One Simple Step to Get Past Your Fear

Yesterday my son Spencer who has Intellectual Disabilities was outside most of the morning helping me shovel.  He always volunteers to help without hesitation and I’m incredibly grateful.  When I thank him he says, “Mom, being helpful is my super-power.”  Spencer’s really into superheroes.  We started talking about super-powers but also what our Kryptonite was. For Spencer his Kryptonite is the heat – he hates when it’s really hot outside.

It got me to thinking about what my Kryptonite is.  I’m honestly not sure what it is right now but I know what it used to be – being afraid to take risks.  This initially played out when I was a kid by not pushing myself athletically.  I skied for years but would never try a black diamond.  I was a good swimmer but only reluctantly would jump off a diving board. When I was applying to colleges I didn’t select any schools that might be a reach. I didn’t want to stretch academically.

The irony of this is that I would do things that most people would consider risks but felt natural to me.  I moved out to Los Angeles after college without a job and only knowing one person.  I left a steady, full time job to start my own public relations company at 24 years-old and then proceeded to sell it to a large multi-national company five years later.

In my adulthood this aversion to risk manifested in not speaking up in my marriage and accepting behavior that I shouldn’t have.  When my ultimate divorce led to major financial problems I was afraid to put myself out there and admit it to friends. I missed out on emotional support I could have desperately used. In the next business I started I would take on clients that I knew I shouldn’t but I was chasing money rather than checking in with my soul. I was afraid that this client would be the last and I would be out of business. And of course, ultimately, the client would end up not paying or taking more time than we had agreed to.

In my 40’s I realized that I needed to break the spell of my Kryptonite if I wanted to succeed and be happy. I did what I now do with my clients – a writing exercise called “If Then, So What?”  Meaning I played out my concerns and what it would lead to.

For example, I wrote down – “If I don’t take that client what would happen?” Once I answered that question I took that answer and applied the same question – “If then, so what?” I then kept unravelling the statement until I got it as far down as I could at which point I realized that the world would not end.  I would not face financial ruin by choosing not to take a client.

I now play it big and take risks.  I’ve focused on expanding my business on my terms with clients I like working with.  I talk to people about my weaknesses and ask for help when I need it.  I put myself out there.

What is your Kryptonite? What’s holding you back from achieving your goals? You can use my prompt “If then, so what?” to get to the basis of your fears.


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