How to Break Your Chains of Fear
SAMIA: Hello, Salam, Shalom, Namaste, Aloha, Sat Sri Akal and Holah!
SAMIA: And you know what, we have a guest again and it's Geoff... that you heard from last week. We had such an excellent conversation I brought him back! Geoff is a Transformative Life Coach at MindAxis Life Coaching. So what we talked about last time is the importance of having a really strong and compelling vision for your life and how that really becomes the basis or the foundation that lifts you out of apathy, that helps you to practice the kind of discipline that you need in other aspects of your life to achieve the success that you want, and for you to feel the sense of empowerment in your life that you want. And it got me thinking Geoff, when we were talking last time, one of the things that I know in my experience, this happened with me actually... was that I actually developed a very clear and compelling life vision. I literally had dreams about it... I could see it, I could smell it, I could touch it and feel it. And I actually started doing what I could to start moving towards making that dream come true for me... and then something happened that put a full stop for a while on my progress and my ability to move forward towards my dream, and that was FEAR. I had such fear grip me... and there were so many insecurities that were underlying that fear... I wasn't good enough, I didn’t know enough, I didn't have enough money, knowledge, skills, etc. You name it! All of these insecurities turned into fear and it just made me just stop in my tracks. And until I was able to figure out how to move through that fear, and deal with that fear, transform that fear eventually, thank God, I couldn't make any progress on living my vision. So what do you see in your experience in terms of when people have a really clear vision, but fear is still holding them back, what do you do?
GEOFF: Well I guess the first thing is to identify where that fear is coming from. So if you're afraid of something, and fear is not a great feeling, but it is a survival instinct for humans... so in previous times you know if there's a threat that fear keeps you going so that you can survive. But in the modern day there isn't really a lot of survival threat. So that feeling of fear is then manifested based on past experiences, on things which we have experienced and we're going to project into our future. That's why I think the last time that we were speaking we spoke about what fear is. And to me fear is false evidence appearing real -- something that happened in the past we project into the future and expect the same outcome. But if we have, as you were saying, grand plans, a vision that you want to work towards, then that's going to hold you back because you're going to expect that your past is going to replay itself in the future. So for me the first thing that you'd have to do, or anyone who's feeling any kind of fear or limitation, is to recognize where does it come from? From what experience? From what memory? And work backwards from there....
SAMIA: Oh that's pretty cool and interesting. Why is it important to go back in the past? Why not sort of stay focused in the present moment and just deal with it as it emerges in the present moment?GEOFF: Because, unless you're able to view what has happened in a different light rather than looking at it as something that holds you back, but rather as a learning experience, you're going to keep repeating the same over and over and over again. Because unless you change your way of thinking, you're going to have the same outcome every single time. And that comes to a famous quote by Albert Einstein... he says, "You can never resolve a problem with the same level of thinking that created that problem". And it's the same for fear. If you keep looking at things in the same perspective then you're never really going to overcome it. And that's a real struggle.
SAMIA: Yeah that's true. That's true. I definitely agree 100% with you that we need to change our thinking, and you cannot, just as Albert Einstein said... you cannot solve the problem with the same level of thinking that you are at. Can you give me an example of how looking back in your thoughts to understand an issue can actually help you deal with it in the present? Like in terms of what you were talking about?
GEOFF: Yeah, sure! I guess a big thing which I was afraid of for a long time, and I'm happy to be transparent about this, is that I was very afraid of putting myself into a public forum, into a public sphere. And this manifested in terms of a fear of public speaking, in terms of fear of literally standing out from the crowd. And I felt like this for a very, very long time... when I was young, this was the opposite. When I was a young kid I used to love standing out from the crowd. But over time I was kind of conditioned into a way of thinking that I shouldn't. And a couple of years ago this came to a head especially when I needed to start taking charge in my life and putting myself in situations where I needed to stand up, like for example, in the workplace, or if I was trying to gain some kind of momentum in terms of like social gatherings or something like that outside of work. I realized that trying to keep yourself in a corner really isn't the best strategy for life at all. And I couldn't get past the fear every time that I tried to do something so simple as putting a post on Facebook... that would give me crippling anxiety a few years ago. And I was like, I can't live like this anymore! I had to really put in some work and really think about where does this come from? Where does it really come from?
And it comes from my schooling days...And it made me think, "Okay this is how I need to be for my whole life". But that's not a conscious thought. That's just a fear and you're going to realize where it comes from... But then when you realize where it originates from, you realize, okay well that's what happened back then but that does not determine my future, and you're compounding on again and again another belief. And to me now, I'm very happy to speak in front of huge crowds, forums... in fact I love it because it's what I originally loved, but I grew to become afraid of it because of past experiences.
