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Have you ever just gone for something? Like a child that runs to the pool on the first day of summer and jumps in wholeheartedly with a big splash, only to discover that the water is paralyzingly cold and everyone else is on the sidelines watching?
Let me tell you, that’s a feeling I’m very familiar with.
I’ve often asked myself how to handle that experience without becoming the person on the sidelines who is paralyzed, not by the cold water but by the fear of taking that leap.
Then, I found a tangible answer through the words and wisdom of Brené Brown. She transformed my life with her ideas about how to knock fear upside the head. On Mindfulness Monday, I’m excited to share my experience following her advice with all of you.
Here’s what she taught me: the two things that can block a person from going after what they really want are fear, and shame. The good news is, there’s a solution. It’s empathy.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Sometimes, the hardest person to share empathy with is yourself.
More than fear, I struggle with shame. Brown tells us that shame comes with only two narratives.
1.) You’re not good enough.
2.) Who do you think you are?
Those are narratives with a power to paralyze if we let them.
Everyone’s empathy rebuttal to fear and shame is going to look a little different. Mine looks like this…
First, I journal when I experience paralyzing fear, which I now recognize as my stress response to shame.
Second, I claim that fear, bringing it from darkness into the light where it doesn’t thrive.
Third, I share those feelings I have with someone I trust. These are people in my life who will not judge me or try to explain the fear away. They simply listen. During this time I make it a point to show empathy to myself, acknowledging the courage it took to go after something and be proud that I’m not sitting on the sidelines.
Finally, in times where the paralyzing fear really gets a grip on me, I turn back to my empathy journal. This is a place where I can write down three to four things I have done well that day. I make these journal entries right before I fall asleep, so it is the last thing on my mind before I lay the day to rest.
In short: Journal, claim, share, and journal some more.
As adults, we don’t have a parent tucking us in every night and reminding us how proud they are of us. Let’s be honest, some of us have never experienced that. But if we are going to move forward courageously, continue to put ourselves out there and take risks, we need get past fear and shame.
I can speak from experience: when we are willing to practice a little empathy toward ourselves, the results can be transformative to our souls, our relationships and the dreams we are reaching for.
We want to hear about your breakthroughs. Share with us in the comments below or on social media!