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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Face Your Fears and Empower Yourself

Eleanor Roosevelt understood fear when she said, "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." How true this is and this past weekend I faced two fears in one day and boy did I feel empowered! I skied down from the highest point on a hill where I cross country ski AND I made my first video to put up on youtube. By facing your fears you gain self confidence, empowerment and feel if you can overcome one fear -- the sky is the limit! H. Jackson Browne says, "Don't be afraid to go out on a limb, that's where the fruit is". I have found that fruit and how sweet it is!

I have always been a perfectionist. Being a perfectionist is a blessing and a curse. I now like to say I am a "recovering perfectionist" -- better to try something and learn from it than to never have tried! Yes, I strive to meet my goals and make sure I achieve them. I have a clean house, am a good cook, a decent dancer, am always educating myself and am usually in shape (gotta give me some allowance for the holidays -- oh, right it IS March isn't it?). ;-) But when I fear something -- BOY do I fear it! The thought of doing something badly does not sit well with me even though I teach my kids that everything takes practice. I am known to psych myself out of doing something if it is scary to me in any way. I also am known to not ask for help but instead be the helper for everyone else. So how do I conquer my fears?

It has been interesting cross country skiing in the same place for the last 4 years (the park near my house). It was an airport so it is VERY flat except for one hill that is great for sledding. When I first started skiing this hill looked ENORMOUS to me. I am not a downhill skier and my first and only experience downhill skiing was FAR less than perfect. ;-) (Okay here's the visual -- me falling down the mountain all the way from getting off of the chair lift -- wow did that hot tub afterward feel GOOD!) This past year I have overcome a lot of obstacles by healing myself and have found new strength. The first time I went out skiing this season I thought "that hill doesn't look so big anymore". I've gone down the more gradual part of the hill almost every time we've been out and it didn't seem scary. This past weekend the snow was perfect for skiing -- nice and packed down and slippery. There were three of us skiing (me, Angela and Jessica). When we went down the hill the first time I went down the gradual hill and it was FUN! Jessica chose the steep path and FLEW. We decided we wanted to do it again and I immediately started toward the gradual part which was my habit. I stood there contemplating the steep side of the hill and was VERY close to psyching myself out once again and saying "Ok gradual side -- here we go again". But I stopped myself and told myself "I am not afraid, what is the worst that can happen?, if I fall on my butt in the snow we'll all have a good laugh!" I went down the steep side and it was SUPER fast and I enjoyed it tremendously. I bet next year that won't even seem like a big hill to me.

My fear of seeing myself on video is much deeper. I don't ever remember watching a video of myself and not wanting to run from the room. I can't really explain it except that it has been with me as long as I can remember which made it a more difficult fear to ever imagine getting over. With all my blogging and with me wanting to be a life coach I KNEW I had to face this fear head on. My first attempt was a few weeks back when Simpleology had a contest and I said "This is IT -- I am going to enter". Well, after my first attempt which at playback had me wanting to run from the room again followed by my son saying, "you look SO MUCH better in person mommy" I was ready to put off conquering this fear for a WHILE longer!

It was then I decided I needed to watch other people who HAD done it and also ask for a little help (which as stated before -- is NOT a strong point). Once I decided I wanted to overcome this and stated it as an intention the resources came to me quickly! I am a big fan of Karen Lynch's at "Live the Power" who has recently started putting video of herself on her blog. I complimented on her excellent job and shared my fears and she sent me an email with excellent words of encouragement. I also just acquired a mentor, Karin Hiebert, who is wonderful on video and shares very similar personality traits as me. She gave me concrete advice on how to proceed and gave me an assignment to create a video response to one of her many videos. Okay -- now there was NO getting out of it. Rosa Park's wise words were perfect for this, "I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear". I KNEW I had to do it so now was the time to face one of my biggest fears.

I attempted to do the video in my dining room. The backdrop was perfect (one of my favorite paintings of sunflowers). But between my husband pumping up the kid's bike tires in the garage (a room away) and my kids running around and being their normal crazy kid selves -- I realized this was NOT the place. I took everything upstairs to my dressing/laundry room and set up shop. I took some deep breaths. I made sure I liked the backdrop. I talked out loud just once to the camera without taping to get in my head an approximation of what I wanted to get across. I took one last deep breath and decided "to let go of my fears" and to tell myself "whatever will be will be -- you can do this". This absolute calmness came over me right before I pressed record and it almost felt effortless. I KNEW I could and would do it. Afterward watching it -- I was okay. Did I think, "wow, what a cool confident woman, GREAT job?" Well... not exactly -- but I did not run from the room either. I was able to send it to Karin within a few hours of shooting it and put it up on you tube shortly after.

I got such a nice response from Karin, my family and friends that watched it and my son even said, "you look MUCH better that time mommy". Better yet, since then all these ideas have been coming to me of things I WANT to say on video. Will I stress out about it next time I make one? Probably a bit, but I know I CAN do it now. With practice I will get better and I know I will hear Karin's words of guidance as well as my own before making each video. Thank you Karin and Karen for your confidence in me and your encouragement -- it is GREATLY appreciated. I look forward to being a life coach and I believe making videos is a good tool for getting my messages out there as a coach -- that makes me even more motivated to continue.

Here it is.... my first attempt.... even a month ago I could not have imagined me posting a video of myself!

Go ahead, face your fears! It might turn out to be fun or you might not really care for whatever it is you attempt -- but if you don't try, how will you know? Marilyn Ferguson said, "Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom". How free I feel now that I have conquered these two fears and now I look forward to helping others face and overcome theirs as well! If you are interested in having me as your life coach/mentor please email me at jennymannion@yahoo.com or contact me on skype at jennifer.mannion. If you are interested in Karin as a mentor you can contact her through Skype at karin.hiebert or email her at karinhiebert@gmail.com.

I leave you with two other quotes on fear to contemplate:

Marcus Aurelius:
"If you are distressed by anything external,
the pain is not due to the thing itself,
but to your estimate of it;
and THIS you have the POWER to revoke at any moment

and Jane Addams:

"Our doubts are traitors
and make us lose the good we often might win,
by fearing to attempt


Karen said...

Excellent post Jenny!
I've always noticed that things don't seem quite so scary after you begin...it's the fretting beforehand that really gets you!

I think I expressed this before but I will again. You did an excellent job on your video!!

Karen-Live the Power

Jenny Mannion said...

Hi Karen, Your words and email meant a lot to me. You are doing wonderfully on video yourself and it helped me to watch how comfortable you were and hear what you did that relaxed you. Thank you for reaching out to me to help -- you definitely did and I am very grateful! Thanks for your compliment as well -- to hear people I respect deeply tell me I did excellent in front of a video camera is something I didn't even dare to dream about! ;-) Gratefully, Jenny

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