These three have been getting a lot of play time in my mind recently.
I’m saying this as a badge of truth, not one of pride.
The presence and potentially destructive nature of fear, uncertainty, and doubt have required me to remember my tools and productive coping mechanisms for working through the challenges. Notice how I didn’t say “getting over them”. Nope. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt, like everything and everyone around us, are our teachers. The more we try to push them aside and ignore them and not address what they’re here to show us, the longer they I’ll stick around until the lesson is learned. Only when they are acknowledged can we move forward.
My hope is that by sharing my truth and tools that you will know that you aren’t alone in feeling afraid, uncertain, and doubtful. Maybe my strategies can even help get you unstuck from whatever you’re afraid of and moving forward.
And in case you think that since I’m writing about fear, uncertainty, and doubt must have this all this figured out, let me be the first to say that I do not. My highest self and all her wisdom embody so much of this truth on a cerebral level, but knowing concepts and manifesting behavior in real life are two very different things. I’m trying my best just like everyone else. I’m right there with you. Writing about it helps me wire yet another pathway into my consciousness so that I can use these preferred strategies more quickly instead of jumping to the old short-fused hot mess express conclusions that keep me stuck in fear. None of this work would be possible without my people. Without you all, I would be feel so isolated and alone in this wild ride.
Because feelings don’t exist singularly in a vacuum, I feel that’s important to say that there is so much more to contextualize in this conversation about fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Limiting beliefs and stories play a huge role in this mental tug-of-war in our brains. But since this isn’t a book manuscript (yet!) and you and I have lives to live, things to do, and people to love, let’s keep things simple for now. We’ll always have time to dive into the complexities and underpinnings of all of this some other time. Wrangling with fear, uncertainty, and doubt can be mentally and physically exhausting, and our energy is a precious resource to steward.
So without further ado, here are some strategies that have helped me navigate hard times with fear, uncertainty, and doubt:
Gain the bigger perspective
Let’s start with the good news. The wise truth-teller, Buddhist teacher, author, and nun Pema Chödrön tells us:
“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”
What this means is that we can know that if we are nervously anticipating something, it is likely a direct conduit to what is really bothering us. It’s quick access to intelligence that can help us move forward. I like to think of fear as really good intel for our emotional CIA agents. All we have to do is choose to see it with a different perspective. And in looking back on my own life experiences, everything I have been initially afraid to do has always yielded personal growth in the end. And while the growth spectrum includes everything from [very painful – to – very joyful], I wouldn’t change any (okay, most) of my decisions. History has shown that fear was moving me closer to my truth; all I had to do was listen to it. Which brings me to my next strategy:
2. Listen in
If you’re lucky, your fear will be loud, precise, and verbose. It will tell you: “I’m afraid that if you move away from this place, lose this job, end this relationship, or say this essential truth to someone you love, you risk being abandoned, without enough resources to survive, and your identities will change, evolve, or disappear completely.” Consider yourself very lucky if fear is specific and speaking direct words to your very scared and tiny self.
However, it doesn’t always work out that way for me. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt often present in non-linear ways. Something will bother me, but I can’t exactly put words to what the root cause is. So this is the part where we get still and listen in. Perhaps this happens best for you during meditation Maybe truth bubbles up best for you while you’re taking a nap or a shower or while you’re driving. Maybe truth appears for you most often through movement or creative expressions. Reflect back on the times when “a-ha” moments have occurred for you, and prioritize that time for yourself to let allow your truth reveal itself. I’ve been trying to establish a regular meditation practice because it helps to calm my anxious tendencies and helps me to build a ritual for truth to surface more often and easily.
And what to do when your truth surfaces for you? This brings us to the third and final strategy:
3. Speak out
Once you can name what you’re afraid of and you’ve assigned language or feeling or identity to it by listening in to what it is, put it out there. Speak it out. Share it with trusted people who as Brené Brown says: “have earned the right to hear your story”. There is so much power in speaking out and expressing your truth. When we speak out, we are empowered with knowledge. We can listen and learn from this information. Most importantly, we can move forward and make progress when we begin to understand why fear, uncertainty, and doubt were presenting themselves and what lessons they are trying to teach us. If we’re lucky, this process can take a short amount of time. Or it can take days, weeks, months, or years for this truth to unfold. In the latter case, it can be excruciating to wait for truth to emerge. Sitting with uncertainty can be draining and terrifying. But the truth will emerge. It always does. And when it does, we’ll move forward.
So if you’re experiencing fear, uncertainty, and doubt in your life, I hope that these strategies can bring you some peace. I hope you’ll have the courage to listen in and speak out so that you can move forward.
I’ll leave you with a little metaphor of fear being in the car during the road trip of life from one of my favorite truth-tellers, Elizabeth Gilbert:
Breathe and believe, beauties.