SAMIA: Yes, I see what you're saying... I think another thing that can be very helpful and healing about looking in the past is being able to look at the past, what happened, but now from this present perspective… Hopefully you can now look at what happened in the past more objectivity and form a new, different perspective on what actually happened...and that can also just change your relationship with what happened, and therefore eliminate the fear... So if I give an example from life...I shared last time that I'm a survivor of sexual abuse. And so I developed a lot of issues related to shame and blame and guilt... it wasn't even outside people who were shaming, blaming and guilting me. I was shaming, blaming & guilting myself for a long time. Because I didn't tell anyone else for years and years about what had happened, so they couldn't even do that. I was doing it to myself. ...How it connects to fear is that because of all the shame and blame and guilt that I felt, I developed deep fear around trusting other people and asking for help when I needed it, because I was like, "Oh no! If people actually know about the darkness inside of me, they will not be able to love me anymore, they will not like me anymore, they won't want to help me anymore because I don't deserve it, I'm not worthy" ... because that's how I thought about myself. And so it created this intense fear of asking for help.
And it wasn't until I sort of shifted my perspective and I began to see what happened as... first of all I had to understand... what happened wasn't my fault. That was a hard lesson to learn. But then I began to see what happened, the trauma that I went through, as an opportunity for me to learn other even more amazing important lessons, and to become an even better stronger person... it's like, okay, yes I went through what I went through... but because of what I went through I'm now focused on learning about mental health, you know because I wanted to figure out how I can help myself. How can I stop my own suffering? And once I began to see my experience in the context of what opportunities it was providing me for learning and growth rather than a tragedy or a trauma that I went through, it actually also really helped to eliminate my fears that cropped up around asking for help and so forth.
GEOFF: Yeah it's really good when you can overcome it and look back because in the moment it is painful and does hurt. And that's part of the journey, right. It's not going to be roses and butterflies the whole way through. But when you look back on it you realize that hurt at that point in time translates to exponential growth in the future because you've invested in yourself in the past. And imagine if you had not broken through that fear of not wanting to ask for help we wouldn't even be doing this podcast because you would be trying to do it all on your own right, you wouldn't be collaborating. And that's... well that's evidence right there that you've overcome that fear.
SAMIA: Yeah, and not only would I not be doing this podcast, I wouldn't be doing much coaching, training, healing work either. Because if you're a coach, trainer, healer, you know it's one thing to have the skills of coaching, training and healing. And it's another thing to actually be able to make money doing what you love. And honestly, if you're going to have a real business, you cannot do business by yourself, you cannot. One of my business mentors, he was like, if you cannot take a one-month holiday and still have your business making money while you're off taking a holiday, it's not a real business. You're just trading time for dollars. And you have actually just created a job for yourself. And you're actually probably your own worst boss because you're probably overworking and severely underpaying yourself. Because you're trying to do way too much, and you're trying to do more than anyone is actually able to handle in the context of having a successful thriving business. So you can't really have a real business on your own, you need a team to work with, which means you have to ask for help.
GEOFF: Absolutely, absolutely! I mean at the very beginning you work on your own, and then once you get busy you start to outsource, and once you outsource then you can get different team members in. But at the beginning, I think it should be important to say that at the beginning you do want to work on your own because then you can save capital and use that to grow a team. But if you have a team at the beginning then that might not really work out too well because they might be underpaid or things like that...
SAMIA: Yeah, you know in the beginning you may not have a team that's on your payroll. But you still need a team, for example... I remember this from my early days when I started coaching, training, healing... I come up with a great idea for a product or a service or some event that I want to do and then of course I need to spread the word about it, right? And so if all I'm depending on is me to spread the word about whatever it is I need to spread the word about, I don't get very far. Because I only know a relatively small number of people, and not even all of those people are interested in what I have to offer in that particular moment and context. And so I have to be willing and able to ask for help from other people that I know and be like, "Hey! Can you help me spread the word?", you know? And these people are not on my payroll, but I need their help nonetheless...
GEOFF: Yeah for sure. That's more like friendship, or like having close connections that you can share out your business to, or share your idea to, and I guess that's like a team in a sense. But also like they're just your friends and family, so like it's just word of mouth in that sense.
SAMIA: Right, right. But I'm using the word team in this context in a loose, broad sense. I think our friends and family are definitely a part of my team, the way I define my team... My family is a part of my team even though they're not participating in my business... The fact that my family is there to help me and support me in so many ways -- mentally, emotionally, spiritually... like my mom. She makes delicious meals for me, and I don't have to worry about what I'm going to eat for dinner because I know my mom's making a delicious dinner. And the time that I save from not having to make my own dinner, I can invest that in doing more work to move my business forward. And so even though my mom's not part of my business team, she's nonetheless part of my wider support team that’s allowing me to actually do the work I do, and do it much better than I would if my family and my friends weren't a part of this broader team that I have around.
