Hit the Road, Jack! Naming Your Fear

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” 

Carrie Fisher

It amazes me how in a split second I can feel paralysed with fear and then feel a sense of calm. 

Everyone has a fear at one point. My fear is running out money. It’s both paralyzing and annoying.

Since being laid off, my worries have been about running out of money. It is annoying because it comes and goes, but I have this constant fear that my family will be homeless. I’m 100 percent sure this fear stems from feeling unsafe as a child.

My parents experienced times when money was scarce, and their marriage faced challenges. This was between the ages 9. and 18. I lived in 12 different houses during those years, with two times in a hotel. My mom was a bookkeeper there, so I was always close. It was a nice hotel but it was a hotel. The hotel even hosted my junior prom date. 

When you live in 12 different homes in nine years, it’s difficult to connect with any home for long. Feeling safe at home? Fuggedaboudit! It was hard to feel safe during that time. 

One of these homes was located right across from a funeral house. My mom affectionately called that home “Coffin Corner.” (I loved my mom’s sense of humor.) But that’s not the reason why I didn’t feel safe there. A couple came to Coffin Corner one day, and they took my bed. It was a bed that my mom had given up because she needed money. My bed was literally gone.  

So, when I was laid off from my six-figure salary job as an adult, it’s no wonder that the fear of my family becoming homeless surfaced.

Ugh. F—ing fear. Fear is a horrible thing. 

But I’m starting to learn that fear is there for a reason. 

It’s a fight-or-flight response. I’ve heard it comes directly from the unconscious reptilian brain. Our reptilian brain is programmed for survival in a prehistoric world. Our brains are programmed so that we fear any threat to survival.

Being laid off felt like a threat for my survival. It felt like a threat to my family’s survival. I had images of having to sell my daughter’s bed out from under her. (By the by, that was actually what happened, but it was only because she outgrew the bed.

Breathing helped. Naming my fear has been an even greater help.

Name it if you feel paralysed by fear. It loses its power when you name it.

I don’t mean giving it a name like, I have a fear of “public speaking” or “running out of money.” (No sh*t, Sherlock!)

I mean to give it a real name. 

Give your fear a name, like the little girl or boy down the street who used beg you. 

I call my fear “Jack.” Don’t ask me why he has that name or why he is male. Development coach and Feng Shui expert Stacy Davenport, one of the wonderful people I’ve been blessed to have in my life, took me through a visualization on fear a month after being laid off. She asked me to give it a name, and “Jack” popped in my head. I think because I was so ticked at being afraid all the time, the song “Hit the road, Jack” kept coming into my mind.

Plus, Jack is a fun name. Jack fits my definition of fear as being annoying and mischievous. (My apologies, Jacks of the world.

Fear isn’t real. He’s something we imagine. He’s an emotion. He lost some power when I named him.  

I’ve befriended Jack. I’m able to have a conversation when he arrives. Not out loud, I don’t want to be locked up. (I have talked to him when I was alone but don’t tell anyone.) These “conversations” are short: I ask him why he’s here and what he’s trying to teach me. 

I give him a virtual hug and thank his thoughts. I kick his arse to the curb. Sometimes it takes a lot more kicking. Sometimes it took me kicking Jack around the room until he would leave.

But he was eventually sent on his way. 

Jack always comes back, of course. When he does return, I spend less time with him than if he didn’t. Fear wants to be acknowledged so that he can move on. Sounds like a lot of people you know, doesn’t it?

So, when you’re facing fear, name it. 

Fear could be a boy or a girl for you. (I say “girl” and “boy” because quite often that fear stems from childhood, such as with parents, teachers or other experiences.)

Choose a name you think fits with mischievous, a name that represents someone who gets in your way, someone who is annoying, someone you might want to befriend if he wasn’t so damn annoying.

When he comes back, it’s okay. You can love him and kick him to the curb once again.

Jack, get out there!

Happy Act Give YOUR Fear a Name!

Take a few minutes to sit down. Think about something that you fear. Close your eyes and imagine a little boy or girl coming towards you. Describe them in your head. Is she cute? Is she really that old? Imagine her as the annoying little child on the street.

What is her look like? When she comes up to you, it makes you smile. You love her for what she is. She just wants you to hear something. She wants to be heard. 

Be kind to her. Acknowledge her, tell her you understand what she’s trying to say. Then give her a hug and tell her that you have things to do and can’t play with her today. 

What name came to your mind? That name is your friend. That’s your annoying little “fear” friend. She’ll be back and that’s okay. Now you know how to send her off.

This post is excepted from Lisa Bailey Sullivan’s book Atta Girl!—The Art of Tapping into Your Power and Moxie and Living Fearlessly Happy (in the middle of a sh*tshow).

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