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How to Identify and Overcome Little Fears and Why It Matters

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I recently joined a synchronized swimming troop. Every Thursday at 5:30 I ruin about twenty minutes of my life trying to talk myself out of going and then I go anyway. I always leave the pool feeling like a million dollars so I began to wonder why I was self-sabotaging this amazing experience. It didn’t take long to realize there were a bunch of little fears working their magic like little joy parasites. I rolled my eyes and sighed at the realization, “oh my gosh, Oh my goodness- ok, I got this.”

What am I afraid of?

What am I afraid of here? Well rejection for one and failure for another. I’m walking into an established tight knit group where I am new and don’t know anyone. I’m literally afraid of treading water all by myself, not participating in locker room banter. Not being picked for a formation team.  On top of that I have not learned a new physical skill in forever. I’m afraid of not being able to do the lifts, master the form, flow beautifully through fluid formations.

When I made my excuses every Thursday, I did not realize these were at play. These were subconscious fears that I realized only upon closer inspection were bubbling beneath the surface and showing up as “its too cold today” and “I should probably stay home and mend all of my torn sweaters.”  

Moving beyond fear.

Then I was able to put my fears in the crosshairs. Just by recognizing them, individually, giving them names and bringing them to the light I could pick them off one by one. How can I get to know these ladies better? I can listen, I can ask questions, I can learn about them. I can be patient for crying out loud, that is how relationships are formed. Sticking that complex formation on my first try? Yeah right! How has my adult mind been duped into thinking this is how anything works? Hello? Revel in the progress! I’ll start by not sinking it can only get better from there.

So needless to say at the first inkling of what I now know is a fear response I  play the old west high noon dual showdown whistle in my head and take my position. Instead of feeding it at all, I replay in my mind how great it felt to master sculling for almost an entire width of the pool. How much fun it was to view the formations from under water and gain a better understanding of their inner workings. Small victories right! It seems like small stuff, but it’s all small stuff and yet it’s critical. Here’s why…

Developing new ways of thinking.

At its core, this practice is all about developing new neural pathways for your brain to call upon. Left unchecked, little fears become big fears and eventually habits of the mind. You literally are creating pathways in your brain when you experience thoughts and emotions. Have that same fear over and over again, feed into it, let it take hold and it’s created one and only one well-worn thought path in your brain. So now you’re only available thought pattern leads to fear. Something happens and the fear brain kicks in and says “that’s ok, I got this, I know the way” and off it goes. When you create a new thought pattern you create more alternative pathways for your brain to explore as responses and then you can break the pattern of fear based thinking. As you identify and then move beyond one small fear after another you build upon your collection of positive possibility pathways in your brain. When you do this, new pathways and possibilities are opened up and who doesn’t love new possibilities!

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How Saying Yes to That Whacky (or little thing) Can Change Your Life

Square dancing at the Peabody Heights Brewing Company in Baltimore

Think about how many times in a given week you have to give people a yes or no answer to something. Our initial response is usually based on two thought patterns. One is based on maintaining familiarity and routine. The other is a skewed prioritization system that steers us away from joy and toward stress. How many times have you turned down an offer to go square dancing so you could stay home and get caught up on your work? Never? Oh me neither actually, I said “yes” to square dancing and it was really fun! My point is that when you get those intriguing offers and opportunities try just blurting out “yes!” and let the rest fall into place. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results and well on your way to establishing more beneficial patterns of behavior and choice.  

I recently realized my yes’s & no’s were getting a bit out of whack. Most notably I said no to my friend Robyn every time she asked me to walk the dogs for two weeks straight. I had a lot of work to do it seemed logical to pass on the walks. We do that, we say no to the energizing walk which leaves a yes to the energy draining work. Dumb!  So naturally I started saying yes to the walks again. I’ll figure it out I thought. Things will get done, it always works out. Well this little experiment in saying yes garnered some interesting insights. Turns out I got more done- yes more! I realized the walks were refreshing my perspective and refueling my energy and that when I came back I was able to do my work more efficiently.

Routine and structure can be comforting but it’s those times when we break away from routine that actually create the spaces in which to live and spur positive evolution and growth. When we experience something new, we simply feel more alive.  Saying yes more often, and more spontaneously, can be a great tool for personal growth. Saying yes breaks you from your routine and opens you up to a sense of freedom. Even if it’s just a little thing like accepting an offer to go square dancing on a chilly Thursday, it can lead to more breaking free of routine and living more in the moment. I talk about this in my book, Free Lark (the new attitude of financial freedom) becoming free in one way can lead to freedom in so many other ways!  What can you say yes to today? A walk with your neighbor, snugging on the couch with the kids, square dancing?

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Freedom shareable

Head on over to the free shareables page and grab and share my latest free social graphic. Post it on your facebook wall, instagram it, send it to friends & enjoy the positive vibes. Click the image to see more, right click and save to enjoy!

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Free Spirit Shareable

Head on over to the free shareables page and grab and share my latest free social graphic. Post it on your facebook wall, instagram it, send it to friends & enjoy the positive vibes. Click the image to see more, right click and save to enjoy!

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FreeLark Sneak Peek: Play is Vital to Your Prosperity

The first chapter in FreeLark (subtitled, The New Attitude of Financial Freedom) is about play. That should really tell you something about the perspective of the book. I cherish play, silliness, laughter, and most of all laughing at myself. I find that my relationships, work and other experiences are greatly enhanced after a little kitchen dance party or a visit to pleated-Jeans.com . So I wanted to research play and how it affects our productivity as well as our overall emotional and physical well-being.  

One of the first things that surprised me, and that I discuss in greater detail in the book, is that we all have our own play personalities. Events and activities that we might not ordinarily categorize as “play” actually enrich our lives in a positive way and deserve to be recognized as such.   To give you an example, I volunteer in and coordinate many community events and activities. More than one person in my life has asked me why I do this so much and “I don’t know, I like it” has always been my response.  In researching play for my book I discovered that a big element of my own play personality is coordinating and conducting. Welp… there you go, for me volunteering and coordinating is quite literally play.

We invest a huge amount of our personal resources into the advancement of earning and achieving. How might changing our perspective on play change our lives? When we better understand its role and value in our lives, we find ourselves playing more and reaping the rewards of play.  

It should come as no surprise that my research also supports the notion that play is something we should all be doing more of! Play is a catalyst for change and positivity, and a presence hack. It boosts our productivity and enhances our sense of happiness. It reduces stress, inspires creativity and builds healthy relationships. Why is it that when we become adults we do less, not more, of this amazing playing?

Stuart Brown M.D offers this wonderful Ted Talk on the importance of play and its natural presence in our development & prosperity as human beings.  FreeLark opens and closes with topics on play, I hope both will inspire you to make time for more play in your life!

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