Let’s talk about 4 letter F-bombs, shall we?

In this case, I’m talking about FEAR (though I do drop the other one you’re thinking of quite regularly as well).

People have lots of theories on fear: you have to push through it; it’ll always be there; you have to learn to work with it; only love is real – not fear; it’s necessary; it’s imaginary; on and on… lots of talk about fear and different stances on it. Part of the confusion, I’ve found, is that people really mean two different things with that loaded word.

Fear as a side effect of growth

Basically, if you want more than you are now (more in any regard, by the way… happiness, health, money, fulfillment, etc), you’re going to have to outgrow who you are now before you get what you want.

Crabs (and lots of other animals) do this. They grow to a certain point; their current shell keeps them stuck (and uncomfortable), so they shed it (leaving themselves more vulnerable to being turned into a battered and deep-fried sandwich), and then develop a new exterior that protects them while giving them room to grow.

You.are.like.a.crab (if you follow and/or appreciate my crazy metaphors, you have a special place in my heart – thank you for being here).

You’ve grown to where you’re at now, but the way you’re thinking, operating, and interacting with the world around you is a shell that’s starting to keep you stuck at the level you’re at right now (plateaus, playing small, ignoring your gut instincts, feeling blah). Which means you have to get vulnerable (enter: fear) and risk being socially deep-fried by everyone who will second-guess you (including yourself).

>> You must risk the protection of what is for the hope of what may be.

This is the fear that doesn’t go away. This is “good fear” because you’re expanding, becoming more, learning about what’s possible for you, and exploring the boundaries.

The key to dealing with this fear is detachment from the outcome and willingness to experiment. Sometimes, explorations go awry. Curiosities fall flat. Adventures lead to dead ends. They don’t always blow up into these marvelous, life-changing experiences, but if you’re expecting it to, you’re putting an awful lot of pressure on your {thing} to turn out a certain way (which, ironically, often makes it not turn out the “right” way at all).

This is the kind of fear that you want to just take action on. You have the impulse and you do something immediately to follow through. You hire someone for some accountability. Basically, all that motivational mumbo jumbo you’ve read about dealing with fear. Use it here.

Fear-based motivation

This fear is the one I’ve been writing about the last couple weeks (catch up here and here). Rather than write more ridiculous analogies, I’ll give you real lines I’ve heard recently:

I need to blog and post on social media consistently. I need to stop wasting so much time. I need to finally learn how to budget my money. I need to take better care of myself.
I need to hire help, invest in advertising, change my business model, etc. {Yup, I’m going to go here…} I need to have more sex with my partner.
As I’ve been saying, all those ^^ things may be true or good or the actual next action you need to take. Buuuuut, what’s driving that thought?

If you’re having trouble doing the thing that looks like a good idea on paper, it’s probably because you’re more scared of what happens if you DON’T do it than you are excited about what happens if you DO.

Are you wanting to take better care of yourself so you don’t orphan your kids or because you really like being able to run around with them? Are you wanting to blog and share with your audience because you’re eager to help them or because you’re afraid the money will dry up if you don’t? Are you growing your business to $500k because you arbitrarily can and success is easy at this point so why not? Or because you’re inspired to try this new thing that will fill you up in even bigger ways?

This fear will have you looking for ways to PROTECT yourself rather than EXPAND yourself. This fear is reactionary rather than proactive. It makes you respond to your life rather than create your life. This fear makes you believe there’s something you need to change about yourself (like you have no choice) in order to be good/acceptable/worthy/loveable/successful/other good adjectives rather than you choosing to change because you want to and then getting all those good descriptors as a result of your choices. This fear is no bueno.

(I talked about how to handle this one a couple weeks ago here.)

Now, if you actually read this whole flippin’ thing, 1) thank you for being the kind of person that digs in and does the learning and isn’t looking for Buzzfeed solutions to New York Times problems… you are my people, 2) don’t be afraid to say hello and tell me if/how you see either of these types of fear showing up for you.