GEOFF: Oh yeah! I definitely understand that. You're right, it makes such a difference if you don't have to prepare your own meals or if you don't have to do your own laundry and things like that. I live on my own, so I still do things like that. It's extra for me. But if you don't have to do that, I appreciate that a lot...
SAMIA: It's a great blessing in my life! I know a lot of other coaches, trainers and healers who started their practices and unfortunately they couldn't keep going because they didn't have the same level of support that I do with my family and friends. I actually still live at home...my parents and my brother and sister. I'm not married, I don't have, you know, kids... So my family is my parents and my siblings. And I experience it as a great blessing to be still living with my family. During my early days as a coach, trainer, healer, when I didn't have a lot of money, I didn't have a lot of clients... if I wasn't living at home I don't know if I would have been able to sustain doing this work that was giving me little to no money. It took me one, two, three years actually to get to the point where I was like, "Ah yes! I can actually sustain myself with the work that I'm doing". So in the meantime it was such a blessing for me to have a team in this broader sense in my life, because it really allowed me to keep going.
GEOFF: Yeah, I think you're very fortunate, that's great, that's great! It means that you're able to invest your mental and physical resources towards what you really wish to do with your time because you don’t have to do a whole bunch of living admin and things like that... That opens up new availability to invest in learning, or invest in your business, or whatever it is you would like to do that gives you a greater platform, which I think is pretty awesome.
SAMIA: Yeah, so in your situation.... do you have any tips, tricks, techniques to share with other coaches, trainers, healers, etc. who are listening to us, who might be in more of a position like you are where you're living by yourself and so you do have to manage more things on your own? What are some things you do to manage all of that and create a good balance between your work and not-work work?
GEOFF: Well, the key thing is I'm pretty effective with my time. So I don't just do things for the sake of it... So if I need to do my housework or my cooking or whatever, I do it in one go rather than like continuously. And if you take that apart, when I look at my work day, I work like a good 12 hours a day. And that's completely fine because I have a lot of things I do. But the key is to incorporate exercise into your day. So you're going to exercise for at least two hours regardless. It doesn't matter what it is, two hours for me...
SAMIA: I do two hours of meditation, but I only do half an hour of exercise.
GEOFF: Exercise is meditation.
SAMIA: That's true! it can, it can be.
GEOFF: It is. Because when you're exercising you can't really be doing anything else, right? Because you're busy and I like that.
SAMIA: Well, I don't know about that one because how many times are we doing exercise, but our mind is not actually relaxed because you're busy thinking about other things... just the other day I was walking for exercise… I came back feeling physically okay. My heart rate was up, and I got some good stretching, etc. But unfortunately, that particular day I had things on my mind... there was something that I was worrying and stressing about...and I wasn't able to mentally and emotionally relax while walking. And so even though physically I felt some benefits from walking, mentally and emotionally, that time, walking was not a very meditative experience for me. And I actually had to come back home and do one of my ritual forms of meditation to really, finally calm my mind down. And then I felt so much better!
GEOFF: It depends on how hard you exercise as well... like walking is great. But I find that walking really makes me think as well, sometimes thinking so much! I'm just like you have to start running now, because otherwise my brain is just gonna go overdrive. So if you start running hard then you can't really think. You can just focus on getting to your checkpoint, your next checkpoint or whatever. And when the gyms are open, I'm at the gym doing the same. So there's always different checkpoints so your mind isn't in overdrive. If you are physically straining yourself and then once you finish that, your mind is very relaxed... If you do very light exercise then your mind goes into overdrive because it's a balance, right...If your body's busy, your mind can't be, but if your mind is, then your body isn't busy. So they work in tandem like that.
SAMIA: I definitely hear you, and I agree with you about the level of challenge. It has to be the right level of challenge. No matter what kind of activity you're doing, if you're at an optimal sort of level of challenge, it will naturally keep your mind focused on working on whatever that point of challenge is. So that's an excellent point...but then you said something about... what was the last thing you said? About how your brain and mind work in tandem? Can you repeat that? I felt like it was really important but I missed it.
GEOFF: Yeah... what I'm saying is that when your body is in physical exertion mode your mind can't be, because your mind is focused upon maintaining your physical exertion... Like say, for example, if I say, "Okay I'm going to run a kilometer ", then my mind is entirely focused upon this because if I'm not that fit then it's going to be hard for me to run a kilometer. And likewise, if your mind is busy like say for example, if you're busy on your computer doing something or doing a task for your business, like right now in this podcast my mind is engaged. Therefore I'm just sitting. I'm focusing upon this. So you can't have too many focuses at once. Like you can't run a kilometer at full speed and also be thinking about a million things... it just, it doesn't really work that way you know. You can only have so much mental direction, or mental energy rather.
SAMIA: Right! Now I agree with you. Our mind's capacity to focus is actually limited. And that... What do you think about multitasking? What are your thoughts about multitasking?
