I distinctly remember reading ‘Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers PhD, a couple of years ago. It stuck with me. My view towards how I was holding fear in my life was permanently altered after reading something in the first few pages.
To give you a brief lowdown, Jeffers describes three different levels of fears in the first chapter.
Level 1 fears
Divided into two categories – ‘fears that happen’ such as getting old or losing a loved one, and ‘fears that need action’, for example, changing a career, public speaking, or ending a relationship.
Level 2 fears
They have to do with inner states of mind, rather than things happening TO you. So being rejected, the fear of failure and being disapproved of are all examples of this type of fear.
And then Jeffers continues to reveal the Level 3 fear – the ‘biggest fear of all’….
‘I can’t handle it!’
Yep. That’s it.
The apparent root of all our ‘stuck-ness’.
Quite simply, the major fear that influences every one of our other fears is thinking that we can’t deal with whatever life throws our way.
LET YOUR INNER WISDOM DO THE TALKING
Those four words on page six had a major impact for me.
First off, after seeing ‘I can’t handle it!’ written down on paper, (and agreeing – for the most part – that this was the major fear that was showing up for me time and time again) I realised; ‘Oh sh*t, that is just a thought.’
I don’t know why seeing it in black and white (and in this specific book) changed things for me, but it did. In that moment I knew that ‘I can’t handle it’ was just a story I kept telling myself over and over again, and one which I’d come to believe.
Now I must mention that by this point, I’d spent a bit of time working on my own personal development so my ‘thoughts around thoughts’ had changed somewhat before picking up this book.
How did I know that I couldn’t handle it? Well, I didn’t. It was just my unfavourable thinking doing the talking, and I was well aware of that now.
Secondly, ‘I can’t handle it!’ immediately highlighted that I wasn’t trusting myself, or the process. I was letting my anxieties take control and my negative thinking was at the forefront.
There’s a lot to be said about allowing ourselves to discover that we CAN cope when life throws a curveball or indeed, when it just starts to feel difficult or really overwhelming. It’s where we end up certain of our abilities and strength we were so innocently unaware of!
There’s a certain kindness in the design of us human beings. We all have an inherent wellbeing, and we are all MORE than okay in the absence of our negative thoughts and feelings. The problem? We are up in our heads so much of the time, we end up believing our thoughts, and ignoring our ‘knowing’.
Our ‘go-to’, our ‘default setting’ if you will, is to be A-OK.
You absolutely CAN handle it.