I think it’s probably true to say that we all have aspects of our lives that cause us a lot of difficulty, situations, places or people that we’re afraid of, and wish that we could avoid.
Facing those situations and people can make us anxious, tense, stressed and vulnerable. It can be very daunting indeed to do so, and afterwards we can be left feeling drained, angry, tired, sad or helpless.
They might be some of the most difficult situations you’re facing right now, the ones that really have you at your wits end. It might be the situation that you think will never get better.
There’s a new way of seeing these situations so that you’re not fearful of them anymore.
I’ve discovered, through my own life practice, that its the stories I tell myself about such situations that cause the majority of the pain, upset and fear. I’ll give you an example:
I recently had a day at work that was extremely challenging. I was given a task to solve, one that nobody really wanted to pick up and run with. It was allocated to me by my line manager.
I was doubtful of my ability to solve the problem, but because of my ongoing inner training, I was able to stay calm, realising that I can only do the best I can do in any given moment, and that my best is good enough. If I can’t solve it, I can ask for help – there is no shame in admitting you can’t do something – right?
Throughout the day I had various challenging calls to make, and technical difficulties to face with trying to make progress towards solving this problem.
I felt like my line manager was prickly toward toward me all day. He seemed to be a little short fused, a bit unhelpful and a bit stern about the whole situation. I didn’t understand this at all – I was undertaking a task for the team that no-one else wanted to undertake, and here was my line manager, appearing to be a little off with me. It didn’t make sense to me at all, but different people think in different ways.
I was able to remain calm and turn this potentially fearful situation into a learning opportunity, by closely observing my thoughts and emotions, and not going into a story about what was happening in my mind.
My goal was to remain respectful to all others in the situation, to not start complaining in my head (which always results in fear) and to do my best in every moment to solve the problem.
My line manager continued to act a bit cold and prickly with me throughout the day. I found power in the situation by not interpreting that coldness as anything related to me. It was his. It is his style, and his behaviour. It belongs to him, and it’s nothing to do with me. I’m responsible only for the way I behave towards others, including my line manager.
By not judging anyone else’s behaviour as being wrong, I was able to remain true to myself, stay relatively calm and focused and learn from the situation. I was able to become more present in the situation and free myself from the need to please my line manager. I’m there to do the best I can with the skills I have available to me, not to be perfect.
This is one example from my own life about how to turn a fearful situation into a learning opportunity. By doing so, the fear dissipates, and we’re left with a stronger intensity in our own consciousness, our level of awareness and increased confidence to face such challenges in the future.
Key Steps for turning Fear into Power
Let’s break it down and list some of the key aspects of what it takes to find your power in difficult situations:
- Stay humble – don’t let your ego take over. Don’t lose yourself in stories such as “how could he/she do this to me” or “he/she is a jerk/bitch”. Staying humble means you’re willing for your own self-image to take a hit, to appear more vulnerable in front of others, and this ALWAYS PARADOXICALLY LEADS TO MORE POWER AND SELF-RESPECT FOR YOU. Try it and find out!
- Stay open – if you’re willing to be humble, now you can be open, without getting into conflict with others. Without a degree of humility, you’re likely to produce conflict when you attempt to communicate. With humility present, communicate what you need to to the other people involved in the situation. Say what needs to be said. Share key insights.
- Stay with the facts – don’t get into wild emotional interpretations of what is happening. Stay with facts. Describe things accurately and factually. e.g. “You left the fridge door open”, rather than “How could you leave the fridge door open?!” i.e. stay well clear of blame. Don’t play the blame game!
- Stay clear of complaining mentally to yourself. Complaining in your own head never helps to bring a productive outcome in any situation. It really does have no useful purpose and only makes you more resentful within. When action needs to be taken, take it. When something needs to be said, say it. But don’t complain about it mentally – it’s a total waste of time and energy and has a detrimental impact on your own well-being.
- Have Faith. Don’t try and predict the final outcome. This is about turning a fearful situation into a learning opportunity. By definition, when you learn something, it was previously unknown to you. So the object is to remain as present in the moment and therefore as resourceful as it’s possible for you to be, so that you can quickly learn the NEW skills and information you’re in the situation to learn. Have faith that if you do this, you will not be given more to deal with than you’re capable of. There IS a higher intelligence at work here, and it won’t give you more than you can handle, but you must be willing to stay humble and open to receive the respect and help you need from others to make your way through this difficulty.
I hope you find this helpful. I believe they’re a set of generic guidelines that can be applied in any situation to reduce your susceptibility to fear and give you more power to grow, develop and move on quickly.