GEOFF: Multitasking is a great way to get very little done across a whole bunch of things. So I used to be a project manager and I used to basically have a whole bunch of things to do every single day. There were so many different things, so many different emergencies, just all kinds of different things from many different people. And oftentimes you have to multitask because everything is urgent right. If you're in projects, everything is urgent. And I found that...sorry?
SAMIA: I said it can certainly feel like that!
GEOFF: Yeah, it does... Yeah, everything is urgent because everyone needs it now. So if you're working on many different things, you have an objective you need to do for the day, and oftentimes you never reach an objective... like say if I needed to get this amount of documents approved, it just wouldn't happen. Because everything is urgent at the time. And therefore multitasking is a great way to get nowhere. But if I didn't have all these emergencies popping up and I could just focus on what I needed to do, then my objective would be complete. And I find that singular focus is very powerful over multitasking because your brain loses energy towards what it needs to focus upon.
SAMIA: Yes I still agree with you. I am no fan of multitasking. I don't think it works. I think it's just a big illusion in the sense that we think we're doing a lot, we feel like we're staying busy and being productive. But actually there's a lot of research that shows it seriously compromises your productivity. There's so many different little experiments that you can do for yourself and see...
I remember one of the experiments is that you are given two different things to write. So one is like a sequence of letters, it could be a sentence or something. And the second thing is a sequence of numbers. So now the question is, if you're writing and you have to write both the sentence in letters and the sequence of numbers, and basically you need to, in the end, have it be in a certain pattern, then how can you most effectively and efficiently execute? Should you keep switching back and forth between number, letter, number, letter, number, letter? Or do you just stick first to only doing the numbers or only doing letters and then moving to the next thing?
So in the second scenario where you just focus on one thing, one pattern at a time, that's like a single point of focus. And in the first scenario where you try to move between number, letters, number, letters, alternate, that's like your brain’s trying to multitask. And it's a very simple experiment but it very clearly shows the time difference between the first strategy and the second strategy in terms of how quickly people are able to finish the task, and how effectively they're able to finish it in terms of making the least number of errors. The results are stunning. It takes way longer when you are just switching between the two patterns, and you make way more mistakes. There are lots of other examples also, but that's one of the examples that came to mind.
GEOFF: Yeah well it makes complete sense. Because in the same way which I used to do in project management, my brain used to have to switch between so many different things. Because we were doing trials, and we were doing clinical trials, so this is basically testing different treatments on different patients. And there's so much happening you know especially in healthcare. But I find that I especially like learning from that experience. So when I work for myself now, I only ever singularly focus upon one task, I don't multitask.
SAMIA: Yeah, talk about an excellent tip for making change fun and easy! Don't multitask! Insofar as you have the power and the ability to create your own culture and environment for how you work... create a culture and environment where you're able to focus on one task at a time and don't multitask.
GEOFF: Yeah! It's great to not multitask. But I think for a lot of jobs people don't really have that opportunity especially when you have things popping up all over the time it just can't be helped.
SAMIA: I know, I know. And that's actually another one of those things like last time we were talking about how our society actually unfortunately has some really incorrect, unwise ideas about what success is and how to achieve success. And I feel like this is one of those issues also. With work culture, in most places, in most environments, most companies and offices, and for a lot of people even in the way that we have our personal life set up, we have a built-in culture where multitasking is the norm. And it's even seen as an amazing superpower and it's like, "Yes! Learn to multitask and do it even more and better". And I think it's just that people are missing this information and knowledge that you and I have been able to tap into. You've seen the research, how multitasking doesn't actually work... and we've given it a try, and tried the other way, and found it to be true. So yeah, I agree with you, if you're stuck in a culture that doesn't support focused action then you do the best you can with what you have.
GEOFF: Well I think that's the difference between working a job and working for yourself. Working for yourself you can choose how you do it. Working a job you don't. Working a job is a role and you've got to complete your tasks, your deadlines and that's where the difference comes in.
SAMIA: Yup, yup... that maybe motivation for anyone who wants to start their own...start their own...
GEOFF: Business? Yes, for sure!
SAMIA: Thank you so much for coming back and talking with me again today, and sharing your amazing advice and wisdom and perspective with us. I'm so grateful and… hey everyone, if there's one lesson that you can take away today, well there's many amazing lessons you can take away from today, but one of them is focus.
As much as you can, focus on one task at a time. If you have a compelling life vision already, focus on that. Don't do a million different things in your life. Focus on doing what you can to live in integrity with your life mission and vision. And if that's something that you find yourself struggling with...hey, Geoff’s here to help you. I'm here to help you. So please feel free to connect with us. We will put our links in the chat below. We'll look forward to seeing you again! Take good care :).
GEOFF: Thanks Samia, it was great being here again today :).
SAMIA: Thank you Geoff :)
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