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Turning Fear into Power
By Connie Butler
How would your life shift if you moved into what you feared not away from it, if you moved into the future with controlled abandon - think about it! One of the things I know from working with people for close to two decades and from my own development is that things change. And yet how many people say they hate change. If change is inevitable in growth and you hate change you have a bad equation for a good life. One of the main reasons that people hate change is that they are afraid of it. Change implies that you have to move into unknown territory. Consider these two questions:
- Where does fear rule your life?
- What would you do, who would you be, where would you go if your fear were merely a stepping-stone to more power?
If you are honest with yourself you could list numerous areas of life that you sidestep due to unchallenged fear. Think of the conversations you don't have, the people you don't let yourself meet, the business or life decisions you make that are designed to avoid fear.
The thing that most people are afraid of is the unknown: not knowing the outcome of an action, a relationship, or a decision. Most people gravitate to what they already know and then complain about how boring life is or how nothing ever really changes. Many choose the same course of action repeatedly even though it has proven not to bring the results they crave.
Fear is one of the major dynamics that underlies these decisions. Psychologically it means that people reinforce an old identity formed by their past, even if that identity is painful. They were taught that they couldn't have what they want so they continue to live in accordance with that old belief, that old self-identity. Spiritually it means that people don't explore and open to more of who they really are as beings. Economically it means that people don't take calculated and informed risks.
Fear stifles exploration on many fronts. But the truth about life is that it does change moment-to-moment - Nature's creativity is working. The planet is changing, life is evolving. And I believe that there is an underlying dynamic in life that works to optimize each of us if we allow ourselves to move out of our known sphere and experiment with our precious lives. We are designed for growth and Nature works with us in this movement. As the poet Rilke says, "What fights with us is so great." To directly face our fears and challenge ourselves opens a well of creativity that can truly serve the development of our lives and our businesses.
The events of these last few years have underscored, for many, the fact that what we had previously counted on - the peace and security that we have come to expect - may not be as rock solid as assumed. Where in your life are you living in fear or terror? For some it's:
- The fear of building a new life after a major illness or loss.
- Risking the next level of growth in their business - risking real success.
- Balking on the brink of a creative move out of their comfort zone.
- Remaining alone and isolated.
- Freezing in financial uncertainty.
Change brings us into unknown territory. The unknown is the underlying dynamic in all of these situations above. But what I have come to find is that Life is richer when we learn to walk into the unknown. When we learn to do this we build our personal power: the power to make change, the power to bring more of ourselves out into the world and into our work. This is the power that is needed in the future - the power to move safely into the unknown.
In order to solve the challenges in our lives and on the planet we all need to learn to open to the unknown. For instance, fuel cell technology looks like a potential answer to the power struggle over fossil fuels. It will change the way we live. We have to be flexible to that change. Sometimes the resolution to our personal and professional growth calls on us to really change our perspective, our lifestyle. It starts with honesty about what you want and what you need to change; it leads through the beliefs and ideas that keep the old in place, past the fear into unknown territory. This unknown can be rich, exhilarating and creative. If you want to move forward in your life:
- Begin by choosing to challenge yourself in an area of your life in which you would like to see change.
- Notice what stops you from moving forward, anything that derails your commitment.
- Find the support needed to navigate the new territory: a trusted friend to talk to, resources to help you, a coach who can see the bigger picture and help you stay the course.
I love working in this space of the unknown with clients. Here I work with people to develop the tools and the intuitive skill they need to navigate through the unknown, not away from it; to frontier their futures, to creatively recognize the solutions they don't see on their own. This is what is required to empower them so they can turn their fear into power. This is an evolutionary skill that your future success and welfare demand and it is learnable. I scout into the unknown with you and don't abandon you there but work with you to develop all that is needed for you to safely navigate it yourself.
"Feel the truth of what you are and at the same moment act. Risk yourself for what you know is right and true."
Good coaching is a fusion of this inner opening to the truth and the decision to act!
Connie Butler is a personal and professional coach working with individuals and groups to clarify their greatest vision and cultivate its successful realization moving them past their growth frontier into new territory.