At first, I was frozen with fear. Just a few weeks ago, I was on this ledge and totally panicked. No wonder I couldn't take a single step! Thankfully, it taught me how to get off the ledge and overcome intense fear, one step at a time.
How I Got Here
I'd been preparing for weeks and it was a frenzied rush to the deadline. I'd done my research, laid out my plans and set the stage for the new phase of my business. I had decided to re-enter the arena of food and weight loss coaching. It was time to launch - but I couldn't do it. The fear totally overwhelmed me. I was frozen. With good reason.
In the fall of 2013, my weight-loss coaching business came under attack after giving a keynote address to 1000 parents and kids. I had spoken about healthy after-school snacks and things families could do to be more active - "dangerous" topics. A complaint was filed and The MN Board of Nutrition and Dietetics ordered that I cease and desist coaching about nutrition. It took 18 excruciating months before being exonerated (found not guilty), but the damage was done. Everything I believed in and stood for had come under attack. My business and my belief in myself had been destroyed. Later, I learned there was a law passed in 2000 that would have protected me, but even my attorney didn't know about it. The end result was that I was terrified to speak publicly about anything related to nutrition and health.
Fast forward to 2020. I decided that I was ready to stop letting fear control me. I had all the legal protections in place and it was time to tell people I was once again offering weight-loss coaching. It felt like I was standing at the edge of a cliff, waiting to dive in, but couldn't move. "You know what happened last time you were in this arena," played in my head over and over.
To top it off, as incentive (more like punishment), I imposed a rule that I couldn't do anything I enjoyed until I first took action by jumping off this "cliff" and entering the arena. As you can imagine, this was wildly unsuccessful. The beatings will continue until morale improves. Yes, I unbelievably applied this ineffective strategy on myself.
No wonder I woke up on Valentine's day and couldn't think of a single thing I loved about myself. I'd slipped back into that shame-based belief that my worth is solely based upon my productivity. UGH!
It was time for an immediate intervention.
Asking For Creative Solutions
Clearly, I had no idea how to overcome fear this intense. I remember thinking, "I've never felt fear like this." None of my usual tools for addressing fear were working. I didn't know what to do, so I prayed for creative solutions for overcoming this fear like Gabby Bernstein suggested. I also made a commitment to show myself some love. Releasing the pressure to perform what my brain decided was a wildly dangerous activity, I spent the day doing things I enjoyed.
While at the library, I noticed two books on display: You Got This and My Anxious Mind - A Teen's Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic. As I stood there transfixed, I realized this was Divine intervention!
I had found exactly what I needed! These books helped me realize that I'd been standing on the edge of a cliff, telling myself to jump off and getting mad for not being able to do it. No wonder I was overcome with non-stop panic and anxiety.
Overcoming Fear, One Step At A Time
What I needed was not a parachute or more courage. I needed to get off the cliff and find a way to take action that wasn't all-or-nothing. The authors talked about a Fear Ladder, breaking down your progress into small, manageable steps. It took me a week to identify the steps that would take me from a fear level of 1 to 10. I'd foolishly started at level 10 - no wonder I was frozen!! As I shared my story with my support crew, they cheered me on.
I've spent the past few weeks working my way up the steps to the arena - feeling the fear and doing it anyway. The book also suggested using a fear thermometer to measure my level of anxiety as I work on each step. I'm proud to say, that I have been able to feel the fear, hang with it, and keep going. I'm feeling stronger, more confident and joy! Yep, you heard me. On the other side of fear, JOY was waiting for me! I didn't know that!!
So if you're frozen by an all consuming fear, give my Overcoming Fear Ladder a shot. There's no need to jump off cliffs! It's about progress, not perfection. And if you're stuck, you don't have to do it alone. I can help.
I BELIEVE IN YOU! YOU CAN DO THIS!
P.S. Writing this was Step 8! My throat felt like I was choking, but I kept typing. I must've read through it a hundred times, but now it's done. I hope it inspires you!