“It feels like I’m in a glass bubble,” he said.
“I’m making a good salary and I enjoy my work…but I’m not happy”.
“I feel like I’m capable of so much more!”
Rob was a senior manager in an international high-tech firm.
“I don’t know what that means or how to begin moving in that direction, but I feel stuck, and every time I start thinking about what else could really be possible for me, a tremendous wave of fear takes over me.”
“So what about the glass bubble?” I asked him
“I know I have an entrepreneurial spirit David. I know there is something inside me that’s waiting to create something that could make a real difference in the world; I really feel that.
But I don’t even know how to begin exploring it, plus, I’ve got a family depending on me and, the truth is, maybe it’s just irresponsible – or even selfish – of me to be thinking of shaking things up at all!
That’s the glass bubble: I feel safe and secure on the one hand, but I’m afraid if I make a move, it could all just shatter to pieces.”
As Rob continued to share the challenge he was experiencing, I could hear how much fear was at the center of his story.
The Gift of Fear
In his book The Gift of Fear Gavin De Becker writes about how our natural fear instinct guides us to safety, often, even if we aren’t consciously aware that we’re in any any danger at all.
It’s kind of like our own built-in autopilot.
What’s interesting though is that fear is processed by a very primitive part of the brain that isn’t capable of logic or reason. It’s only real decision is – life or death? Fight or flight?
So if that’s true, then why does fear show up even when we aren’t facing a life or death situation?
Why does a significant growth opportunity, like introducing yourself to a woman at the bar, approaching your boss for a raise, or venturing out to begin your entrepreneurial journey often bring up the same emotional experience you might have if we were staring down the barrel of a gun?
The curse of safety
The idea of “safety” is a two-edged sword. On the one side, when face-to-face with a sabre-toothed tiger and your back is against a wall, “safety” is, without a doubt, the preferred option.
But when facing your dreams, your unexpressed potential and the power for change that you know you in your soul you’re capable of creating in the world – when the choice is between upping your game or “pushing through” and living an unfulfilled life, that’s when “safety” can become a curse.
That’s because, while our “animal brain” is conditioned to keep us “safe,” it can’t tell the difference between a real life-threatening situation, like a tiger in an alley, and going outside of your comfort zone – which can be dangerous for your ego – like when asking a girl out or asking for a raise.
Our physical response to both real danger and simply uncomfortable situations are often the same: heart pounding, sweaty palms, heavy breathing…and an instinct to run!
Killing your ego to save your soul
For the butterfly to be born, the caterpillar must die.
There is no going back. It’s all-in or nothing at all.
If there is a dream burning inside of you; if you have a passion for change, for stepping away from the daily grind of your current situation and for bringing something new into the world, then something will need to change in order for that dream to come to life…
That something is YOU.
In order to bring your dreams, your power and your passion into the world, you’re going to need a new set of tools.
You’ll need a new a new identity.
You’ll need new confidence, a new relationship to risk and you’ll need to re-align your relationship to fear.
To break out of the glass bubble, you’ll need to step into the most powerful version of yourself.
But what does the most powerful version of you look like? How does he speak? How does he carry himself in public? What does he wear? Eat?
How do you become that person?
Well it starts with making some big life changes, like building more confidence, letting go of familiar patterns of behavior and stepping out of your comfort zone.
But stepping out of your comfort zone is like death to your ego.
And what does the brain do when it senses you (or your ego!) are in danger?
In order to protect you, it creates a whole lot of fear!
So if you’re tired of living inside of a glass bubble – if you’re ready to begin exploring what might really be possible for you in life, you’ll need to create a new relationship…with fear.
When fear becomes your best friend
Your ego is the part of you that’s afraid to fail. It’s afraid to be embarrassed and hates to make mistakes.
Your ego wants you to be safe, and to stay inside your comfort zone….forever!
But greatness is never created from the safety of the comfort zone.
So the next time you start dreaming of all that you know is possible for you, and immediately after you’re gripped by a terrible, paralyzing fear, do the following exercise:
- Look over your shoulder and scan for any threat of real physical danger.
- In absence of any real physical danger, lean directly into the fear! (ie. do exactly what you’re afraid of doing)
- Then ask the question: “What is one action I can take right now to bring me one step closer to this goal/dream?”
And remember, when the fear you’re experiencing is not connected to impending physical danger… then it’s showing you exactly the direction you need to be heading in order to grow.
David Bederman is a coach who helps creative men and women find fulfillment, create more confidence and more success in their lives and businesses. He’s the author of the book, The Secret Sauce of Success and he brings a unique blend of life-wisdom, a deep understanding of human achievement and a grounding in ancient, spiritual wisdom to his work. In a past life, David struggled with drug abuse and near suicide, lived on a sailboat, traveled the world as a SCUBA instructor and trained with a master Kabbalist in the Old City of Jerusalem. He publishes weekly insights for empowered living on his blog and lives with his wife and four children in the Israeli countryside. You can connect with David directly via his website and subscribe to his weekly newsletter here.