Stop Being A Midlife Wallflower! Four Ways to Face Your Fears Today

I was listening to a podcast recently; the host encouraged everyone to find their movement. Find something that you are willing to get loud about, willing to stick your neck out about, a movement that is so profound in your life that you are ready to face your fears to be an advocate for the people who need your voice. I realized at that moment that I wanted to speak out for women in midlife just like me, who feel that society, their families, and their co-workers are trying to keep them silent.

Yes, its 2019, and women are more vocal about what they want, and many are not afraid to get it, but for some of us, aging has forced us to slink back into the background of our lives. Guess what, losing that 10 or 20 extra pounds will not give you the lasting self-confidence boost you seek. That is just the icing on the cake. The real work happens much deeper than the soft roll around your middle.

While most of us are not facing the same threats our ancestors did, we still face risks in our day-to-day lives that cause us stress. What are we so afraid of currently in our lives? Quite a lot, as it turns out.

We have become midlife wallflowers who still dream of accomplishing big things in our lives but are afraid that what we have to say will not matter to anyone except us.

It doesn’t help that we are questioning our identity and trying to find a way to fit into the lives we have created when everything in our psyche is crying out for something more. We are trying to create a new level of self-confidence to get us through each day, while facing our mortality, and having to deal with the patronizing comments from millennials in our office who are surprised that we are up on the latest apps or social media outlets. Yes, Ryan, I have a Snapchat account.

Let me tell you something sister to sister; it is time for us to face our fears once and for all. As a proud and lifelong introvert, I faced my fear the moment I decided to write this blog, record my podcast, and publish videos online for the whole world to see. I had the audacity to speak my opinion and gently push other midlife women to do the same. Who was I to study for a new career at my age?  Someone, a former close friend, told me that my ship had sailed and that I should be thinking of retirement and scheduling more time with my grandsons? I love them dearly. But there are some things that nana must do, and I am sure that they will love and respect me even more, when they see the results. Ladies, it’s time to put our fears into perspective.

Facing our fears doesn’t have to be scary. Luckily, you have within you the power to overcome your fears and embrace the happiness you deserve, right here, right now.

But how you may ask? Let’s look.

When we were children and feared that something was lurking under the bed, our parents would shine a light into the darkness. Once they did, it revealed the truth – there were no monsters. Once we shine the light of truth on what scares us, we often discover our fears to be unfounded.

So, let’s shine a light of truth on some beliefs that may be holding you hostage to your fears.

It’s human nature to worry. But did you know that research has determined that 85% of what you worry about never actually happens?  Let that sink in for a moment – most of your fears never come true.

But wait! That still leaves 15% of the time when things don’t work out! You are right, AND that same research reveals that, when misfortune did occur, people found they usually handled the situation better than expected. Not only that, they learned something valuable from their ‘ trouble,’ often even feeling as though the fear was worse than the actual situation.

Let’s take a moment to recap: we all experience fear, most of our fears will never materialize, and, if they do, chances are it won’t be as bad as we imagine. We will handle it better while learning something useful along the way. Sounds like a win-win proposition, doesn’t it?

Four Ways To Ditch The Wallflower Mentality and Overcome Your Fears

Being fearless is not about the absence of fear. Being courageous is facing the things in life that scare you, despite the sweaty palms and racing heartbeat. Being fearless is realizing that what you want is more important than any fear you have of achieving it.  But being fearless does not need to involve life or death situations. Fearless is falling in love again after being brokenhearted. Fearless is leaving a successful career for an uncertain opportunity. Fearless is standing by someone who’s disappointed you in the past. Fearless is falling and getting back up again (and again).

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every minute of my life—and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” Georgia O’Keeffe

Ready to get started on the path to a more fearless you? Then check out these tips to give you the upper hand in facing off against your fears:

1. Own your fear. Psychologist Carl Jung said, “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.” So, it goes with fear, as well; resisting fear expands it. Fearlessness comes from embracing your vulnerability, not by avoiding it. Say your fear out loud, write it in your journal, put it on a vision board.  Then write down three ways that you are going to conquer it, there is something powerful about saying what scares us out loud.  It immediately redistributes the power.  Reducing the hold, the fear has over us and giving us more power to push forward. Isn’t it time you stopped running and faced your imaginary monsters?

2. Reshape your fear. You are smart, and that can be a problem. Are you a habitual ‘catastrophizer,’ always assuming the worst will happen?  I myself was once a glass half-empty kind of girl.  Having an active imagination can fuel our concerns instead of suppressing them. Our brains often overestimate our fears while underestimating our ability to manage them. The next time you’re feeling afraid, instead of imagining the worst outcome, ask yourself what’s the BEST thing that can happen, and use your imagination to explore that scenario.

3. Take a risk. Playing it safe often feels like a low-risk proposition, but what if the opposite is true? What if playing it safe is a high-risk approach? When asked what they regret most, people on their deathbeds usually lament the risks they never took, not the ones they tackled.

4. Build your courage muscle. If you have ever started a new exercise habit, you know that building muscle requires starting slow and working your way up. Developing courage is like building a muscle. Show up, start slow, practice your form, and do the repetitions. Your fearless ‘muscles’ may be sore at first. Still, once fearlessness becomes a habit for ‘the small stuff’ you encounter, taking more courageous steps for the more significant challenges becomes easier too. You do not need to climb Mt. Everest to conquer your fear of heights. But facing your fears head-on is the sure way of overcoming what’s holding you back.

When it comes right down to it, we may not be able to control the good or bad things that happen to us, but we do have control over two critical things; our mindset and our responses to our circumstances.  Think of a fear you are facing (or avoiding) right now. Ask yourself, what would your life look like if you decided to face that fear? What would it feel like if you showed courage – even a little bit? The courage to take a risk. The courage to be your true self. The courage to love others. The courage to love yourself.

When you decide to take the initiative to confront your fears, you will discover that the universe is in your corner. Will it be easy? No. Will you face obstacles? Yes. Will you make mistakes? Yes.  But remember, your dreams are not meant to collect dust on a shelf or, more heartbreakingly, to take with you to your grave.

Do not be a midlife wallflower.  It is time to join the party.  The good news is you have what it takes to break through your fears right inside of you. You are courageous, creative, and the bearer of much goodness. Sometimes when we dare to dream great dreams; we must do it afraid. Just remember, regardless of your age, you are never too old to accomplish something new.  I am right here cheering you on and if you need it giving you a loving kick in the rump.

Talk soon,

Renee

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