Fear

How I Will Be Making My New Year Resolutions of Love

If both Hanukkah and Christmas commemorate moments where we remember that God intervened in our lives-- be it by keeping a single-day of oil burning for eight days as the Jews rededicated their temple or impregnating a young woman to give birth to a baby who was to show the world what love looked like in action--then the approach of New Years should naturally stem from the awareness that God is among us.  December reminds us that our lives are more than just ours.  We go into January knowing that there is something bigger at play.

I want my New Year to be birthed from a really divine place.  I want my hopes to feel magical.  I want my dreams to feel in alignment with my work in this world.  I want my resolutions to change more in this world than a few pounds off my body. I want my goals to not just feel like an obligatory to-do list or a re-hash of last years failed attempts.

Whatever belief system you have in place and whatever word you use for that which is bigger than us-- I hope you'll take the time to bring the true spirit of Hanukkah and Christmas into your New Year.

Who We Want to Be In 2013

Jim Wallis, the president and CEO of Sojourners and author of forthcoming book, On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good, sent out a newsletter this morning that speaks to this point.  He spent the first part of 2012 researching and writing this book about the common good and how we seem to have lost this concept in our politics and our society.

He says, "What I learned in the course of writing was how ancient the concept of the common good really is. This quote dates back to the fourth century:

This is the rule of most perfect Christianity, its most exact definition, its highest point, namely, the seeking of the common good … for nothing can so make a person an imitator of Christ as caring for neighbors."

—John Chrysostom (ca. 347–407)

My roots are in Christianity, but yours doesn't need to be in order for that quote to still matter. In fact, some of the most beautiful "imitators of Christ" are the atheists, agnostics, other-religious, and non-religious people I know.

For no matter the religion we do or don't subscribe to, what most of us still quote would be what we call the Golden Rule:

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

In other words: work toward the common good.  Care about those around you. Love.

Setting Our New Year Intentions

So as I sit with that this morning, I want the seeds of my New Years resolutions to come from that place of the common good.  Therefore the question I need to be asking myself isn't only "How can I improve my life this year?" but also, "How can improving my life this year serve more people?"

Some of the questions I'm asking myself:

  • Am I as loving as I want to be?
  • Am I acting with as much courage as I am meant to have?
  • Am I becoming a more generous person each year?
  • Am I growing in my own self-awareness so that I am taking more responsibility for my triggers, my responses, and my defensiveness?
  • Am I living more often from a place of  joy?
  • Am I growing in my compassion and empathy for those around me?
  • Am I seeing emotional growth in my life that excites me?

For many of those questions, I find myself pausing, unsure if I can unequivocally say yes.  When I notice that pause, I am then asking, "What could I do in 2013 to become this more loving, courageous, and centered person that I want to be?"

Doesn't that feel so much more significant than beating ourselves up about our body weight, our spending habits, or any other number of actions that produce our immediate guilt?  And don't we think that by focusing truly on who we want to become--people with more joy, peace, patience, and courage--that we'll find our other habits changing to align with what is now more true for ourselves? I think so.

So rather than encouraging you to add "Make 3 new friends this year" or "Call one long-distance friend each week" to your New Year's list; I'm instead inviting you to start from a deep and quiet place to ask yourself: "What quality can I grow that will help me love others better?" Who do you want to be? How do you want to expand?

Then whisper a prayer that expands that in you: "I'm willing to become a more loving, forgiving, generous, kind, centered, hopeful, and patient person."

Choose to be one more person in this world who cares about the common good, who doesn't vote only on self-interest, and who chooses to live from love instead of fear.  And from that place of wanting to grow into a more loving person, trust that your love will pull more people in to give it back to you.

Your love will not produce an empty vacuum, but rather will create a circle of love surrounding you with more meaningful relationships, life purpose, and consequential joy. For love begets love. Love drives out fear.  Love invites greater love.  Love changes us.  Love changes the world.

