Feeling the Fear and Acting Anyway

Aim, fire and become ready and you are sure to hit the target. Hmm, isn’t that backwards? Not so. Whether it’s “Ready, aim, fire” or the sardonic version, “Ready, fire, aim,” we have always learned that in order to take a given action, the first step is to be ready.

In my experience, counseling others as well as on my own self-journey, I have found that we quite often take an action first and then later discover that, over time, we THEN become ready.  I often reflect upon the various fears that have motivated my clients and others in my life to come to me for counsel: fear of entering into marriage, exiting a difficult marriage, having children and freeing or encouraging one’s adult children to leave the nest, starting a new business, leaving a current job, my own fear of flying in turbulence, and so on. Fear of taking an action in setting a new course in life is often sufficiently intimidating to freeze one from actually taking an action; and thereby leaving one in a decision by indecision situation.

I was in a seminar called the Landmark Forum years ago and remember the leader saying, “Can you feel the fear and act anyway?”  It was there in the Landmark Forum in 2004 that I faced my own fear of marriage. I loved my boyfriend (now husband of 11 years) and knew I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life and yet, for various reasons, was afraid to step into the commitment of marriage. In effect, I was waiting to overcome my fear of marriage before allowing myself to  make the commitment of marriage. Long story short, I felt the fear, grabbed the hand of courage and accepted the commitment of marriage. As I now reflect back, my fear of marriage seemed to vanish after I proactively moved forward with the process of engagement and marriage.

Working recently with a mother petrified of setting boundaries with her adult child, I reminded her that “feelings are not facts” and that she could sit with her feelings as difficult as they may be and that she would not die from feeling her feelings. We often feel that we are going to perish from feeling our feelings. I assure you no one has kicked the bucket in my office from “sitting with” their fears.

Perhaps you have wanted to take an action for a while —vis-à-vis relationships, work, family, friends—but are waiting to overcome your fear BEFORE acting. Consider that you could TAKE the action, FEEL the feelings and STEP into new and unchartered territory. Then you look back and DISCOVER that in the process you became ready, maybe without even realizing it.


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