Faced with a constant barrage of uncertain, frequently inconsistent, and often unsettling political, diplomatic, and economic news, it is understandable why many people are feeling stressed, anxious, and disenchanted. Some of the happiest, most successful, and highly organized people that I know have recently expressed a higher level of professional and personal dissatisfaction. They are finding it tough to stay motivated and feel stressed in a less collaborative, less productive, and, at times, more adversarial business climate. This is carrying over into all aspects of their lives.
As a career coach, I am always looking for tools to help people recapture their spark. A psychologist friend recommends an application called Insight Timer to colleagues, friends, family members, and patients. Insight Timer helps the user connect with feelings, decrease anxiety, find focus, re-energize, etc. It offers everything from daily affirmations, guided meditation, and simple breathing exercises to multi-day courses and motivational talks. She personally uses it and I decided to give it a try for 30 days. I may start the day with a short motivational talk or pause when feeling stressed to reduce anxiety through a quick breathing exercise. It has been helpful.
One of the courses offered on the application is the Fear-Busting Boot Camp: Break Free from Your Fears. Over three sessions of about 14 minutes each, motivational Speaker, Justin Michael Williams, explores the fears that hold us back from being our best selves. The fears that prevent us from being productive, exploring new things, following our passions, and accomplishing our goals. Struggling to write the last chapter of that book or muster the courage to apply for that job? It is likely fear in disguise keeping you stuck.
In this course, Williams helps the listener understand the relationship between fear and creativity, identify which fear(s) hold them back, as well as recognize fear’s message and work through it. “I may be scared, but I am doing it anyway!” That is Wiliam’s mantra. Feeling apprehensive about trying something different or starting a new venture is natural and a signal that you are moving out of your comfort zone. It tells you that you are growing and closer to accomplishing your goal. The trick is to recognize fear, appreciate what it is telling you, take a minute to dive deeper into why you are truly afraid, and then move forward instead of letting it paralyze you. “I may be scared, but I am doing it anyway!”
Williams breaks down eight types of fear into simple explanations with examples that are easy to identify in yourself and sometimes in those around you. I appreciate that Williams starts with ‘Real Fear’ because it reinforces that fear does serve a purpose. That purpose is to protect us from harm and ‘Real Fear’ does that by saying, “Don’t walk down that dark alley late at night alone!” The issue with our brains is identifying when we are truly in danger and when we need to say, “Okay, this is an uncomfortable step, I am scared to take it, but I need to apply for that promotion to move forward in my career.” The remaining seven types of fear that Williams covers are these fears keeping us stuck!
Fear disguises itself mainly in the form of ‘Distraction’ for me. I find all sorts of things to do before starting the project necessary to accomplish my goal. Heck, writing this article is a great example. I found myself doing everything else but writing it. After a quick assessment, ‘Distraction’ and ‘Perfectionism,’ were the two fears keeping me stuck. Deeper analysis showed the three things truly keeping me stuck were that I did not know exactly how to start the article, I was unsure about the message, and the article might even expose some of my vulnerabilities. This realization allowed me to say, “This may be helpful to people. Start writing and see what comes out on the paper.” My version of, “I may be scared, but I am doing it anyway.”
A lot of bases have been covered in this article; more than originally planned. Certainly, Justin Michael Williams’ course on fear and even Insight Timer are not for everyone. The point is, if you are feeling discouraged, anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed these days, you are not alone. There are many wonderful mental health professionals, support groups, and applications that can help. Insight Timer is simply one tool. If you are interested in exploring it, this application offers individual as well as company membership plans, with a free basic option. That is something to consider if you are an employer creating or enhancing your employee well-being program. If you decide to give it a try, check out the Fear-Busting Boot Camp: Break Free from Your Fears course on the application to understand which fears are holding you back from being your best self.
Amy Bauer, Managing Principal & Co-Founder