me to it a few years ago because we both loved heat and saunas and steam rooms etc, and now I practice regularly. It brings peace to my mind and it makes me physically feel incredible. Life can get a bit hectic living in NYC, being a freelancer, owning my own business so it is wonderful to have a place I can go to detox from the world. Literally and figuratively.