Marly Minute: Facing Your Fears

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Today launches a new series. And I thought I’d call this one the Marly Minute: Facing Your Fears. It’s a good topic, it’s easy to allow fear to run behind your personal operating system. If you’re not careful it starts taking over everything. The best antidote? Honesty. So, on today’s Marly Minute, I’m going to be sharing with you the ways I’m learning to face my fears.

 

Namely Marly Podcast Episode 50: Facing Your Fears | Photo credit: Leio McLaren

Somehow this blog, Namely Marly, has turned into a 100% vegan recipe blog. And I love vegan recipes and I’m very committed to continuing to provide the best recipes and photos possible, but, there’s more to life than just food. In fact, at some point along the way I realized I was hiding behind these recipes, sharing only a thin veneer version of myself.

Me? Hiding behind food? How original. Sigh. Some patterns never change, they just put on different wardrobes.

So, I’m starting the Marly Minute series to share more about life and to talk about more of the behind the scenes stuff here at Namely Marly. And we’re starting with an important topic, facing your fears.

Do you know what’s caused me to delay sharing more about myself? Fear. I have a lot of fears, like wooden spoons. Well, maybe that’s more of a hate, but I avoid them like the plague. I don’t know why, but for some reason, holding an unvarnished wooden utensil in my hand is akin to running fingernails across a chalkboard.

I’m also have other fears. Like, I’m afraid that I’m not skinny enough, not pretty enough, not young enough, not smart enough, etc. These are things that make me feel vulnerable, but for some reason they don’t hold me back.

What I want to talk with you about today are the kinds of fears that keep me from being who I really am; from using my voice the way it’s meant to be.

To be exact, four things make me afraid to say what’s on my mind:

I’m afraid I’ll say something that might offend someone. It’s the chronic people pleaser in me. I hate it. But this fear of saying something I know others won’t like is with me all the time, like a colander, holding back the words that come to my mind, allowing the other stuff to flow freely.

I talked about it in my post on How Not to be a Doormat. Being a people pleaser can leave you feeling like you’re less valuable than everyone around you, and that’s a toxic thought.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the years on this topic. If there’s something I want to say and I’m worried it will hurt their feelings, the very first thing I do is ask myself, is saying this thing necessary? Sometimes the answer is, No. Not every battle has to be fought; you have to choose them wisely.

When the answer is Yes, then I go through this process in finding my voice:

  • If I need to say something and I’m worried it will hurt the other person’s feelings, I take a deep breath and center myself
  • Next, I remove myself from their head. I may think this will hurt their feelings, but my place is to not be imagining what they’re thinking. I may misinterpret their facial expressions, and thereby increase my anxiety by feeling worried about their thoughts.
  • Oftentimes I will begin my statement with a brief explanation. Something like this, “I need to tell you something and I’m not certain how to say it so you can receive it, but I’m going to say it the best that I can.” Something to that effect. This opening statement has helped me time and time again.
  • Usually I will end with some kind of assessment with that individual to see if she/he heard it the way I intended it. I might even ask them to repeat back to me what they thought I said.
  • Facing Your Fears

Communication is a tricky thing, but these steps have helped me with difficult conversations. As a result, it gets easier to have those. Turns out, difficult conversations are like everything else, the more you have of them, the easier it gets.

I’m afraid I’ll say something and be wrong. Here’s the deal, sometimes I get passionate about things. And when I’m passionate, there’s a chance I might spout off about a thing or two. And in that moment of passion, it’s possible I might not always be right.

But here’s one thing I’m not afraid of…to admit when I’m wrong.

A colleague once told me that she never wanted to say anything she’d have to apologize for later. I thought about that a long time; mulled it over. It’s an interesting idea, but one that seems to be rooted in perfectionism.

If I live under the mantra of trying to be perfect, well, I would never say anything!

I don’t really mind saying I’m wrong, but it still brings a little fear in my mind…mostly because of the next point.

I’m afraid I’ll say something that will cause you to not like me. I imagine the people pleaser and the wanna-be liked personas are close cousins. It’s annoying to have both traits living in one head.

As much as I know that “not everyone is going to like me,” I still can’t help wanting to be the kind of person everyone likes. I think of someone like Joe Biden, who seems to have friends on both sides of the political aisle. That’s not an easy task, but he does it with such ease!

For me, the thin line I have to balance is exactly what the Indigo Girls sing about, “it’s a thin line between pleasing yourself and pleasing somebody else.”

What I’ve had to realize is that I want to be liked, sure, but not for being someone I’m not. You know? If I’m being myself and you like me, then great!

But if I’m not being myself and you like me, then is it real?

That’s rhetorical, you don’t have to actually answer that question.

Just by saying I’m vegan, there may be some people who won’t like me.

In fact, there are a lot of vegans who don’t like me. I know, bizarre. But I am a secular vegan. I’m not dogmatic about my veganism. And that means there are some vegans that don’t like me, because only their version of veganism is correct.

