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How I Got Past Fear and How You Can Too!

by bevbarnes on October 8, 2013

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Are you freaked out about being on-line?

I was. I felt 7 years old every time I took a step. The picture above is me at that age in my school picture.

Scared.

I thought something was wrong with me.

I didn’t understand why it was so hard for me, why I was so anxious, fearful, overwhelmed by it all.

I was so afraid of what people would think of me. My worst fear was that they would think that I was self-involved, self-aggrandizing and that I had a lack of humility.

The video that is up on my site was ready months before I finally decided show it.

And then only because some close friends told me that it was “truly” me and represented who I was better than anything I could write.

I gulped, closed my eyes and hit enter.

And I lived to talk about it.

That’s what it’s been like for me every step of the way in working on line. Panic. Anxiety. Do it anyway. Live to tell about it.

I still thought something was wrong with me.

That I had abnormal fear, abnormal anxiety.

Until I uncovered my story and realized that my anxiety and fear were perfectly normal responses to the story that I had grown up believing.

Since I was a really young child, I’ve told myself that in order to be safe, I have to hide.

Hiding would protect me from criticism, from being attacked.

Our family arrived in Montreal, via England when I was seven. I was a Black child growing up in a white society in the early 70’s in a Montreal where multiculturalism was still a faraway dream – and only meant that you spoke English or French.

When I was a child, I’d never met anyone that was older than me, that was Black and born in Canada. Any person of colour was a recent immigrant from the Caribbean, had an accent, wore loud coloured clothing and wore a hat – even inside. Not me.

I learned to hide.

Black immigrant kids called me an Oreo – black on the outside, white on the inside. White kids compared their tans with “mine” each summer and that same old joke – “Oh I’m almost as tanned as you are.” Is that even funny?

I hid. Hiding protected me from criticism, from being exposed as different, from being treated differently.

As a teenager I accumulated evidence that hiding would even keep me alive.

We could sometimes pick up Boston radio late nights. I secretly listened in my bed as a teenager. I heard people talking about busing when Boston schools were desegregated. The racism was vile. I was terrified. Even though Boston was far away, I decided that I needed to protect myself and not make waves – stay undercover. Showing myself was dangerous.

It was an extremely effective strategy. If life was graded, I maintained about an 80 percent average in every aspect. That helped me to not get noticed and fly under the radar.

I did an excellent job of hiding, avoiding criticism and not being a target.

But when I started working on-line, the very capacity that allowed me to succeed in life was what was what would tank my business.

I had to do things that felt unnatural, that pushed me way out of my comfort zone.

I had to stop hiding.

All because I was called to do my life’s work – and working on-line was the only way for me to increase my potential client pool. I needed to get known. I need to get seen. I need to connect to the people that needed me.

(By the way, when the universe wants you to grow – watch out – there are no half measures.)

If you are anxious, fearful or panicky “coming out” on line my tricks might help you. It’s how I got past my anxiety and fear.

1. Notice and acknowledge your discomfort, fear or anxiety. Don’t try to run away from the feelings. Noticing your feelings will alert you that something is going on. My churning, almost debilitating anxiety was stirred up every time I was about to launch something on-line.

2. “Out” your story. Write down the story that you are telling yourself. You need to actually tell your story to someone or see it written out. Recognize how helpful that story has been to you – how it has protected you. Appreciate what that story has done for you and helped you to achieve.

3. Acknowledge that your old story is no longer useful. Acknowledge that your story is holding you back from your life’s work. Your “real” life story is the story of doing your life’s work in the world. That’s a love story. Your old story is likely driven by fear – and it’s time to give it up – even if that story was true. Drive your life with the force of love, not the force of fear.

4. Do tiny things that move you closer to your life’s work AND get support. When you feel exposed and vulnerable, keep moving forward and share with people who “get” you. You need people to reflect back to you – who can see the beauty in you that you don’t yet see. Join a group, get a coach, find and accept the support that you need.

5. Keep taking small steps. This WILL change if you keep going. I promise you. I don’t feel the debilitating anxiousness and the fear that I used to. I now get butterflies, manageable anxiety tinged with excitement, which dissipates really quickly as soon as I get going.

To move out of that fear keep taking tiny step after tiny step after tiny step.

Action is the antidote.

Support will keep you sane.

Your life’s work will keep driving you forward – even when you feel anxious.

And this too will pass.

I LOVE hearing from you. Let me know on the blog if you’ve had extreme fear going on-line, and what your solutions are.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

julene October 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Bev, I love your sharing a part of you with the world. BRAVE & STRONG!

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bevbarnes October 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Thanks Julene 🙂

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sandra October 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Thanks Bev for sharing. Love it. I’m feeling pressed today to spend much time commenting, but had to say how much your story spoke to me, a woman of color in the U.S., and adult in Boston during the 70’s. Always been a seeming “outsider” any way you name it. Still lots of anxiety, but a growing sense it’s all about pushing through the maize to my authentic self, which is beyond all the labels I’ve not fit in to!

Maybe more next time. It’s true, one always has to speak the truth in order to connect. Thanks again.

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bevbarnes October 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I love your comment Sandra. I so agree that your authentic self is beyond labels. It’s so nice to hear from someone who lived something similar.
xo

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Andrean October 10, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Thanks for sharing it was meaningful to me.
Peace and continued blessings Cuz.

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bevbarnes October 24, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Nice to hear from you Andrean!

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Janelle October 11, 2013 at 6:29 pm

You are amazing. Feel fear and do it anyway. I love that. Thank you for being you Bev and thank you for having the courage to be online. I know my life is so much better because of your shining light.

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bevbarnes October 24, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Right back atcha Janelle. You are courageous and brave too and my life is also better because of you. Thanks for your comments.

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Guylaine February 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Hi Bev,

You nailed it right on the head for me. I have this on-line vision that I’ve been holding for a year now and I’m terrified of taking that first step on-line. I’ve been proud of staying under the radar in terms of not being seen online. I brag about not being on facebook or online anywhere. In truth, I’m afraid of something bad happening to me or my family if I’m visibly out there. Not trusting that big world, those unknown people. Those predators, possibly… Perhaps having my identity stolen. A real trap. I believe the future is online. I see many many authors, life coaches, spiritually-minded business people being visibly online and they don’t seem to worry about being seen. Anyways, thanks for bringing this out into the open.

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Katie June 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm

“This too will pass”…thank you for this new mantra Bev…It gives me again this sense of peace while it pushes me to figure out the domain name-website-hosting-thing/fear as soon as possible ….and can say to myself “this too has passed, good girl!”.

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