Entries Tagged as Overcome Fear

Challenging Your Comfort Zone

June 07, 2017 ·

“The only way to change your future is to step off the path and step into the forest.” Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak

Comfort zones. We all have them. It’s how we make ourselves feel safe and secure. “For each one of us that zone of comfort is different, but whether we are aware of it or not, all of us—rich or poor, low or high on the totem pole, male or female—make decisions based on the confines of that comfortable space,” wrote Susan Jeffers in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

While comfort zones, by their very definition, are comfortable. “Most of us operate within a zone that feels right, outside of which we are uncomfortable. For example, we might be willing to initiate friendships with people at the office who are at our level in the company, but would be uncomfortable doing so with one of the higher-ups. We might go to the local deli when eating alone, but would feel really uncomfortable in a luxurious restaurant all by ourselves. We might ask for a $5,000 raise, but $7,000 would make us cringe. We may charge $30 an hour for our services, but we don’t feel that we are worth $35. And so on.”

Staying in our comfort zones means taking no risks and meeting no challenges. It means that what you have today will be it. Comfort zones feels secure, but the security is really a false comfort.

You have a decent job for a good company and you can see it going on this way for years. But what if the market collapses, or funding dries up, or management decides to go in a new direction, or the company goes bankrupt? Then that “security” you were relying on is not so sheltering as you thought it would be.

So what if you kept yourself prepared by constantly enlarging your comfort zone? What if you stepped off the safety of the path and headed into the uncharted? Who knows? Great things are waiting for you if you leave the protection of your comfort zone. There might also be some scary things there too. But unless you branch out, you will never know!

Tags: Confidence · Overcome Fear

Turn It Over

March 07, 2017 ·

Sometimes things don’t happen just as we want. In fact, that probably happens more often than not. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen for a reason. It means that we aren’t privy to the ‘why.’ However hard we work, no matter how much time and effort we put into a project, no matter how much time we put into our jobs, we ultimately have very little control over the outcome.

Yet we do have the choice in how we react to that outcome. And we have the choice to trust that what happened was for the best.

Maybe there is a job you’re hoping to get and some someone else not as qualified as you got the job. That seems so unfair. You find yourself angry and not a little worried about what that means for your future success. The negative chatterbox in your mind is telling you tales of gloom and doom about how the world is ending and other tall tales.

When you are in the throes of negative thinking it can be hard to remember that you do have a choice. You can let the episode destroy your peace of mind and weigh you down or you turn it over to the wisdom within.

Susan Jeffers wrote in End the Struggle and Dance With Life, “When I say, ‘Turn it over,’ I mean TURN IT OVER. And when I say ‘Trust,’ I mean TRUST! My own experiences in life have convinced me that things happen in our lives for very good reasons. Our very limited minds may not understand it all, but the Spiritual part of who we are understands perfectly. So when doubt comes creeping in, as it always will, it serves our peace of mind to keep repeating to ourselves over and over again that wonderful affirmation... It’s all happening perfectly!”

None of us can ever know the answer to all of our questions, but we need to remember that there are answers we will never be privy too … and that’s OK! If you focus on learning and growing instead of the anger and fear you will feel yourself lighten up as the heavy weight negativity goes away. The way events unfold is just a process of living. Like breathing or blinking, there is only so much we can do. Turning over the need to control and depressed feelings is one thing you can do. And you’ll feel so much better.

So remember, “With the enormous peace of mind that the thought ‘it’s all happening perfectly’ gives you, you move forward with the assurance that there is a meaning and purpose to it all.”

Tags: Confidence · Overcome Fear · Personal Development

This Is Not the Year of Fear

January 27, 2016 ·

“Considering how dangerous everything is, nothing is really very frightening!” - Gertrude Stein

At the beginning of the year, BBC News in the UK published an article called “U.S. Set For Year of Fear,” which explained how politicians in a major election year exploit and expound upon people’s fears. As 2016 is a presidential election year in the U.S., the article explains that during these big election cycles each candidate makes themselves out to be the hope and the solution, all the while stirring up fears in their constituents about “this dangerous time in history.”