Who knew veganism could be so complicated. 🙄

So, it’s true that being liked is something that brings me pleasure, but I’m learning there’s no way to make everyone like you. At least not all of the time.

It’s very possible that the goal of getting everyone else to like me is simply a theatrical curtain I use to distract myself from the really important stage.

I mean, the real question should be do I like me? Do I show myself the respect and admiration that I deserve? Wow. That’s a tough one. Because in the end, I’m similar to a lot of people pleasers in that I can be over-the-top pleasant with everyone else, and a little bit harsh with myself.

My internal dialog is loaded with things like, you’re so stupid and what’s wrong with you! I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t put up with a friend talking with me like that, so I don’t know why I tolerate it from my own internal banter.

It’s something I’m working on, for sure!

I’m afraid I’ll say something and change my mind

One of my biggest goals over the last few years is this: I don’t want to be anything but 100% genuine.

On paper what I want is to be an unwavering, unchanging person. I want to know what I stand for and to be behind it 100%.

That’s pretty simple. Right?

The problem is, when I think of people like that — who are unwavering, unchanging, I find them fairly uninteresting. The unwavering mentality can edge a little too close to a dogmatic cliff.

I think that’s because if you’re unwavering, you’re not adaptable. You’re not evolving.

Authenticity can be so alarmingly complex!

Here’s what I’m figuring out. We do change over time. I mean, even physically we change. Every day our cells are constantly changing. I’ve gone through periods where I’ve been thinner or thicker, or my hair has been longer or shorter. Those physical changes have an impact on me as a person.

How can we expect that we can make these physical changes along the way and not have emotional and mental changes as well?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, “Would someone please just tell me what to do, what to eat and when so I can lose some weight without feeling hungry every minute!” Or, could someone please just write out the plan for building a successful social media strategy? Or could someone give me the owner’s manual for parenting with specific instructions for raising a child? And while we’re at it, can someone give me the winning lottery numbers? 😊

The thing is, I want a script. Someone write the playbook will you? Of course, the problem is if I’m following a playbook written by someone else, am I being authentic?

For example, today I love drinking green tea. I read somewhere that it boosts your metabolism. I once read that black pepper boosts your metabolism too and, let me tell you, I was eating black pepper on everything!

I’ve never found one of these tricks to be effective at weight loss. Not once.

But I also read that the phytochemicals provided by green tea are important for good health. I’m  all for health boosting so now I drink green tea every damn day.

But what if I talk to you about how important it is to drink green tea today and then in a year I decide I no longer like green tea? Or what if I get some rare side effect from drinking green tea?

Would it be a green thumb? No, wait, that would actually be a good thing.

What I’m learning is that a lot of things are not easy to figure out. And as long as we keep trying, then we’re on the path, and that’s ok. In other words, we have to be ok with not getting it right as a pathway toward figuring things out eventually. Trying different ways of doing things can help you decide if this is what works for you or not.

Or maybe what I’m really trying to say is, everything is temporary. What we know today, may not be true tomorrow.

Marly Minute: Facing Your Fears Summary

So, the life lesson here? If I find a way to like/love myself and be more authentic with others, then receiving praise will be more like icing on the cake. Everything comes down to food!

Liking yourself is a process too. Here’s a few quick tips that I’ve found has worked for me in understanding and liking/loving myself:

  • Meditate. I know it seems like meditation is the answer to everything these days, but for me, meditation has been a way of better connecting with myself. If you can’t connect with yourself authentically, you cannot expect an authentic connection with others
  • Journal. I write in a journal almost every day. It helps me understand what I’m going through. It’s really more of a brain dump on a spiral notebook. Nothing fancy. But it works.
  • Walk. I believe a person needs to take walk every day. Well, don’t walk in the ice, that can be dangerous, but other than inclement weather, find a way to take a walk. And as much as I love listening to podcasts or my Spanish lessons or books or music, I need to take a walk where I’m present with my own thoughts.
  • Create. I learned this tip from Ayse Bersel when I interviewed her on the Chopped Podcast: Find a way to create something every day. Maybe you can draw a funny picture in your morning journal, or you can create a family dinner, or you can write a haiku and share it on Twitter. Whatever form of art you choose, creation is important. It opens you up to a more creative, playful side of yourself
  • Dance. When you feel too  down on yourself, one way of shutting off those negative thoughts is to put on some of your favorite music and dance. And if dancing is not an option (maybe you’re on your commute home or something), you can at least sing along and feel the music to your core!

These are my favorite tips for facing your fears and moving on toward become more authentic. I also love to read lots of books, and that has also helped me discover more about myself. I love combining bits and pieces from a few different books or blogs I’ve read. That feels really empowering!

So that’s it for today’s Marly Minute: Facing Your Fears. I guess that was a little more than a minute! I hope you enjoyed it and found some areas of connection.

Health + Happiness,

Marly

If you’ve faced a fear that you’ve had to overcome, or if you have tips for facing your fears, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below or send me a note, and let’s have a chat!

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