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A Simple Test When We Are Feeling Fearful of Taking Action

The surprising way I learned to make decisions

· Insights,Something to Try

Yesterday, I had two "Time and Attention" sessions with people I didn't know. Each was a wonderful experience. Afterwards, I felt energised, connected and grateful. I had crossed a threshold which was only possible because, a couple of weeks earlier, I had dared to share my offer with people I knew, who then told others.

It seems easy now I've done it, but jumping back a few weeks I was fighting my inner demons in a battle to decide whether to take action or not. Part of me was fired up and full of excitement, wanting to test out what could be possible if I tried my work online. Another part was protesting loudly. "No, you can't." "You don't know what you are doing." "You risk looking stupid." and a whole load more too.

Eventually I quietened the voices and made the choice to take action and experiment. My decision making process involved the question to myself: "How will I feel in a months time if I don't try this now?"

It is a test that I discovered for myself a few years ago during an evening class I attended called Performing The Self. We engaged in all sorts of activities including singing, clowning, reciting poetry and learning Shakespeare. I was terrified of all of it. My biggest fear was being seen and heard, and being judged for getting it wrong, being humiliated or ridiculed.
 

Each week I crossed a threshold. The group was so beautifully held that despite my fears I felt safe enough to try. By the end of the evening I always felt amazing. I had stepped up and faced a fear - and I had survived!

But, one evening, after we'd been preparing a poem to recite, we were given the opportunity to share in front of the group. As usual it felt challenging. Normally in exercises like this as each member of the group rose to the challenge it became easier to do it myself rather than to opt out - and risk being the odd one out.

But on this occasion, only about half of the group performed their poem. My resistance was huge so, given the option, I chose not to take my place in front of the group. I felt a huge relief, a feeling that I had escaped an ordeal, and got away with something. But sadly that feeling didn't last long.

I got home that evening feeling really low, frustrated and pretty miserable. Not the high that I'd got used to. I didn't realise what had happened until I reflected on it later.

In taking the 'easy' option I had denied myself the possibility of a new experience, and to feel the buzz of crossing another threshold. Instead I ended up in a place of self doubt and disappointment.

So, it has become my test when I am unsure about taking action that feels challenging. I ask myself:-

How will I feel if I don't do this?

And, that usually gives me the kick up the backside to risk crossing another threshold and give it a go. Turns out what I have to lose in the possibility of attempting something new, is actually far less than what I have to lose in not even trying.

The answer was clear. The feeling I would have if I didn't at least try was one of disappointment, frustration and missed opportunity. Compared with the possibility of trying it out and knowing that whatever the outcome I had given it my best shot, it was an easy choice.

Can you relate to this? Have you experienced the low of disappointment in yourself for not having tried something when fear was holding you back? How would it be if you too asked yourself the question "How will I feel (next week, next month, tomorrow) if I don't do this?" I'd love to hear your experience.

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