New Year – Same Old Fears

By Lisa Murphy

The New Year is fast approaching, but instead of talking about the resolutions we all plan to make, I want to flip the script a little bit and talk about what prompts these resolutions.

Why do we need to resolve to do anything in the first place? If we want to lose weight, quit smoking, take piano lessons or start blogging more (ahem), why don’t we just do it?

Laziness is one factor obviously, and lack of time can be a factor as well. But look at it this way. When you’re dating someone who is really interested in you, he/she, no matter what, will make the time to see you and will put the effort in to maintain the relationship.

The same is true with hobbies and interests outside our regular routine. If you really want to do something (like plant a garden in your back yard) you will make the time and you will put the effort in to do it. So why do we feel the need to make resolutions every year, what’s really holding us back? One very simple word: fear.

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching and work on myself in the last year, and I’ve become a lot more self-aware and I realized what I already sort of suspected; I am a worrier, I catastrophize everything. I’m constantly worried about my future, which makes it nearly impossible to live in and enjoy the moment and even harder to make decisions.

There are so many things I’d like to do, and have been talking about doing for years that I haven’t because I’m so afraid of the opinion of others and the unlikely consequences I’ve probably made up in my head. I won’t take voice lessons, because the voice coach will clearly think I’m a joke. I won’t take a dance class, because it’s been a decade since I’ve taken one, and I’m really rusty. I won’t take cooking lessons, because I’ll go in there looking like an amateur.

A resolution in my opinion is a promise to yourself to push past your own boundaries, and your own perceived comfort level. Basically, a resolve to conquer your fears; but come on, that’s freaking scary! (Unless you’re our fearless GOTG editor Laura Braden, check out her fear bucket list here). In my opinion, and from personal experience, that’s why a lot of resolutions remain unfulfilled.

I’ve found that one way to push past some of your fears is by writing out what’s called a fear inventory. A two sided list with the fear in one column and the reason this person, place or thing scares you in the other. For example, “Fear of Public Speaking: Because I’m afraid of sounding stupid and the sound of my own voice.”

When you make an inventory of your fears and put it down in black and white, you’ll discover a couple things.

  • One, that if you’re anything like me, you’re afraid of pretty much everything. Fear I’ll never get married, fear of inadequacy, fear of mosquito eaters, fear of conflict, fear of rooms with no windows, fear of IKEA, fear of success, fear of failure, fear of mattress springs, fear of enclosed spaces, fear of mascot costumes, I could go on, the list is endless.
  • Two, that some of your fears are pretty irrational when you read them out loud to yourself. I mean, what is a mosquito eater going to do to me? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

In my experience, when writing out a fear inventory and writing down why you are afraid of certain things, you will be laughing at yourself quite frequently. Some of our fears are completely absurd and unfounded and yet they are very real to us. Writing out a fear inventory helps make them feel a little less scary and makes you feel a lot more human.

So if one of your New Year’s resolutions this year is to follow through with all your resolutions, and make them stick, I recommend writing out a fear inventory first. Cause if your resolution involves doing something that does take a lot of courage,( like going back to school, applying for a new job, reconciling with a loved one, or quitting an unhealthy habit), it will help you to know what’s behind the fear that has been holding you back all these years.

Happy Holidays and a very happy, healthy and FEARLESS New Year to all!

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