Balance & Beyond Podcast
#26: Conquering Fear: Your Shortcut to Success
Are you itching to take the reins of your life, but find yourself held hostage by fear?
This episode is your freedom ticket! We will unmask the fear that lurks behind perfectionism, procrastination, and stress, strip it of its power, and turn it into your personal growth catalyst. We're not just talking about the kind of fear that makes your palms sweat and your heart race. We're revealing how it dons the masks of logic and scepticism to quietly rule your life.
Instead of allowing fear to rob you of joy, peace, and contentment, we're here to help you transform it into your secret weapon for success. Immerse yourself in our discussion on setting goals that scare you, and discover how they can catapult you into a higher version of yourself.
We'll share tips on mustering the courage to face your fears head-on and finding the supportive community you need to keep going. We'll also delve into our toolkit, packed with practical strategies to achieve the holy grail of life - a balance where career, relationships, and health all thrive.
So, are you ready to conquer your fears and step into a life of balance and beyond? Let's get started!
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INTRO: Welcome to Balance and Beyond, the podcast for ambitious women who refuse to accept burnout as the price of success. Here, we’re committed to empowering you with the tools and strategies you need to achieve true balance, where your career, relationships and health all thrive, and where you have the power to define success on your own terms. I honour the space you’ve created for yourself today, so take a breath, and let's dive right in…
Perfectionism, procrastination, stress, overwhelm these are things that women suffer from every single day. But, did you know that there is a common thread that binds these, and many other behaviours that we're experiencing together? And it's one F word that you may not be aware of. And that F word is fear. Fear is what is behind so many of these coping mechanisms, and today I want to give you a better understanding of what fear actually is and how it's showing up in your life. So that you can no longer be paralysed by it.
Now, fear is actually a biological imperative, and it's a threat of danger. Pain or harm. Now we are programmed and, really, we're only born with two key fears. And that is the fear of loud noises, and the fear of falling from high places. And if you think about growing up on the savannah, which is where the bulk of our brain was developed, we are put on a rock, out of the cave. We don't want to fall off that rock because we don't bounce. And we're afraid of loud noises, because that could be an animal, or that could be something coming to do us harm.
All the other fears are conditioned into us by our parents, by society, by our environment. But fear is incredibly powerful and it is what keeps us alive. There's a reason on the savannah, we hear a lion roaring and we go, “Ah!” And it's really our body's way and a physiological response, that then can be a neuro-chemical response. It says to us either move, pay attention, or stop. So, that's where the fight, flight, or freeze comes in.
And the reason this is the case, is imagine if we didn't feel any pain. If we had no pain receptors in our hand, and we put it in the fire. Pretty soon we'll be going, “Hmm, what's that smell?” “Oh, that's my flesh burning off!” Say goodbye to pain and say hello to lots of healing, risk of infection, and a long and painful death. So, fear is here to keep us alive. Remember, so much of our body and our brain is designed to keep us living every single day.
However, we are not on the savannah anymore. And so fear is now starting to show up in very different ways. And those ways can be equally as paralysing. Now, it might not be putting your hand in the fire. But what all this fear that we are running around with is robbing us of, is what we really want in life. It's robbing us of joy, it's robbing us of peace and contentment. And so many people aren't aware that that is what is sitting underneath these behaviours. So, let me share with you what some of these most common behaviours are and exactly what fears you are sitting with.
Anyone here a perfectionist? Do you always like it to be just so? You have a very high standard of yourself, you like everything to be perfectly aligned, the same font, the same font size, no typos. Because, “Oh my gosh, what are they going to think of me?” This isn't a trait I know. Many people pride themselves on being perfectionists. I am a recovering perfectionist myself. But that, at its core, is a fear of not getting it right, which means you're going to get in trouble, which means you might be wrong, which means you might be kicked out of the tribe, which means you're not safe, which means if you're not safe, you're going to die.
This is how this fear works out. And I know it sounds dramatic. Like, “My paragraphs aren't left aligned.” “I'm going to die.” But that can be the dominoes that your brain is doing. That's where this fear goes. Similarly, if you're a perfectionist, you also procrastinate. Because there's no better way to avoid making a mistake than never getting it started. So your brain toys with this, “Oh, if it has to be perfect, I don't want to get in trouble, so I would rather actually never start it.” Because then I'm actually avoiding getting in trouble. So, believe it or not, procrastination is a protective mechanism to avoid the fear of getting in trouble, or the fear of getting it wrong. Can you see how all of these fears can be so all-consuming, and all work together?
