First, let’s address the elephant in the room: I’m a nerd. A Star Wars-loving, science fiction-reading, vampire slayer-in-training kind of nerd. Even if you aren't a nerd, keep reading. There's something here for you, too:)
One of the things I love most about Sci-Fi sagas like Star Wars is how relatable the characters are. Even though they may look VERY different that us, their emotions are still unmistakably human:
Victory. Tragedy. Friendship. Isolation. Hope. Loss. Bravery. Fear.
In Star Wars, Light and Dark Sides of the Force are represented. It's the idea that every living thing has the choice to follow the path toward light or dark. Light is the path toward benevolence, wisdom, clarity of thought, and good judgement, with most decisions being ruled by logic and concern for the greater good. Darkness is the path toward personal power, indulgent behaviors, where fear and emotions govern all decisions.
For me, this is a no-brainer. While personal strength and development are important components of being a "Boss Lady" (I'm a full-time government contractor, part-time fitness pro, and full-time wife and mama - I am running my own empire for sure!), my interest in the Dark Side ends there - except for one thing:
Fear of failure.
Fear of rejection.
Fear of not being good enough.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of isolation.
Fear of becoming irrelevant.
Fear of change.
ALL of these fears are valid. I challenge you to find one leader or personal hero who hasn’t experienced one, if not all of these fears. I feel confident in saying that even the brightest and most talented human beings on Earth have felt fear.
So how do people crush fear - especially people at the top? How do they overcome their fears to become FEARLESS and FREE to pursue their calling?
Check Your Perspective
Successful people view fear as a welcome challenge. Rather than allowing fear to consume their thoughts and behaviors, they use it to shape their path forward. They tackle fear just like every other aspect of their lives: head first with determination, effort, and gumption. Lots of gumption. (Describes every Jedi, right?!)
As a Perfectionist, I want everything in my life to be organized, planned, and all outcomes accounted for. But life doesn’t work like that. Life is messy. It throws curve balls. It will challenge our deepest held values and beliefs. BUT, feeling fear is not equivalent to being afraid.
Just like the Force, it's all a matter of perspective and harnessing your own inner voice to starve the negative and feed the positive.
Here's the good news: we all have the power to harness fear.
This is my 3-step framework for smashing fear and setting myself free. The next time you find yourself paralyzed by fear about some big life decision, try this out and
1. Identify Your “Why.”
What are you passionate about? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? What drives you?
Identifying your why makes the purpose and clarity of your mission here on Earth crystal clear. Your why replaces doubt with bravery. Your why uses common sense to squash irrational thoughts. I'm talking about those CRAZY thoughts that overtake our brains when we have to make big decisions in life.
"What if I take this promotion and I can't handle it and they fire me and I have to sell my house and live out of my car?!"
When you get really clear on your WHY, it gives you the bravery to push through those irrational thoughts and see the path ahead.
2. Focus on the Fear
Get really clear on what it is you're afraid of, on what *could* stop you. Now, address it head on. I listed "the big ones" earlier but here they are again:
Fear of failure. Rejection. Not being good enough. The unknown. Isolation. Becoming irrelevant. Change.
Now ask yourself "what if?" the thing you're afraid of actually happened. Chances are, the scenario you're cooking up in your brain isn't really THAT scary, and you could handle it if you had to.
Every Jedi’s mission begins with a steadfast purpose; a force so powerful, not even death can interfere. Are there reasons to be afraid? Yes. Absolutely. But once you focus on your fear and name it, you can start to starve its power over you.
3. Formulate a Plan
Just as Luke is destined to create balance in the galaxy, each of us is destined for greatness. The people who actually achieve greatness get there with hard work, determination - and a clear action plan.
Your action plan might only have one step to begin with and that’s ok! Take it one step at a time. Every step forward will make you bolder and guide you closer to FEARLESS and FREE from the thing that is holding you back.
We know this works in Star Wars lol. Now, want to see how this works in real life?
How I Smashed My Greatest Fear
My why used to be very simple: to lead by example at home and in my community and to have a positive impact on the health of people around me, especially my husband.
Because his father died from a massive heart attack at a young age and obesity runs in his family, my husband was convinced that genetics already had a plan for him. He believed no amount of exercise or eating right could change that outcome.
I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I started making healthier meals at home so he wasn’t tempted to get fast food every day. I worked out with him to keep him motivated. I even stopped buying ice cream for a while to keep temptations out of the house. (Don’t worry – I’ve since stopped that madness and have Halo Top ice cream stocked in my freezer lol.)
I did EVERYTHING in my power to make sure he was set up for success. My fear of losing him to poor health and genetics did not stop me from trying my hardest to keep him healthy.
I followed the 3 steps! Identify. Focus. Eradicate. That's how I smashed a huge fear in my life - but it doesn't stop there. Fear is like that. Just as soon as we crush one, new ones are always forming, aren't they?