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These are two of my favourite quotes.

“He couldn’t stand being afraid. When he found something that scared him, he’d just do it ‘til the fear went away.”

The Bodyguard 1992

‘As they neared the gates, he saw a large guard dog with huge teeth and red eyes. It was growling ferociously and struggling to get free from the chain that held it…As he got closer, he could see its bluish tongue and spittle spraying from its mouth… Suddenly the chain broke and the dog rushed at them…He turned and ran as fast as he could – straight at the dog. The dog was so surprised that he put his tail between his legs and ran away.’

Pema Chodron When things Fall Apart 2005

These quotes give me hope about facing my own fears. They tell me that if I have the courage to face things I am afraid of a way forward will emerge. The dog running away also suggests that those whom we are frightened of have their own fears.

My experience of working with many people suggests that when we avoid people or situations it is because we are frightened of something – frightened of their emotional reaction and of our own response to it, frightened of getting it wrong and of being judged, frightened of delegating and losing control, frightened of switching off our blackberry in case we miss something.

What I think we do sometimes miss is thinking about the other person/people and what they may be frightened of. When we really look at others and consider their fears, our perception of a situation will shift and new strategies emerge.

So an exercise you can do just to see what happens.

  1. Identify what or who you are avoiding
  2. Understand what you may be frightened of and really describe it to yourself
  3. Understand what the other person/people may be frightened of and describe it to yourself
  4. Take a deep breath and notice what you feel.

e.g. 1

  1. You avoid talking to someone who may get angry.
  2. You may be frightened of getting it wrong, becoming emotional, entering into a conflict, feeling small, crying……….feel the fear.
  3. They may be frightened of being challenged, of being opposed, of looking inadequate, of not delivering, of relationships……….really dig deep to imagine what they may be frightened of.
  4. Take a deep breath and notice what you feel.

e.g.2

  1. You don’t want to lose control.
  2. You may be frightened of not delivering, not being promoted, being fired, doing wrong, being judged negatively, others doing better than you……….feel the fear.
  3. They may be frightened of your judgement of them, your lack of trust in them, disappointing you……….really dig deep to imagine what they may be frightened of.
  4. Take a deep breath and notice what you feel.