Fear sells … whether it’s an election or products or services … and there are plenty of things to be scared of. Susan Jeffers wrote in her book, End the Struggle and Dance with Life, “I certainly don't need to remind you that this is a world where dangers lurk everywhere. Our newspapers and television news shows present us with a daily litany of violence, incurable diseases, natural disasters and an untold number of tragedies that could befall anyone of us, at any age, at any time of day. It makes one want to turn and run the other way. But where is there to run? Nowhere!”

She went on to write that it often feels that fear plagues our modern world. “We fear beginnings; we fear endings. We fear changing; we fear ‘staying stuck.’ We fear success; we fear failure. We fear living; we fear dying.”

Modern society is built upon fear. How can politicians save us if there isn’t a bogeyman? How can companies sell us their products if they don’t make us feel that we don’t have enough? Even the media—newspapers, magazines, TV shows, websites—are concerned with making us fear the world so that we turn to them for answers. We feel like we have to keep up with all the latest developments on scandals and murders—read and watch and consume all the terrible happenings in the world.

But you know what? We don’t. In Susan’s landmark book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, she wrote at the very beginning, “You may be surprised and encouraged to learn that while inability to deal with fear may look and feel like a psychological problem, in most cases it isn’t. It is primarily an educational problem, and that by reeducating the mind, you can accept fear as simply a fact of life rather than a barrier to success.”

Fear doesn’t have to be a way of life. All the things going wrong in the world are only a small part of the whole story. When you rearrange your thinking, how you look at the world, when you learn to see past the fear mongering, you’ll notice that there is a lot of good. In many ways, there is more good in the world than bad. But misery and fear don’t sell products or get people elected to office.

You get to choose how you interact with the world. You have a choice to see the world as a good place or a place of fear. 2016 doesn’t need to be a year of fear. It only will be if you let it.

Tags: Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Individual Training · Overcome Fear · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Inspirational Quotes

December 01, 2015 ·

Susan Jeffers was devoted to studying diverse ways to connect with our higher selves. In doing so, she was an avid reader and always made notes of passages and sayings that she found particularly thought provoking or meaningful. She would refer to her favorites for inspiration often. She also recommended in her teachings that this is a wonderful way to keep out the chatterbox and keep focused on our blessings.

Here are some that she used frequently that you may find useful in your own lives:

“An old woman, when asked why she was always cheerful, replied: “Well, I wear this world just as a loose garment.” – Unknown

“Ships in harbor are safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” – John Shedd

“For true peace of mind we must acknowledge whatever fault we live upon, whatever time bomb ticks in our closet, and enjoy our Shangri-la nonetheless.  It isn't the absence of the problem; it is how one lives in its presence that matters.” – Chungliang Al Huang

“The best way out is always through.” – Helen Keller

“I’m not a failure if I don’t make it . . . I’m a success because I tried.” – Unknown

“Considering how dangerous everything is, nothing is really very frightening!” – Gertrude Stein

“In daily life, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Brother David Steindl-Rast

Tags: Individual Training · Overcome Fear · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Genuinely Contributing to the Workplace

November 23, 2015 ·

“If we are constantly expecting, we will spend a great deal of our lives disappointed that the world isn’t treating us right.” - Susan Jeffers

We all go to work each day with the basic expectation that we will be compensated for our efforts. Yet how many of us go to work each day and expect praise or acknowledgement, attention, or returned favors? We get in the habit, whether we like our job or not, to expect that when we contribute to the company or business we will get a return above and beyond compensation. We aren’t giving because it is the right thing to do. We are giving from a mentality of “what’s in it for me?”

This is a fearful way to approach a work environment. Always looking at how your actions will benefit yourself is an act of fear. People who feel this way will never be able to genuinely contribute, to their jobs or their personal lives. They are filled with a sense of scarcity, as if there isn’t enough to go around and if they share what they have, they fell they will be left with nothing. The fear is that there is not enough love, not enough money, not enough praise, not enough attention—simply not enough.

As Susan Jeffers wrote, “Usually fear in one area of our lives generalizes, and we become closed down and protective in many areas of our lives. Fearful people can be visualized as crouched and hugging themselves.”

