I worked in a job I hated. If you’ve ever worked a day in your life, you can relate to that! Well, it wasn’t really the job that I hated, but the agency I worked for. It was a group home for inner city teenage boys and I was their therapist. You would think that the kids would be why I hated it so much because they were aggressive, angry, cursed staff out and were sometimes full of rage. But , no. That didn’t phase me. The agency had policies that ignored culture and mental health and pushed white, middle class values as if that would solve the anger, rage, family issues and mental illness for these kids. I wanted to help these kids, and I did, but I also wanted out of there because it was a toxic environment. But I was scared. They paid a good salary and I had benefits. Maybe you’ve been there too? You know that you are not in the right place, but are scared to leave?
Fear may be the strongest emotion we experience, and the one that applies to the widest range of things. As noted by Roman author, naturalist, natural philosopher, and military commander Pliny the Elder, “…apprehension has [no limits, for] we fear all that possibly may happen…”
However, as much as we try to banish or fight it, fear is useful. Check out the book The Gift of Fear, by Gavin DeBecker. Fear tells us something may soon go wrong, that we’re at risk. If you smell smoke where no smoke should be, you know you have to take immediate action to save your life, your loved ones, your property. Similarly, when you step outside your comfort zone and into the unknown, you experience fear.
The question then is only this, when you feel fear, what do you do with the fear? Do you let it freeze you in place, like a rabbit hoping the wolf will miss it and move on? Or do you use it to drive you forward, to sharpen your focus, to serve as a fire in your belly and the passion to pursue your dreams?
Laura Schlessinger (love her or not!) said, “This is all you have. This is not a dry run. This is your life. If you want to fritter it away with your fears, then you will fritter it away, but you won’t get it back later.” When fear grips you, grip it right back. Don’t let it stop you. Jump on its back and ride it for all you’re worth. The thrill and excitement of doing something you never imagined you could do feels just like fear ― the same butterflies in your stomach, the same sharpened senses, the same elevated pulse. When you feel those, tell your mind this is the natural excitement of going for your dreams and go for it.
I was a divorced, single mom who needed that salary and benefits, but also knew I needed to get out of that environment even though I was afraid and had a lot to lose. My fear kept me stuck for a while, until I harnessed it and got out. I made up my mind to do whatever I needed in order to change my situation and it wasn’t simple. And today, ten years later and through lots of other scary situations, I have two thriving businesses that I love. I was fueled by knowing that I never wanted to go back to working for anyone else ever again. I wanted to be in charge of my life, of my income, of my future.
What are you afraid of? What is holding you in a job, a relationship, or any other situation because you are afraid?
I leave you with this final thought, from Rosa Parks, “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” Make up your mind to use your fear of the new and unknown to grow, stretch, and change in healthy ways. You can do it. #YourPersonalBest