Now, usually perfectionism and procrastination and a whole lot of other factors. A word that I hear every single day is “stress.” Stress is also a biological response. There's cortisol. There's a whole stack of hormones that come with this. But at its core, stress is fear that you won't get it done, that you won't do it right. And this is usually future focused. So there's worry, stress about a deadline, or a timeline. Or you can't get through it all, or you're going to get fired, or you're going to be a failure.
Same goes for overwhelm. Another piece of fear, fear that you can't get through it all, fear you're going to fail, you're going to lose your job, and if you lose your job you can't afford your house, and then you're going to be on the street, and what's ever going to think of you? Because you can't afford to feed your family. Again, dramatics for effect. But this is what your insides are doing, and this is why staying awake at 10 o'clock at night, and thinking that you have to get to that email because you're so stressed. And “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.” That's why it is so visceral and it is so real.
In addition to some of these very obvious ones, very obvious strategies, you could say, or behaviours that are fear based, sometimes our fear can actually wear specific masks, sometimes sneaky masks, so they're not parading as obviously as fear, but they're actually a way that we cover up our fear and tell ourselves a story. One of the ways that I know over the years is a mask that my fear can sometimes wear and this is very common in smart women is logic. Here's a million and one reasons why I shouldn't do this thing. You can convince yourself of anything. You can out, try to out, logic your fear and then you'll go, “Oh, that's okay.” “I didn't need to do that thing anyway.”
Meanwhile, it was the fear that actually won. And you've just mastered in logic. I see this all the time with women who are tossing up, “Do I come work with Jo?” “ Do I get some help from a coach?” They logic themselves as to why this isn't the path for them. When in reality, it's just fear, that they're worried that it won't work for them or maybe they're going to fail it. Or what happens if they've wasted some money? Or what are people going to think of them? And they should have this all together and they shouldn't need help. Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. But they can logic it's not the right time and we need to buy a new shed, so we shouldn't spend the money on me. And there's this whole stack of logic that we use to master fear.
Now, here's the challenge when it comes to some of these behaviours. And I hope that you recognise some of yourself in this to know that fear is actually ruling your life. Fear has you paralysed and fear is going to keep you exactly where you are. It is very difficult to change when you are ruled by fear. But, in reality, everything that you probably want, everything that you are longing for, is on the other side of that fear. And by that, I mean, the things that women tell me they want every day: Calm, confidence, contentment, fulfilment, joy and fun. These are all emotions, these are all feelings.
And there's one emotion that we need to find in order to access them, and this is an emotion that's going to allow us to break out of what you may have heard of our comfort zone, which is essentially this is you know, I'm in this space. Anything out of this is now going to have more fear. So we have fear inside, because what if I make a mistake? And what if I don't do this right? And what if I can't get it all done? And then, if we want to leave that, then more fear, well, hello. So so, so, so much fear everywhere.
What makes us worse right now, is we are in a world that is ruled by fear, because fear sells papers. There's a great quote that I learned when I was doing media training. And that was that “Small Earthquake, Not Many Injured”, does not sell newspapers. Fear sells. Fear gets clicks. And so, that is the whole point of the media. It is to stroke that up. And fear is incredibly contagious. All you have to do is, you know, be around a group of people, and something gets dark. He was like, “Oh my God, what's that?” And someone screams. And, oh my God, you know, our mind can play crazy tricks on us. This is the very reason. Judge me, if you may, but I don't watch the news. Very, very rarely do I scan the paper for things that interest me, because I don't want to pollute my energy. Because fear can be that insidious. And I'm not prepared to risk the level that I'm vibrating on. Because if I get into fear, because I can vibrate on such a strong level, I can pull everyone else around me.
And when we talk about emotions, all emotions ladder up fundamentally to two, and that is fear, and on the other side is love. So stress, overwhelm, procrastination, perfectionism, anger, guilt, shame, these are all made up of fear. I have to make a stand, and be on the other side of that. Which is on the side of love, and joy, and gratitude, and fun, and contentment, and peace, and fulfilment. All of these things that everybody tells me they want every day. And the challenge is, in order to get from where you are stuck in procrastination, you have to find one emotion. You have to find the courage to walk through the fear. You have to hear that biological imperative. Or I should say, almost feel that feeling in your body, that says, “Pay attention,” and says, “Don't move.” There's a whole stack of reasons why you shouldn't. But you have to decide that I'm actually going to ignore that voice, because what I want lies on the other side of that fear.
You may have heard the saying that fear is simply an opportunity for courage to show up. Without fear, there is no courage. There's no such thing as being a fraidy-cat, or being scared. This is now simply a chance to do it differently. A chance to tap into that higher version of you that now has decided that fear has a different meaning. I intentionally set myself a goal every month that scares the pants off me. I call it my SHIT goal.
