Fear + Curiosity + Action = Authenticity

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

Fear. That tingly feeling on your spine that stands the hair on the back of your neck straight up. Curiosity. That thing that killed the cat (and also got him that extra bite of food his owners hid behind door #2). Action. That motion which is not allowed in laziness. Authenticity. What’s possible when you break down F with C and add A?

Fear.

We all know the feeling of fear. Sometimes it’s right out there in the open as we walk late at night and hear footsteps close behind, while other times it sits calmly and quietly beneath the skin, ever the chameleon in its masks of power, of expertise, of anger, of good sense, of making “good and sound” decisions. There are fears of heights, which keep us from getting too close to the edge for fear of falling over; fears of failing, which keep us from embarrassing ourselves in failure (or do they keep us from succeeding by simply not trying?); fears of getting burned, which keep us from getting too close to the fire (but what if we were to wear gloves, or approach with a fire hose?); fears of [insert internal fear which keeps you from _____].

Fear is all around us. Some fears are productive. After all, we needn’t fall off a cliff or burn in an open flame or walk alone down a dark alley at night for no good reason. These are survival fears. Fears that protect us from actually losing our lives. But what of the other fears? The fears of failure? The fears of success? The fears of appearing one way when we know the truth is another way? These are the fears we need to be more curious about. These are the fears we need to dig into. Just as curiosity killed the cat, curiosity will kill the fear.

Curiosity.

Remember when you were a kid and it was okay to ask questions? When you didn’t feel stupid because you didn’t know the answer? In my third grade classroom we had an anagram posted above the chalk board: KIP. Knowledge Is Power. This poster was designed to empower us to be curious and to ask questions. The idea in third grade was to ask others for knowledge that we didn’t have. The idea now, with your fears, is to ask yourself, to go within and search for the answers you hold (hide) inside—to simply go inside yourself and see what’s there. If knowledge is power, then curiosity is the platform on which knowledge is kept afloat. And the only way to keep up on your self-knowledge is to be curious about your self, to be curious about your fears. Curiosity isn’t about judgment, it’s simply about fact finding. You’re looking for answers—truths—not analysis of right or wrong, good or bad, just what is.

Curiosity breeds answers. When you’re curious about your fears instead of simply acting on them, you’re armed with the information that leads you to better decisions. If you’ve been offered a new position at work, but you’re not sure if you should take it because, frankly, it’s a lot of responsibility, and what if you can’t handle it all? then it’s time to get curious about that fear. What makes you think you can’t handle the responsibility? Are there tools or resources around you that you can use to shoulder some of your new responsibilities? Is your fear really about the responsibility, at all? What’s really behind this fear in taking the new position? What limiting beliefs are surrounding your fears? And maybe each answer breeds a new question. You’ll know when you have something real and not some bullshit line you tell yourself to keep things simple.

And once you have what is, then you can move forward. Because as much power as curiosity-bred knowledge holds, it’s nothing without action.

Action.

You’ve asked yourself umpteen questions and been able to give yourself the honest answers to see what your fear is really about. now you know. And knowledge is power. So now what do you do with that knowledge? Do you pat yourself on the back and celebrate your new-found self-awareness? Sure. But don’t stop there. Keep moving. Keep moving forward. Forward movement is action. Take your knowledge and apply it to your movement forward. You now know that this job is really out of your area of expertise and not really what you want to do with yourself, so don’t take the job because you know you’ll be unhappy. Or now you know that your fear isn’t based in reality, but on a limiting belief you’ve held for too many years that you’re just not smart enough to handle that kind of responsibility. So you acknowledge the fear and break it down until it doesn’t exist anymore because you know like you know like you know that you have exactly what it takes to handle everything this new job requires. Whatever thruths you found in your curiosity, use them in your action forward. If you’ve learned that your fear of sounding stupid in front of others stems from [other person’s lame excuse to project their own fears upon you], then take action that will allow you to let go of that limiting belief. If you’ve learned that your fear of holding too much responsibility stems from the fact that you’ve never handled such responsibility before, then ask yourself, “What’s the right next move for me?” and then listen.

Listening to yourself is sometimes an action we don’t do, or at least not very well. We wait for an answer for a minute or two, and when one doesn’t arise, we scream aloud (inside our heads), I just don’t know! This is stupid and I don’t know what to do!! when really all you need to do is wait. Ask. Listen. Wait (and keep listening). Sit with the silence when you ask what’s next? and nothing comes. Something will always come to you, given ample wait-and-listen time. And when you have your answers, they will be real. Why? Because they came from you.

Authenticity.

Fear. This is you. Fear is something you feel, whether you like it or not. Curiosity. This is you. You are naturally curious, even if that part of you has been stifled for a while. Reconnect with that curious nature, and you’ll get to the bottom of your fears, and be able to decide what to do next. Action. The best encyclopedias in the world are useless if they remain unopened. And so are you. Open yourself up, and use what you see inside to make your life what you want it to be, and not some shell of what everyone around you thinks it should be. Authenticity. You. The core of you, which is always there whether you let her shine or not. Fear attempts to protect that core. Curiosity unravels the fear, and begs to know if it’s real and valid or just taking up space. Action moves you forward and is the growth, the true power in upholding the knowledge you have of yourself, your self. And authenticity, well that’s just what naturally comes out of the process. Just like 1 + 1 + 1 naturally = 3, F + C + A naturally = Authenticity.

Don’t believe me? Give it a try.

Child Play photo, courtesy: Photos8: http://www.flickr.com/photos/publicdomainphotos/ / CC BY 2.0

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