Functioning In The Face Of Fear

Last week I wrote about fear often being worse for you than the thing you are afraid of – unless, of course, you are wrestling a grizzly bear or some other genuinely life-threatening event.

Today I want to continue that thread with something a little more tangible that just the concept of fearing fear. I want to talk about how to function when you are struggling with fear.

Just to be clear – this is still not about grizzly bears! I’m talking about those everyday fears we all have…

“I’m afraid I will lose my job and then subsequently my house.”
“I’m afraid my partner will stop loving me.”
“I’m afraid if I start my own business I will crash and burn, and all of the doubters who mocked me will be proved right.”

The last one is particularly real for me right now. It is, in fact, my metaphorical grizzly bear.

Damn, those sneaky bears get everywhere!

Would you like a peek inside of my consciousness on a bad day? Here is an infographic:

fear of business failure

Although the cartoon cats make it seem cute, the reality in my head is far uglier.

But this is a personal development blog, not a diary of my darkest moments, so let’s talk about how I get through the bad days.

It’s about functioning at the right level.

If I under-functioned, I would be wrapped up in my duvet like a failure-burrito, watching soap operas and eating Oreos.

If I over-functioned I would be doing the sort of thing that Brene Brown described in her most recent book, Rising Strong – which I loved so much! She described how when her mother was taken into hospital she went into overdrive trying to organise everything and everyone, until her sisters stopped her. And what happened when they stopped her? She broke down and cried.

I love Brene’s work. I love how she explains human behaviour so well. The thing about over-functioning is it isn’t achieving any real traction on the problem. All it does is mask the issue with busyness, until the over-functioner cannot continue and becomes exhausted. And then where could you end up?…

Duvet-failure-burrito time!

So the trick to this, I believe, it to get a grip on your functioning. If you can manage your thoughts and your time well enough to get traction on the problem, without dipping too far into over or under-functioning (and neither of those work) you can make progress and get through the problem, whatever it is.

This makes me think of that old saying, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

The answer is not rushing, multi-tasking or working yourself into the ground.
The answer is not under the duvet.

The answer is small, consistent steps. Every. Single. Day.

Yes, it’s hard to hold yourself back from over-functioning when you feel you are losing the race. And yes, it’s hard to motivate yourself to take another step when you aren’t seeing results.

Just. Keep. Going.


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