And that is what I call the greater good. Happy New Year!

 

 

I Just Want to Fit In! The Insecurities of Not Belonging.

One of the hardest parts of life is feeling the fear of not fitting in, whatever that means. As a kid I wished I could afford the ever-cool Guess jeans and Ked shoes instead of the $14.99 Jordache's and Payless Shoe Store wanna-be's that my mom bought. Later, my idea of fitting in would include wishing I'd start my period, need a bra, and kiss my first boyfriend when it seemed everyone else had already passed into the land of adulthood before me.

I can laugh now at the silliness that seemed so important at the time. It also causes me pause to consider what my Keds are now-- what feels important now but might look silly to me down the road?

Now I have been gifted with the maturity to realize that my value doesn't fluctuate on how others view me and that "in" means a thousand different things to different people.  But to know I don't need to fit in everywhere doesn't mean I still don't want to. I blogged a couple years ago about how our greatest fear in life is rejection, and even just feeling the possibility of not belonging is enough to tap all our insecurities.

Sometimes my maturity is overridden by an insecure teenage girl that still just wants to fit in.

Do I Belong Here?

Yesterday, I was at a Women 2.0 Pitch Conference geared for female founders of tech start-ups.  The irony isn't lost on me that a conference where I should feel like I fit in perfectly can still stir up all my little inner critical voices. Fear really isn't all that rational.

So in the spirit of transparency I'll admit I felt out-of-place. Yes I was a woman. Yes I had founded a start-up company.  Yes it's doing well and growing. Yes it's in the space of technology. Yes by all intents-and-purposes I belonged there.

I've blogged before about how difficult conferences can be for many of us (Pushing Through the Nerves to Meet People and The Mistake that Cost Me a New Friendship) but it can be in any setting where we may not already know a lot of people, may have a lot to learn, and may be surrounded by lots of amazing people that cause us to question our own amazing-ness.  There's a thin line between wanting to be inspired and called forward, and yet not feeling overwhelmed and incompetent! Put us in that place where we start wondering if we can reach our hoped-for-success and we're automatically in a very vulnerable place.

I was surrounded by people who had all earned MBA's.  Seemingly all from Stanford.  And suddenly I felt like I would never know the right people, be a part of the powerful network, or be able to learn fast enough everything they already seem to know. My insecure little girl kept whispering "let's just go back home where we feel safe and comfortable." You see, my expertise is in personal development, relational health, and spiritual growth-- not in funding rounds, code engineering, product shipping, user interface design, and market research. In some worlds my skill set could make me a rock star, in this one I was just very aware of everything I lacked.

And therein lies the challenge with fear--we'll never get where we want to without feeling it since it pops up anytime we leave our comfort zone. And obviously our comfort zone, while not scary, isn't bringing us want we value. We want to keep moving forward... but that always includes leaving our comfort zone. UGH!

For most of you in my female friendship community-- you crave deeper connections.  But unfortunately that requires you to meet strangers first.

Then follow-up. And do it again.  And wonder if they liked you too.  And wonder if it's their turn or your turn to make the next move. And then you have to risk sharing pieces of you, getting vulnerable.  And you have to find a new way of being with someone new. It's not without fear and insecurity that we walk that path.

Whether it's you wanting local meaningful friendships or me wanting to know how to best grow my company so that you can all make more friends-- we both will feel the fear of the unknown.

And we will eventually have to value the potential as greater than the fear we feel.  We'll have to feed the dream, starve the fear.  We'll have to weight the outcome as worthy of the path.

I Have to Believe I Do Belong.

At the conference yesterday they had a red chair there for the Sit With Me campaign designed to validate the role of women in the technology field. Men and women around the world are sitting in red chairs as their way of saying "we need to sit together, we want all voices and talents involved!"