This fearfulness can manifest in the workplace as:

  • Successful business people needing their boss’s approval
  • Coworkers that seem to be competing with everyone
  • Company executives who make harmful, irresponsible decisions
  • Persons who have to control everything down to the tiny details
  • Coworkers who always expect the “favor” to be returned

These people are all operating, in some way, out of a sense of fear for their own survival. As Susan said, “They all are, in effect, crouched and withholding inside.”

She wrote, “If you recognize yourself in this description, join the rest of us. There are few in our society who have actually been taught the secrets of growing up and giving. We have been taught the illusion of giving, but not the actuality of giving. As we have been taught to be careful in terms of our physical safety, we have also been taught not to let anyone con us or take advantage of us. As a result, unless we get something back, we feel used.”

But it doesn’t have to be this way. If you feel as if you are doing extra to contribute in order to get “paid back” in some way, then you need to step away and think about why. What need are trying to fulfill? When you address that part of you, you will be able to turn off the negative mind-set of “what’s in it for me?” and become a person who acts on “what can I do to help?”

Learning to give genuinely is a lesson easily learned but hard to put into practice. Yet it is a reachable goal. One that is very much worth reaching for. 

Tags: Confidence · Corporate Training · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Leadership Development · Overcome Fear · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Living in the Now

November 04, 2015 ·

“If you see your tasks in life as drudgery, then they are drudgery. On the other hand, if you see them as an opportunity, then your tasks in life will take on brighter meaning.” - Susan Jeffers

A few months ago on this blog, we talked about the “When…Then” type of life. As Susan Jeffers described it in End the Struggle and Dance With Life, “we get in the habit, from a very early age, of looking forward to the big events in our lives…We expect to find happiness only in these brief, but exciting, events. We tell ourselves that when we go on vacation then we’ll be happy. Or when we retire then we’ll pursue those hobbies we’ve always wanted to do.”

The way to counteract the “When…Then” lifestyle is to be mindful of what is going on around you every second of the day. Rather than watching the clock tick away until “quitting time,” think about how you can make each moment count by giving it your full attention.

To follow-up, we wanted to give you a practical example of how this approach worked for one person. Tracy was working at a job in marketing for a non-profit company. It was not a job that she wanted, she had aspirations in a different industry, but she had taken it because she needed a job and an acquaintance, one of the managers, desperately needed staff. After nearly a year at the job, she was miserable. Her misery isolated her, keeping her from making friends with her colleagues or even noticing that there might be a friend among them. For their part, her colleagues kept their distance, everybody too busy to try and befriend someone with a miserable personality.

Then, getting tired of being unhappy, Tracy signed up for a self-improvement course. She shortly discovered that it wasn’t her job that was making her miserable, it was her own attitude towards it. Tricia vowed to make changes in her life and over the next few months really worked to change her attitude.

The job she had wasn’t the one she wanted, but it was a good job nonetheless. Tracy found that the part of her job that she liked—event planning—was similar to the career she really wanted. She put her best effort into learning all she could about that part of her job, while making an effort to participate more in meetings and in casual conversation with her colleagues.

Her transformation was amazing. She became an integral part of the company’s team and she began to really enjoy the work she was doing to support the company. Work was no longer eight hours of drudgery, but an experience of growth. When an opportunity came along in the field she had originally wanted, she had more than enough experience to go for it, and when she left the company, she did so knowing she had contributed positively.

Tags: Confidence · Corporate Training · Leadership Development · Overcome Fear · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Change Is Scary, But You Don’t Have to Be Afraid

October 12, 2015 ·

Change can be scary for everyone, but it is often even more frightening when it happens in the workplace. So many of us get used to our “daily grind” that when something happens to change it we find our fear levels amped up and rising, even if we are not under direct threat of losing our position. Whether it’s a company buyout, new management, or just a minor change in staffing, the uncertainty that comes with change can make us feel threatened. Yet fear will not help us do our jobs better. We are more likely to undermine our good intentions and efforts when working under the burden of fear, leading us to feel powerless.

In Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers offers a number of exercises that can help us feel noticeably more powerful when confronted with changes to our work environment. Adapted from those exercises are five that can help us deal positively, rather than fearfully, with workplace change.