I've set business goals, I've set personal goals, and that's because, if I'm not afraid of anything, if I'm not pushing myself outside my comfort zone, I'm not growing. I do not want to stay in my comfort zone, because I know there is always more fulfilment, there's more joy, there's more contentment, there's more peace, there's more fun, and I have to continue to grow myself, in order to get that. But if I'm going to grow myself, I acknowledge that fear comes with that. It is along with me for the ride. It's not something I get over once, and then move through, and it never comes back again.
And then I make this meaning of, “Oh, I'm doing it wrong.” “I'm scared.” “I'm wobbling.” “This is really scary.” “This doesn't feel good, and I'm not used to this.” “Yeah,” I go. “Okay, I don't listen to that fear anymore.” That doesn't mean sometimes it doesn't hook me and I don't go, “Oh, yeah, feeling that uncertainty.” “Okay, deep breath, all right.” “And now we take one step forward.” Because, I have to have a strong “why” and reason to step through the fear. And that might be, you know, the need to be there for my family. That might be the need for me to give back, and step into my purpose. You've got to find something that's going to allow you to walk through the fear. And you also need to ensure you are finding others to help you through it. Because, what do you think is going to happen?
The moment you start not listening to the fear and the sceptic, and the perfectionist, and you start stepping through that, you find the courage to take a big decision. Or take one little tiny step in the direction of what you want. Everybody else around you who is trapped by their fears goes, “No, don't do it!” “What are you doing?” “Oh, my gosh, you're going to die!” “You're going to get eaten by crocodiles!” And they come up with all these reasons why it's not going to work for you, or you shouldn't be doing this, or it isn't the smart choice.
So, I'm not saying don't listen to them. But you have to put that hat on yourself and say, “Right, if this was just me, and I put my blinkers on and I was standing in love, of myself, of my family, of what I'm here for, do I want to do this?” “Is this the next step for me?” Whatever that step, is that step towards the fear? The answer is usually “Yes.” And what's amazing, is the moment you step into the fear, the next step through your fear, it evaporates.
Every single person who has ever driven a manual car for the first time will remember that visceral fear of being on a hill and knowing the red light is ahead of you. As that light turns orange, I'm like “No, no, no, no, I have to stop.” And then, the moment it goes green, my heart rate escalates. And this fear of rolling back, and smashing into 15 cars while I'm revving the rubbish out of my handbrake, and I'm leaving rubber on the road. That was a visceral fear at the moment. I had to push through it. I had no choice. I was determined to drive my new car within a week. That fear is completely gone now, completely evaporated.
Everything you've done at the moment, you usually had to work through fear to get there, and you've forgotten that. So, you actually can build this muscle of moving through fear, of working through it. Finding others who are on this journey with you, to support you, as you step into the unknown. As you step off the cliff of “This is everything I've known”, “But I know there's something else that awaits for me on the other side, and I know that fear is going to be my companion on this journey.” I'm not going to feed it, I'm not going to give it a disempowering meaning, I'm not going to beat myself up because fear is there. I'm gonna say, “Hey, here?” “Awesome.” “If you're here, okay, here we grow again.” “It is time for me to buckle up, because everything I want is on the other side.”
So my question for you today is where is fear holding you back? Which of these behaviours are you engaging in? And if you were able to find the courage to step up, what would you do? Maybe it's to send an email with a typo in it and go, “Oh my gosh!” That's fear, okay. Maybe it's to stop procrastinating. Maybe it's to make a decision to get some support. Or ask a friend. To put your hand up and simply say, “I need help with something.” Maybe it's with a load of laundry, or for someone else to cook dinner. There are many, many ways we can step through this, but I promise, the moment you learn to confront the fear, the moment, the moment you understand how it's playing out in your life and start to see this as your companion, everything will change.
You will spend more time in love, you will spend more time enjoying peace and fulfilment. And you will know that every time you conquered that fear, it was absolutely worth the challenge. And you will know that every single time you conquered that fear, it was absolutely worth summoning that courage. Thanks for joining us today on the balance and beyond podcast.
OUTRO: Thank you for joining us today on the Balance and Beyond Podcast. We're so glad you carved out this time for yourself. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend who might need to hear this today. And if you're feeling extra generous, leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice would mean the world. If you’re keen to dive deeper into our world, visit us at www.balanceinstitute.com to discover more about the toolkit that has helped thousands of women avoid burnout and create a life of balance, and beyond. Thanks again for tuning in, and we'll see you next time on the Balance & Beyond Podcast.
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