Everyone, regardless of gender, fears something. And fear is completely normal. It's a powerful and primitive human emotion that helps protect us from danger. But while our ancestors feared such things as being eaten by large and ferocious animals, people today have fears that are more about internal issues rather than external dangers.
In my coaching sessions with clients and during my Soul Blazing workshops, I work with many women who are trying to overcome some sort of fear. Following are the three most common fears I see in my female clients, as well as useful strategies to overcome them.
- The Fear of Not Being Liked
- The Fear of Sacrificing Family Time for Work
- Fear of a Relationship Ending
This fear stems from how we're socialized as girls. The games little girls play often stress cooperation and connectedness, not competition. Girls play "house," while boys play "war." There's no "winner" in "house" or "princess tea party." As a result, girls develop a desire to be liked more so than to win.
Realize, though, that it's more important to like yourself rather than to focus on whether others like you. In fact, if you know yourself and like yourself, you'll find that it doesn't matter who else likes you. Additionally, you're never going to please everyone. Even the greatest people in the world, like Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa, have had critics. Having someone not like you is simply part of life.
The question, then, is, "How do you start liking yourself?" Here's a suggestion: Identify someone you really like or admire. It could be a friend, a relative or a celebrity you've never met. Look at what you view as a strength in that person. When you like someone, it's often a projection of yourself. Therefore, chances are that same strength is something you display or something you're hiding and that you want to display.
For example, many women admire Madonna, not necessarily because of her singing or acting career, but because she overcame the shackles of growing up in a strict household and had the courage to be herself no matter what others thought. So find the commonality you share with someone, as that will help you find the traits you like about yourself.
Many women today constantly ask themselves, "Are my career and children in conflict with one another?" Women now dominate the workplace, and at the same time they want their children to flourish. That tension creates guilt and doubt. Women wonder, "Is my success at work torpedoing my children's development?"
The key to overcoming this fear is to stop multitasking and to focus on the present. In other words, when you're with your children, really be with them. Make it quality time and connect at a deeper level. Turn off the cell phone, computer and television so that you can devote all your attention to your children, even if it's just for a short time before bed. Read to your child, go on great adventures together, and always tell them how much you love them. Do whatever you can to build memories with them.
If you're going away on a business trip, make a calendar, and for the two weeks leading up to the trip, mark off the days together. This will help young children understand how days begin and end so that your time away won't seem so long. Older children will experience less anxiety while you're away because they'll have had adequate preparation for the separation. Then, while you're away, set a time each day to do video conference calls with your children.
If you don't travel but must work long hours, having a daily video conference with your children is a great way to build connection during the day. Ultimately, the more love and connection children feel, the better they can handle being separated from you for long periods of time.
All women wonder, "Will my relationship last?" Women long for commitment, because commitment leads to emotional fulfillment. Women want deep bonds and yearn for forever. As a result, women worry, "Is my partner satisfied? Am I enough? Are we the couple I think we are?" Women want Mr. Right, not Mr. Right Now. So they wonder whether they've found the partner they can love for a lifetime.
The fear of a relationship ending is really the fear of abandonment, of not being good enough, and of being betrayed. Female celebrities, in particular, fear being betrayed. After all, they share secrets, photos and many intimate details with their partners. If they break up, the other party could use the information he knows about the woman to ruin her reputation. Additionally, there's an unsaid rule in our society that as a woman you're nothing unless you have a man by your side. That's a big hurdle to overcome.
In order to rise above this fear, you need to be confident and comfortable in the moment and with yourself. In a way, it goes back to the first fear about being liked. When you have confidence and a sense of "what I have and who I am are good," those inner feelings project outward and contribute to a better relationship.
Equally important is to stop worrying about the future. You can't put that kind of pressure on yourself. The present is all that matters. Stay grounded in today rather than wrapped in worry about tomorrow and you'll do better in all areas of life.
Finally, realize that sometimes a relationship is meant to be a journey. When it's over, it's over, and so be it. So while you definitely should commit to your partner, if you come to an impasse where it's not working and both parties are miserable, don't feel that you're obligated to stay in the relationship. Instead, think of the positives you've gained from the relationship, the lessons you've learned, and the person you've become. Cherish the good moments, but have the commitment to yourself and inner confidence to move on when it's time.
Banish the Fears for Good
We always bring into our life the lessons we need to learn. And in each of these fears, there are likely life lessons hiding inside that, once learned, will ease your fears and your daily stress. When you take the steps to address your inner fears, you grow spiritually and become a better person -- a fearless, strong woman capable of anything your heart desires.