Michele Attias Life Coach

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Simple Ways To Stop Fear Holding You Back

A few weeks ago, I attempted a task of gargantuan proportions.

It didn’t seem to be experienced in the same way by those surrounding me at that moment, yet to me it was huge.

I finally attempted to venture into a cable car heading up the rock of Gibraltar. A distance one and a half times higher than the Empire State building in New York.

The fear of cable cars has navigated alongside me through most of my adult years. Borne from watching a clip from the James Bond movie ‘Moonraker,’ where the character Jaws bites the lines of a cable car as it moved down its trajectory. Although I had watched the clip over twenty years ago, the scene had been lurking in my unconscious since.

As a result of this, when travelling, I had never dared to step foot onto a cable car. This had meant missed opportunities to observe the magnificent views that were on display when travelling around different continents.

Until that day, when I made a simple choice to conquer the fear.

It was a beautiful, clear sunny day and I had a longing to observe the views from the top of the rock. Frankly, I was tired of letting the fear get in the way of experiencing even more of what our wonderful planet has to offer.

As I queued up together with other keen tourists, most of them wearing camera straps around their necks eagerly awaiting their chance to take pictures to post on Instagram. Children stood in the queue sucking ice lollies in anticipation of the ride that awaited. Yet I stood firm as a statue, almost paralysed with fear, but worried that if I would begin to move my feet, I would use the opportunity to run out the door.

As I stood there, crumpled cable car ticket in hand (barely recognisable as a ticket at that point) I completely understood that fearful feelings emerge from fearful thinking, they are not created in a vacuum. I was aware that my thoughts were on overdrive and were powering my feelings, behaviour and actions.

This manifested externally in my heart beating at an accelerated rate, my palms were sweaty, already projecting my future self, hanging by a wire suspended in the air.

I sat with the fear, held hands with it and made it my friend. I completely surrendered to it.

I didn’t patiently wait until the anxiety and fear had gone away in order to attempt to do this (I had tried this for many years, and it didn’t work) or visit a phobia expert. I just understood that fear and anxiety would be joining me for the ride — literally.

As I watched the cable car glide down and the Ticketmaster wave his hand to welcome us in with a wide smile on his face, I knew that at least I would be in good company.

Not only was I taking a suitcase full of thoughts and feelings along for the ride, but now I was also standing alongside a cheerful Ticketmaster and a group of very excited passengers.

It was windy that day, which made my anxiety intensify, thoughts of a cable car rocking back and forth as it attempted its ascent was not pleasant. At that moment, the doors of the cable car closed firmly and I felt trapped, there was no way out and I would somehow have to find a way of managing myself in relation to the situation ahead.

I began to hear a creaking noise and began to feel a movement underneath my feet. My heart began to beat faster at a pace of marathon-like proportions. My eyes were turned away from the view outside. If only I could look at the floor instead, I told myself, then I could pretend I was somewhere else, anywhere but there.

It took a millisecond for me to choose a different option. To open my eyes and fully experience it — Hey if we’re going to overcome a fear we might as well go all the way.

As the cable car slowly rocked as it ascended due to the wind, my insides felt as if they were rocking too. I looked outside and down from the panoramic windows and was met with a picturesque view as it slowly elevated and the world became smaller, the houses barely visible, and then as I looked up, was met with the slow climb up the rock of Gibraltar.

Beauty is not even a word that would do it justice.

Throughout the ride up which was the longest five minutes of my life, I felt a barrage of emotions all being powered by my thought processes, a playlist which was stuck like a record player. Playing the same playlist of words again and again. “The wires will break, we will get stuck up the rock and won’t be able to get down, I won’t survive this, who will be there for my daughters…” On and on the thoughts magnified and powered my feelings.

Whilst I heard the thoughts, and I sincerely felt the feelings that emerged from these, I continued to be with the experience — fully immersed.

Making friends with your thoughts and feelings means that you don’t need to wait until they go away for you to attempt something that you fear. You just need to know that they will accompany you, and it will in most cases feel uncomfortable, but what’s a little discomfort once in a while.

It communicates that you are in unknown territory, with uncertainty thrown in the mix, not the best combination, granted.

The worry had been created through a James Bond movie watched years ago, which had permeated into my unconscious, I had somehow got stuck in a time warp and I just needed to revisit it and create a different story, outcome and ending.

And Jaws did not bite the wire and send us spiralling down. The cable car ascended gracefully and descended majestically later on that day. More importantly, I got rid of a fear that had plagued me for years. Simply by making a choice to face it. When I stepped down from the cable car, I felt alive, courageous and excited at conquering it.

