I am married to the Clark Griswold of Halloween. He has successfully trained up all of our children to love scaring people as much as he does. They call themselves “The Halloween Planning Committee” and they literally spend this entire month plotting and scheming to create a graveyard of horrors guaranteed to frighten grown adults to the brink of tears. I guess I could attribute my decision to write a series on ‘Fear’ this month to the fact that being afraid and making other people afraid makes up the majority of all conversations in The Crabb Shack during the month of October, but really that would only be the partial truth.
To be 100% honest, the real reason I decided to write on fear was completely selfish. I’m writing this series for myself.
Fear is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember. Sure, I’ve done a lot of brave things in my life. But I’ve lost count of all the things I’ve let fear steal from me over the years: time, opportunities, goals, aspirations, even, at times, my peace of mind.
If any of this resonates with you right now and you’re nodding your head, then read on, my friend, because I am about to share what I have found to be the key to facing our fears and overcoming them. This tiny, 4-letter word is THE difference maker in this whole process. But first, let’s do a little review.
I began by calling out our fears; giving them a NAME. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of inadequacy, fear of the unknown, fear of not being enough. And last week I talked about digging in and coming up with a PLAN. This begins when we analyze why we are afraid and then develop a plan for how we will continue moving toward our dreams and goals when the inevitable doubts and fears arise.
However, this next part is where the rubber meets the road. If we truly want to find freedom from our fear at some point we will be required to reach beyond ourselves and SEEK. This part requires us to look outside of ourselves and admit that we need other things and people. This is extremely difficult for me personally because I pride myself on being strong and self-reliant. I absolutely hate feeling needy and vulnerable, so this is where I typically get stuck.
There are four essential elements that we must seek as we lean in to face our fear. They’re easy to remember because they form an acronym (which ironically also makes another 4-letter word!). When we are trying to break free from a fear that is holding us back, the four elements we must seek are Wisdom, Help, Inspiration, and Motivation or ‘WHIM.’
Wisdom: For me, this starts in the Word of God. Who does He say that I am? Am I a failure? Am I enough? Am I rejected? When I measure what I’m telling myself against the truth found in Scripture, I always walk away with less anxiety and more clarity. If you’re not a spiritual person try journaling and asking yourself questions like, “Am I really a failure at life or just at this one thing?” “What successes have I experienced?” “What did I learn from my past successes and failures that I could apply in this situation?”
Help: I am a helper by nature and having to be helped usually takes me way out of my comfort zone. But I’ve learned that this is pride in its purest and most raw form. I’ve learned the hard way that I cannot hold my pride and my victory at the same time. I have to be willing to surrender one or the other. Human beings were created to do life in community with others. Enlisting the support of a friend, seeking out a mentor, or hiring a coach might be the one key ingredient you need to consider in order to get from where you are (stuck in fear) to where you want to be (victorious and free!). What is holding you back from asking for the support you need?
Inspiration: I read a blog post once that defined inspiration as a ‘pull’ that comes from somewhere deep inside of ourselves; a force in our guts that keeps us going when we really just want to give up. I believe with all my heart that this comes from identifying your core values and living in alignment with them. I refer to core values as a person’s ‘anchors’ because they are the very things that hold them steady when the storms of fear, worry, and doubt threaten to pull them under. I ask every client I coach to begin with a core values exercise and as we lean into those values in each session, a clear path forward begins to emerge.
Motivation: The same blog post that referred to inspiration as a ‘pull’ described motivation as a ‘push;’ an outside force that compels and propels you to keep working toward your goal. Motivation is often linked to some sort of external reward. I put in the extra work so I earn a pay raise or a bonus. I spend an extra 30 min on the treadmill so I can enjoy a piece of dessert or a glass of wine with dinner. But motivation doesn’t have to come from a reward, it can also come from the community you choose to rely on for help. A friend can agree to cheer you on. A mentor or a coach can provide encouragement and accountability to keep you moving forward.
I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life naming my fears and planning ways around them and through them, but I’ve almost always fallen short when it came to seeking the elements I needed to keep moving forward. The truth is, I’ve let countless dreams die and wonderful opportunities pass me by all because of my own foolishness and pride. And while I don’t know this for certain, I suspect that someone reading this can say the same.
If that someone is you, let me assure you that there is a path forward and it begins with a choice….a choice only you can make. The Truth is that “anyone who seeks, will find” (Matthew 7:8 GNT).
Will you choose to humbly seek?