Fear is a paralyzing emotion. It can stop us from living our best life. Or living life at all. I travel extensively across this country speaking to children and what I have found universally is that fear plagues everyone from the very young to the very old.
From not asking the new kid to sit with you at lunch, to being too scared to try out for the school play to more adult problems like wanting to change careers or ask that mom you see at the playground if she wants to get a cup of coffee with you because you’re really kind of lonely and this whole mom things is a bazillion times harder than you thought it would be and goodness it would be easier if you could just make a friend who gets it. Totally not speaking from past experience on that last one.
The point is, fear stops us not just from living our best life, but I would argue, fear stops us from LIVING.
So what do we do, you ask? I’m so glad you asked! I’ve learned many things these past 7 years when I quit my job, worked for free for 6 months, made a bunch of mistakes and found out how to ignore my fears and live passionately, grandly and full of life.
Here’s my best advice on how to begin to live your best, fearless life – and these work for children and adults – so if you have a little one at home who has some anxiety issues, read these to them too.
- Make Mistakes. Know you are going to make mistakes. That’s okay, that’s literally the quickest way we learn. Accept it, and expect it. Then when it happens, it’s not so shocking and you can see what you did wrong and try again.
- Let the Real and Imaginary Haters Hate. Instead of worrying about what people will think of you, remember this: Everyone is so busy worrying about what other will think of them – they don’t actually have time to judge you. So go do your thing! No one is really sitting around waiting to judge you – that’s mostly in your head. Because there are those people who seem to like to judge and hate. When that happens? Ask yourself, do you really care about what they think? I mean, do you really have time in your life to let Judgy McJudgerson stop you from living your best life? No. No you do not! Go live!
- Get Yourself aWhatif Now, I really want you to try this, because it really, really works. Imagine your own personal Whatif Monster. Imagine up a cuddly, fuzzy, green (or purple or blue or orang) monster – whatever floats your boat. Now, imagine telling him every single bad worry and what if in your head. Give them all to him. He’ll take those worries away and then you can just keep all the good and wonderful what ifs instead. Choose Wonderful. Totally works. Try it.
- Serve Others.Help others. It’s amazing how brave we get when we decide to serve another. Suddenly we get outside our head and realize that life is really about being connected with others. Figure out how trying that new thing might help another. Maybe that mom you want to ask out for coffee is just as lonely as you. When you focus on how you can give, life gets a lot less fearful.
- Get Back Up.Bad things are going to happen. Things are not always going to work out. Accept that. When that happens? GET BACK UP. Try again. Ask for help. Email me for a pep talk. I’m here for you, and I promise so are others. Get back up.
- Be the Light.Always, always remember that when you shine your light, when you are brave enough to stand up and live your life the way YOU want to live? You give others permission to do that too. When you are brave, you will help others be brave too. Your light will light the path for others. It’s true.
I know nothing I’ve written hasn’t been said a million other times a million other ways, but maybe this time, the way I wrote, was the way you needed to hear it. I hope it is. You deserve to live your best life. Even on the hard, scary, mistake-filled days, you deserve to feel like you are truly living on this planet. You really do. Promise.
Michelle Nelson-Schmidt is an author, illustrator, public speaker, mother, sister, daughter, and wife. She loves dogs, the beach, and a really great Boston cream doughnut from time to time. But most of all she loves living life enthusiastically and exuberantly while making a whole lot of mistakes along the way.