On a form I was asked "Who are you sitting for today?" And while the obvious answer is for women in general, I specifically wrote that I was sitting for all those who weren't sure they belonged at the table, no matter their insecurity, perceived obstacle, greatest fear, hidden truth, or lack of credentials. I sat in that chair and whispered to myself "I do belong and so do thousands of others."

I sat in that chair and whispered that hope for you. That whatever chair you need to sit in-- that you would know you belong there.  No one else has to tell you that you do.  You just have to sit.

Kinda the way Rosa Parks belonged in the front of the bus.... Belonging can't be given to us, we just have to know it.

In some ways I was out of place, but in other ways I belong there and have much to offer that world in ways that no Stanford-MBA-serial-entrepreneur ever could. They're needed. And so am I. We all belong not because we're the same, but because the world needs all of us, contributing our best. Blessing the world in whatever way we each can.

If you're afraid of meeting at a ConnectingCircle or going to some event with strangers, I invite you to show up, sit in a chair (even if it's not red!) and remind yourself you're putting action behind what's important to you. There is room for you!

It's not without insecurity and doubt that we will contribute, step out, participate, engage, and sit-- in order to stand for what we believe in. It is even with those fears that we will do so.

And it's because of what we hope could be the outcome that will make the fear worth it.

 

 

 

Pushing Through Nerves to Meet People

Trying to fall asleep last Thursday night, I felt like a school-age girl on the eve of a new school year.  Intimidated. Excited. Fearful. Hopeful. Insecure. Anxious. The cause of my tossing-and-turning? A three-day conference starting the next morning where I knew no one.

On the one hand, its kinda silly to feel that pressure.  I mean, it wasn't like I was the keynote presenter or anything!  All I had to do was show up, sit in workshops and learn. Nonetheless, I felt the anxiety of possibly feeling left out because I didn't know anyone.

On the other hand, those insecurities make perfect sense. Walking into any group, crowd or community where you're not sure you'll fit in is the perfect backdrop for our greatest fear: rejection.  We all want to feel chosen, to feel likable, to feel known and to feel like we belong.  To not know if those needs will be fulfilled, it's normal to feel hesitation.

And you've got to know that I am a confident extrovert who likes people. And more often than not, they like me back.  Nevertheless, I felt nervous. So I can only imagine what it must feel like for those who are shy, who aren't practiced in meaningful conversations, who are drained by interaction, or have felt previous rejection or ostracism.  It's safe to say, we all know the insecurity when we don't yet know if we belong.

Why the Fear is Important

I jokingly said to my husband "Do I have to go?"

To which he replied "No, you don't.  But is it important to you to go?"

And I knew it was.  I wouldn't have signed up otherwise.

In fact, I'd argue that we feel nervous because it does matter to us.  The fact that you feel the fear is a sign that you want something.  The fear serves to remind us that we want what is on the other side. The fear inspires us to recognize that what we're stepping into is indeed significant.

  • We feel fear before a date because we value the possibility of love.
  • We feel fear before a job interview because we value the possibility of finding a place to contribute our skills.
  • We feel fear before a business risk because we value the possibility of success.
  • And, in our cases, it would be natural to feel fear before meeting new friends because we value the possibility of participating in consequential friendships.

An Invitation to Push Through the Nerves

Many of you, my readers, are currently trying to foster more friendships which means there will be quite a few strangers and awkward conversations on the road ahead.

I invite you to not allow fear to prevent you from stepping into what you crave.  We can't wait until the fear subsides to move forward, as it never will.  Courage isn't the absence of fear but the awareness that something else matters more than the fear. And friendship should be one of those things.

Take the risk! Show up for a ConnectingCircle, attend a Speed-Friending event, or simply initiate contact with a woman you want to get to know better.

I'm not saying it's easy.  I'm little Ms. Outgoing who frequently feels shy and uncertain about walking into groups of strangers.  Fear aside, I made a new friend and looked forward to seeing her the following morning for Day Two.

May you feel inspired knowing that the following night when I went to bed, there was no tossing and turning. Only excitement to get to know her more....