Living With Fear by Judith Duval
This weekend I reached out to Judith Duval, the founder of a media & education company that inspires, teaches, and informs the Spanish speaking Hispanic community. She has been trained and certified in leadership by The Coaches Training Institute.
Fear can be paralyzing and keep us from living our dreams as well as rich and fulfilling lives; what can we do about fear?
If left to its own devices, fear will sabotage all our efforts to build the life we want to live. And yet, fear can be something that never goes away. There are very rare moments when we can just drop it, the way we would drop a hot potato, but most of the time, it comes down to moving forward despite the fear instead of wasting time, energy and emotional capital attempting to get rid it.
Often, we think we are the only ones who experience fear. We could even believe we belong to a special group of people who are subject to an acute level of fear that is insurmountable. We might believe that those out there doing what we want to do are not experiencing fear; that they have somehow been able to conquer ALL of their fears, something we will never be able to. That we are thus destined, unfairly, to live how we live.
What if making better choices and living the life we want to live is not the result of an absence of fear, but the result of an ability to move forward despite or with the fear? And that this ability is a result of decisions available to all of us, decisions that strengthen the muscles that allow us to move forward with the fear?
I love this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “…Every time that you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the dammed, once you have met it and lived through it you find that forever after you are freer than you ever were before…You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face…The danger lies in refusing to face the fear…You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
It’s important to be aware that fear can disguise itself in many ways: pride, jealousy, resentment, greed, hate… and it is important to understand these guises, so that we can recognize when it is present so that we can take responsibility and know what we are moving forward with. A good guide: where there is suffering there is fear.
What are some easy exercises that can help us live with our fear(s) and move forward / take action despite it?
Check your intention: In an argument, are you looking to hurt the other person? If so, your intention could reveal your resentment and self-righteousness (fear). When solving a problem at work, are you looking to feed an insecurity or support something that is greater than yourself? If so, your intention could reveal your self-doubt and anxieties (fear). If you inquire enough you will be able to witness hidden fears; awareness is the first step in moving forward.
Practice mindfulness: When you feel that pang of fear, practice mindfulness by bringing awareness to one of your five senses. For example, you might want to focus on your hearing. What do you hear right now (yes right now as you are reading this)? Take 6 deep breaths as you listen for the faint chirping of a bird or notice the complex noises that are present at a cafe. Do the same with smell. Can you smell anything in the air? Maybe something sweet? I was once practicing mindfulness in this way and discovered I was very close to a rose bush. I could have walked right by this beautiful blessing had I continued in my distracted (and unproductive) rumination! When you practice mindfulness, you bring attention to the present moment, helping your mind come back from the future, where it might be living in anxiety, or from the past, where it might be ruminating on regrets.
Practice gratitude: Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. As a professor of psychology at UC Davis, he has found that gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions, such as fear. His research found that you cannot feel envious (fear) and grateful at the same time as they are incompatible feelings. Try it right now: feel gratitude and resentment at the very same time… pretty hard to do right?
Judith Duval is the founder of a media and education company that inspires, teaches, and informs the Spanish speaking Hispanic community. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Judith started her career in finance and strategy/business development. Judith holds a BS in Economics from the Wharton School of Business and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and has been trained and certified in leadership by The Coaches Training Institute. Judith was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.