I’m a complete coward (which I guess makes me brave).

I want to tell you about something I learned this weekend.  But first, let me remind you of something you already know about me: I’m afraid of change.  Maybe afraid is too strong a word.  I don’t like change.  Actually, I’m a coward when it comes to change.  Why?  Why not embrace the sagging of my skin (aka – last post)?  The growing up of my kids?  We know the reason we don’t like change: We’re afraid of the unknown.

But, here’s what I learned this weekend:

The bravest people, are really cowards who go ahead anyway and keep experiencing life, even trying those things they’re afraid of.

This last month, I’ve run head on into a number of big fears.  Fear of being alone, fear of not being worthy and the fear of what life will be like when the kids leave.  When I feel fear coming, I check out.  I go in my cave.  I close my door.  I don’t read emails.  I shut down.  Know what I mean?  It’s like the bottom of life is falling out.  Like there’s nothing to grasp.  And, sometimes it really hurts.

But this weekend I realized that – Fear is a feeling not a fact.

Neuroscience has taught us that the main fear center in the human brain, the amygdala, works faster than conscious thought and is basically functioning in the human brain the same way it does in most animals including lizards (hence the term, “lizard brain”).   So, because fear works so quickly, we need to have a strategy for dealing with it.

First, we need to reprogram our blanket fear statements. Remember that even if something bad happens, that doesn’t mean that it will happen again.  Make sure you don’t keep the warm blanket on top of you too long – preventing you from moving forward.

Second, remember what neuropsychologist Rick Hanson says,”our brains are like Teflon for positive experiences and Velcro for negative ones.”  Meaning our fear highlights our painful fear experiences–even though they’re usually the minority of our overall experiences.

Third, expose yourself to the things you’re afraid of.  So, if you’re not good at asking for help, then try asking for something small from someone you know won’t make you feel bad about it.  Once you do it, you’ll know how to do it again!

Finally, create a positive link to your fear.  For example, when you do ask for something (and it works), treat yourself.  Make the experience special.  This will help create a link between the positive experience and what you thought was a fear.

So friends, let’s start this week of family, food, stress, food and a nap or two – out right.  Let’s not be afraid to step outside our caves and face our fears head on.  I have a feeling that for me (and for all of you) – it’s going to bring the most amazing changes to that which I “thought” I was afraid of.

Have an amazing day!

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