When I was growing up, I learned about the adrenaline rush that comes with fear and the response of FIGHT or FLIGHT. I was told that when faced with fear we do one of two things--we either fight it or we run away from it.
In my work as a coach, though, I know that we have a third response to fear.
The freeze response is lesser known because it’s less obvious. In reality, though, it is often in the driver’s seat, going in the safe and comfortable direction--a direction we don’t really want to go. It’s the fear response that lurks in the shadows, when we don’t even realize we are afraid.
We think of it as reason.
The freeze comes forth when that little voice inside our head says, “Are you sure about this? I think it’s a bad idea. Here are all the reasons why...”
And you listen. You freeze.
When you fail to pick up the phone because it has already been too long.
When you fail to send an email to a new connection who could help you tremendously.
When you fail to speak your mind, despite the having something important to say.
When you fail to go to an event because you don’t know anyone there.
When you fail to say “yes” to an amazing opportunity.
When you fail to commit to something, anything, because what if it’s not right.
When you fail to reach toward your dreams because…..because….because.
For me, the freeze response is much more pervasive than the fight or flight response. The last big flight response I remember was when I totalled my brothers car and all I wanted to do was drive away. (The car didn’t cooperate, nor did the tree I had knocked over). I was 18.
But freeze...that’s almost a daily occurrence in my world, especially as an entrepreneur.
When I have an new thought, or a new strategy and my inner critic says, “Not yet. Not now” I know that fear is lurking close by.
In those moments, I must ask myself, “Am I avoiding this out of fear or laziness (also fear) or is there a more strategic reason? What am I really afraid of? How would I deal with it if my worst fear were realized?”
Once I ask those questions, I can make a more informed choice.
Since I am committed to being courageous, I can then kick fear out of the driver’s seat and put him in the back seat, or the trunk, where he belongs.
My reasons also get to hang out back there, as they tend to get in the way too.
I have said this before and I am going to say it again--Our reasons mask our fears. Chose to be unreasonable.
Now it’s your turn.