  1. When facing a change at work we are often holding on to a “picture” of what we think it should be. What image are you holding onto? Be as honest with yourself as you possibly can. When you are aware that you are seeing things as you wish them, you can stop yourself to take another look to how things really are.
  2. Be mindful of all the options you have during the course of a given day. When uncertainty begins to overwhelm you, think instead of all the possible ways you can act and feel about the situation. Be conscious of the alternatives available to you. Make it a game. In no way should you put yourself down for being upset. Those worries are a great clue as to where you need to begin changing your thinking.
  3. Take a pen and paper, or open a new document on your computer, and make a list of all the choices available to you. In every situation there are at least thirty ways to change your point of view. Writing them down helps you to clearly see all angles, giving you the opportunity to choose the most auspicious mindset.
  4. Notice how you talk with coworkers. If your conversation includes a lot of complaining and blaming, think about ways you can communicate your opinions without being negative. If you find that some colleagues are continually negative and unsupportive, try to avoid them, if possible.
  5. Look for any gifts you are receiving from the change you’re experiencing. It may not seem like there are any, but if you look at things differently you may be surprised. Think about it: you may be garnering further career experience, maybe you could come up for promotion earlier than expected, or maybe you’re just being given the opportunity to really evaluate what you want out of your career. Any happening can be a gift if you look for it.

Change is scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Recognize your fears and then turn your mind to more constructive thinking. It may be hard to put your worries to the side, but far more constructive to find the optimistic aspects of any situation.

The important thing to remember is that change is not the end of the world—it never has been. Change is really about new beginnings. New starts may be a little scary, but they are also exciting, giving us the chance to stretch outside our old limits. 

Tags: Corporate Training · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Overcome Fear · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers

Winning at the Indecision Game

September 30, 2015 ·

You’ve got a decision to make. It might be as insignificant as choosing which pens to keep in the company supply closet. Or it could be very important, like choosing a software to help your company stay competitive in its field. We all face decisions every day—thousands of small and large choices to make. With all the responsibility and stress involved, it is no wonder that we can sometimes become indecisive. One of the biggest things that can keep us from moving ahead with our lives is the fear involved in making decisions.

It can take a lot out of us when we are indecisive. The worrying and fretting, the negative chatter going on in our heads. This is incredibly detrimental to our well-being and can negatively affect our work. Susan Jeffers, in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, called it the No-Win model of thinking. In this line of thinking, when you stand at the “Choice Point” of making a decision, “You feel somewhat paralyzed as you think about the consequences in life-and-death terms. You look at the unknown and try to predict the future; you try to take control of outside forces. Both are impossible. At this point you might notice that you are driving yourself crazy.” If you choose Path A or Path B both are going to be the wrong choice because you will constantly be reassessing the situation hoping that you didn’t make a mistake.

Susan recommends approaching decision making using the No-Lose Model of decision making. The No-Lose model reminds us that whatever we decide, it will be OK. Even if the decision we make doesn’t work out exactly as we wanted, it is still the RIGHT decision. It works this way, when you find yourself at the “Choice Point” and you have two or more options to choose from, look at the unique opportunities that are available in both choices. Know that there is no such thing as a “wrong” choice. Every opportunity offers its own set of benefits and learning experiences. It comes down to how you look at it.

That is not to say that you should blindfold yourself and choose one path at random. When you are faced with a decision there are five steps you should take before deciding anything:

  1. Focus on the opportunities
  2. Do your homework and research
  3. Establish your priorities
  4. Trust your impulses
  5. Lighten up!

Then, once you have made your decision, make sure you:

  1. Throw away your picture of what you think the outcome should look like
  2. Accept total responsibility for your decisions
  3. Don’t protect the decision, make corrections to it as needed.

Susan said, “Remember that underlying our indecision is a lack of trust in ourselves.” So trust yourself and the decisions you make and know that there are opportunities available to you no matter what you decide. 

Tags: Confidence · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Individual Training · Leadership Development · Overcome Fear · Susan Jeffers

What Can Happen When the Bottom Line is Expanded

September 16, 2015 ·

In the last blog, we talked about making room in your work goals to be a more connected coworker. In this blog, we want to show you an example of how it can work. This is an example taken from Susan Jeffers book Dare to Connect.

