How To Replace Fear With Confidence

A line in Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, stopped me in my tracks. “I had fixated upon my fear as if it were the most interesting thing about me, when actually it was the most mundane.” I immediately realized that this was how I lived too many years of my life. I had let my fears — of public speaking and taking on new challenges, among others — take center stage for too long. I fed my fears energy and attention, as if they were worthy of reverence. With her simple statement, Gilbert shook me awake.

Our fears are not the most interesting thing about us.

So what is? Gilbert writes, “I had creativity within me that was original; I had a personality within me that was original; I had dreams and perspectives and aspirations within me that were original.”

Our personalities and perspectives and aspirations — those are what make us unique.

Taking that one step forward, what would it be like to refocus our energies and attention to these attributes? After all, these are the parts of us that connect us to others, allow us to make contributions to our world, and remind us what’s possible when we are at our best personally and professionally. Imagine what it would be like in a new situation to stop feeding the fear and instead feed the curiosity and confidence? It would move us from fear to confidence.

I realize that, in coaching, I do this all the time. A client will start speaking about a situation he or she is worried about — usually a situation at work or new challenge. As soon as the “fear” voice starts to speak, I redirect the conversation. “Instead of what you don’t know,” I say, “Let’s focus on what you DO know. List five things right now that you are good at.” Redirecting the coaching with this new perspective immediately changes the energy of the thinking from limiting fear to possibility and strength.

Physician, heal thyself. I know how to remind my clients that their fears are not the most interesting things about them. Now, at the start of 2016, it’s time to cement that idea into my brain. When I fall into the vortex of fear, I hereby resolve to stop, breathe, and remind myself what makes me unique. My ability to listen without judgment, my enthusiasm in guiding others, and my courage in trying new endeavors are only a few of those things.

What’s the most interesting thing about you?

Worried About Finances?

Being unemployed can take its toll mentally, physically, and emotionally. One common concern I hear from people who are unemployed is around finances. Having an income stream cut off or dry up can easily lead to anxiety, fear, and depression. It can also make people feel like they have little control and choice in life. The truth is that, even with financial constraints, you DO have control and choices around finances — both around income and expenses. Here’s another belief I hold: that even if you are unemployed, you have the right to smile, laugh, enjoy life, and have fun.

Lowering Expenses

Let’s talk about some of the choices you have around expenses. In addition to having choice around how you spend money and what you spend money on, you can choose to seek out resources to cut your costs.

For example, if you have medical bills, you should know that many hospitals and medical groups offer significant discounts for services paid in cash within 30 days of the service or treatment. If you are hospitalized, talk with the billing office, hospital staff, or social worker before you check out of the hospital to ask for help in lowering the bill. Depending on your situation, age, and condition, the hospital might have a foundation or other funds to assist you.

If you are worried about paying basic utilities, you can look into government programs that can help. In Massachusetts, here are places you can get help with fuel bills and other utilities.

Making Money

You also have choices around finding other ways to make money. You can choose to find a temporary job while you seek more permanent work. Some people refer to this type of temporary work as a “survival job.” Personally, I prefer the term “tapping into an alternative revenue stream.” Rather than think of it as surviving, think of it as tapping into your creativity and resilience.

You might ask, how can I make money? Plenty of ways. To get started, try brainstorming 20 ways you can make money legally and reasonably. You might think your choices are limited, but that’s simply not true. When I led this exercise at a recent conference, people got really creative. Some of the ideas they shared included being a practice patient at a medical center; teaching older adults to use technology; tutoring; and dog walking.

Trading Services

Don’t forget that in addition to cutting expenses and generating income, you can try bartering. Chances are, there are people who could use a skill you have. If you find that you are in need of a service, ask about an exchange of services. For instance, a coach I know provided coaching services to someone who completed a small home improvement project for her.

Remember: don’t let your financial situation define the essence of who you are. You are more than your checkbook balance. You have choices and you have control. Get creative, find support, and take charge of your life.