Welcome to Confused To Confident Where There's No (Unqualified) Fear
Hello all you wonderful women. What are you afraid of? Your list may be long, or you may only have one or two things you fear, but generally, fear makes up a large part of what we choose to do or not to do.
Have No Fear?
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.” or “Fear is our greatest enemy.” but did you ever stop to think about how much fear is a part of your life? Fear comes in all levels of intensity, and some of it can actually help us. Have you ever grabbed a jacket because you were afraid it might be cold in the theater or store or …? Or, brought along a snack to a softball game because you were afraid you might get hungry? Those fears can help you. They are a qualified fear.
A qualified fear is one where you look to past experience to determine what might happen in the future. If you’ve been cold when you went to a movie in the past, it's logical to fear that it may happen again. Now some of you may be saying “That’s not being fearful, that’s being smart.” I’m not saying it’s not sometimes smart to pay attention and act based on a fear. All I’m saying is, it is a fear of being cold that prompts you to bring a jacket.
It Is Fear
Let’s look at another example of qualified fear. Most of us look both ways before crossing a street. Why do we do this? We do it because we're afraid a car may come and run us over while we're crossing. This is a good practice based on what we know could happen. Even if you’ve never been run over by a car, you can tell by the cars whizzing by that you should be afraid of getting hit if you don’t wait until the way is clear. Now, what if your house was the only one at the end of a dead-end road. Chances are you would cross that street without looking for cars. You don’t have the fear that a car will be coming. Even though it is possible, the chance is low enough that you don’t fear it.
We make a lot of everyday choices based on fear. If we had no fear, we probably wouldn’t live long. Look at little kids, they don’t know any better, so they’d do all kinds of dangerous things if we didn’t stop them. They have no fear. The same can be said for those strung out on drugs, they do crazy, dangerous, sometimes deadly, things because their fear level is highly reduced. So those who say “Fear Not” don’t really mean to have no fear at all.
What is meant when people talk about overcoming your fears is to overcome your unqualified fears. Unqualified fear is the fear that keeps us from growing, that raises our stress levels unnecessarily, that holds us back from things that could make our lives better. Let’s look at a couple types of unqualified fear. The first is typically called worry. We worry we're going to be late, we worry when our kids stay out too late, we worry we're going to say something dumb at an interview. This type of fear is unproductive and causes unneeded stress.
Let It Go
Think of it this way. If you can’t change the outcome by anything you do, then let it go. You being afraid about something bad happening does nothing to make a positive difference. Some people even believe that by focusing on the bad that could happen, you can actually create the negative outcome. Whether you can create a negative outcome or not, you definitely harm your health by being in the state of fear for a prolonged time. I’m not going to go into all the negative health affects fear can have, that would be another entire post, but those long periods you sit and worry about things that you can’t do something to change, can cut years off your life.
Can You Change Things?
The key to this type of fear is not being able to do anything to change the outcome. Let’s look at the example of being afraid you'll be late for a job interview. If you are still at home and have this fear, you may be able to do something about it. Maybe don’t eat breakfast or skip the second layer of mascara. It doesn’t matter what it is, you still have some control, so the fear is working for you by motivating you to hurry. At this point it's a qualified fear.
Now, let’s look at that same fear after you start driving. How fast you go is mostly out of your control. There are speed limits and traffic controls you need to follow, and screaming at the car in front of you is not going to make it go any faster. At this point the fear is working against you. It’s building up stress which makes it more difficult to remain calm and react quickly in traffic. It also puts you in a harried state of mind when you walk in for the interview. If you are going to be late, you’re going to be late. At least walk in calm and composed. Also, if your mind is relaxed, you are better able to come up with a great excuse for being late. During the drive, it has become an unqualified fear.
Don't Hold Back
Another unqualified fear is the type that holds you back from greatness or fulfillment in your life. Things like turning down a once in a lifetime trip with a friend because you're afraid you could lose your job next week, or, you're afraid to quit your job and start your own business, even though you have enough clients lined up to keep you going for at least a year, are fears that hold you back. These fears are a little more tricky and need to be evaluated closer. Is the fear backed by some facts you should pay attention to, thereby making it a qualified fear?
For instance, if there have been numerous layoffs at your job recently and your department is next, you may have good reason to pass on the trip. However, if you have a stable job at a stable company, you best be getting on that plane. Sure, anything can happen and you could still lose your job but you are depriving yourself of joy based on an unqualified fear.
The same process goes in the example of being afraid to leave your job. If you have a faint idea of a business you may have some interest in, but you don’t really know how you’re going to put the ideas together to make money on them, you may want to wait to quit your job. Unless you have a really big savings account, your fear of not having enough money is qualified and you should listen to it. However, if you have a business plan set, clients just waiting for you to open the doors, and it’s a passion you’ve had for a long time, quit your job tomorrow and go for it.
Letting that type of unqualified fear hold you back will highly limit your life’s joy and fulfillment. This is a big one for a lot of us. We’re afraid we aren’t good enough or smart enough or … I’m telling you, you are just as good and just as smart as any other successful businesswoman. The only difference between you and some of those women who bring in seven figure incomes, is your fear.
Not all fear is bad, but the fear that is can cause you to live an unrewarding, unfulfilling, and unhealthy life. Let’s start eliminating the unqualified fear from our lives. The activity this week will be a step to help you get started.
Activity - No (Unqualified) Fear
At the end of the day take a few minutes to think about the fear in your life that day. See if you can identify at least two qualified fears that helped you. Then, see if you can identify any unqualified fear that may be holding you back or causing you stress.
You may want to do this each day for a few weeks and write down your observations. See if there’s a pattern to the type of unqualified fears you have. Are there changes you can make that will reduce or eliminate the fears that are hurting you or holding you back?
Leave a comment below to share your fears with us. Sometimes sharing them helps them diminish. Have a great week.