My coaching clients often have this vision that once their anxiety, self-doubt, fear or worry goes away, then they will attempt public speaking, write a book, attempt a new relationship or even expand their business.

I have news for you.

It never goes away, you just learn to walk alongside it, skip along with it, even dance with it sometimes, just know that it will be by your side often, especially when you’re about to attempt the unthinkable.

People have this vision, especially about coaches, who have done a great job of making people think that they’re super successful, motivated each moment of the day, and living a life we could all dream of.

Not true.

Everyone struggles with overthinking, self-doubt and anxiety, it doesn’t matter how successful they look or act on the outside. No one is that perfect. Even Tony Robbins the ultimate coach, spends quite a chunk of time before he speaks at his events doing incantations and rituals so that he can show up in a great state of mind for his audience.

We are all a work in progress.

I was a Therapist for 12 years, a Clinical Supervisor for 7 years and a Life Coach for 5 years, yet I also have my moments.

But the great thing is that as a therapist, I used to try to psychoanalyse my fears, go back to the past to figure out where they started and try to find the magic button which would make it stop — this was a none starter. As a coach, I have a different system, I know they are there, I’m aware of it, I give it a platform but don’t take them seriously.

If you could walk alongside one of your fears, which one would it be?

What impact would it have on your life if you stepped into the fear and took the action regardless?

I was speaking at an event a while ago, and one of the men in the audience stood up and asked what I could recommend he should do to ‘get rid of’ his fear and self-doubt. He wanted to write a book but just couldn’t get started. He was looking for tips and strategies, perhaps even affirmations I could recommend he utter each morning.

You know the type, “I am fearless, I have everything I need already, I am loving writing the book, I am confident and powerful.”

As he stood in anticipation of my response, pen and paper ready to write down a list of things I would recommend for him to do.
I turned towards him and said;
“How about owning the fear, not getting rid of it, but knowing that it will accompany you for the ride.”

Certainly not what he expected to hear, yet he breathed a sigh of relief. There was nothing he needed to do, no methodology he needed to learn, and no strategies he needed to implement. All which can take as much work as a full-time job.

Imagine if you didn’t have to be scared of feelings?

If you knew that it was purely a way to inform you that you were leaving your comfort zone. It yearns to pull you back to safety, but you need to keep moving and not stop.

I can totally relate to this.

I just published my new book, and previous to this time, I remember going to workshops, online programmes and hiring coaches which would help me get started on writing my book. Nothing worked. I waited for the fear, self-doubt and worry to leave before I got started, but it didn’t work either.

The only thing that worked was waking one morning with an intense desire to impact others, and frankly, publishing weekly articles on online platforms wasn’t cutting the mustard.

I visualised my friends, family and clients holding my book and keeping it in their bag whilst they travelled, reading a chapter whilst they were on the move. I felt a measure of excitement, mixed with desire as I wanted to create a ‘transform on the go’ book.

I was excited, yet fear, anxiety and self-doubt tried to interrupt my party, like unwanted guests.

But like you do with relatives you somehow have to tolerate, I let them in but didn’t entertain them, I just knew they were the annoying guests I was lumbered with, but they weren’t going to stop me doing what I wanted.

The journey through publishing my book, which took around six months, was an intensely anxiety-provoking time. It brought all the elements that I’m deeply uncomfortable with . Releasing a book with no real assurance of who would buy it, exposing my writing out into the world, opening myself up to criticism and judgement. Having to promote the book and me on social media, and the biggest whopper was finally taking my book to my hometown Gibraltar for the promotion.

Appearing in television shows and newspapers as a way of publicising my book watched eagerly by childhood friends, family, and all those people who knew me back then. In the days when I was not particularly known for my academic prowess and was more comfortable in a dance class and appearing on catwalk modelling events, then buried deeply in study books. Now publishing a book and being a successful coach.

Facing my past at all levels was healing, and brought all the elements of fear out into the forefront to be conquered.

But just as I had done in the cable car in Gibraltar, I faced it head on — kicking and screaming inside, but faced it. To have done what I had done before, which was becoming paralysed by my fears, would have kept me small, insignificant and frustrated that I could have become more, I could have done more but didn’t.

Exposing my greatness gives others permission to expose theirs too. It inspires others to go where they would never have dared to. It simply requires you choose to step out of your past story and create a new one. A story where you become a warrior, not a worrier.

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