In one of my workshops, I instructed all my students to try expanding the bottom line and participating full-out in their jobs for one entire week. I asked them to “act-as-if” their actions really made a difference to everyone around them. The key question they were to ask themselves during the week was:

“If I were really important here, what would I be doing?”

And then they were to set about doing it. Peggy resisted the assignment. She lamented that she hated her job in a public relations firm and was just biding her time until she found a new one. Each day was pure drudgery as she watched the clock slowly move through the eight painful hours. With great skepticism, she finally agreed to try it for just one week, to expand her bottom line and commit 100% to her job, knowing that she really counted.

The following week, as I watched Peggy walk into the room, I couldn’t believe the difference in her energy level. She reported the events of her week:

“My first step was to brighten up the dismal office with some plants and posters. I then started to really pay attention to the people I work with. If someone seemed unhappy, I asked if there was anything wrong and if I could help. If I went out for coffee, I always asked if there was anything I could bring back for the others. I complimented people. I invited two people for lunch. I told the boss something wonderful about one of my co-workers. (Usually I’m selling myself!)

Then I asked myself how I could improve things for the company itself. First I stopped complaining about the job—I realized I was such a nag! I became a self-starter and came up with a few very good ideas which I began implementing. Every day I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish and I set about accomplishing them. I was really surprised by how much I could do in a day when I focused on what I was doing! I also noticed how fast the day goes by when I am involved. I put a sign on my desk that said, ‘If I were really important here, what would I be doing?’ And every time I started to fall back into my old patterns of boredom and complaining, the sign reminded me what I was supposed to be doing. That really helped.”

What a difference a simple expansion of the bottom line made in just one short week! It made Peggy feel connected to everyone and everything around her—including the organization itself.

It’s important to note that her commitment didn’t mean she had to stay at this job forever; it only meant that while she was there it was in everyone’s best interest, particularly her own, to create a caring environment. Who wants to spend their days in an energy filled with alienation, boredom and negativity? (I would find it strange if anyone answered YES to that question!) It is also worth noting that with such positive energy, the likelihood of Peggy getting a great recommendation and finding a new, more challenging job would be greatly increased!

Tags: Confidence · Corporate Training · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Individual Training · Overcome Fear · Personal Development

The Chatterbox vs. Affirmations

July 21, 2015 ·

Our inner voices often seem to have an agenda of their own, and often they can be downright pessimistic. Susan Jeffers called this discouraging inner voice “the Chatterbox.”

Susan explained: “The Chatterbox is the little voice inside, the voice that tries to drive you crazy— and often succeeds! I’ll bet some of you don’t even know it’s there, but I promise you it holds the key to all your fears. It’s the voice that heralds doom, lack, and losing. We’re so used to its presence we often don’t even notice it is talking to us.”

The Chatterbox can be especially devastating in our working lives. The Chatterbox picks up on all the tiny disappointments, slights, and fears we face and amplifies them tenfold. When we feel passed over, when a colleague is disrespectful, when we feel as if our workload will never get finished, all of these things and more feed the Chatterbox—which then plays all those things back to us, repeatedly, until it informs our state of mind.

But, you can beat the Chatterbox! You can push that inner voice far enough back so that it can’t forecast doom and gloom. Susan’ prescription is to outtalk your negativity.

Certainly, it is a challenge and a big one at that, but it can be done. In Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan described a number of tools to outtalk your Chatterbox. The number one tool she always supported was using affirmations.

An affirmation is a positive statement that something is already happening. It’s not happening tomorrow or in the future, but right now. An affirmation is self-talk in its highest form. It’s one of your greatest tools, and the easiest and cheapest to use.

An affirmation can be anything—a positive statement, a quote that inspires you, even “feel the fear and do it anyway”—as long as it is meaningful to you. Choose one or several, use the same ones every day or change them with your mood. What do you do with all these inspiring words? Repeat them. Repeat them often. Write them down and put them around your workspace. Use these positive statements to help outtalk the Chatterbox. When you realize that you are getting mired in the gloom of the Chatterbox, drown it out with your affirmations.

It will take time to retrain your mind, but you will find yourself better able to tackle each work day since nothing, not even your own Chatterbox, can get you down.

Tags: Confidence · Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway · Individual Training · Overcome Fear · Personal Development · Susan Jeffers