Lynn F. Forney ~
You are inspired. Motivated. Ready to share your voice. Your fingers gently rest upon the computer keys, ready for the brilliance to flow forth and appear before you on the screen. But, in the shadows, lurks another voice. A voice you know well. The one that makes you sink in your chair, stifling your brilliance. The one that makes you feel small and defeated. As you slide your fingers away from the keyboard, it basks in the glory of keeping you small. Keeping you silent. Keeping you safe.
How do you stand up to a voice so powerful? Especially when it comes to something that requires you to show your most vulnerable parts to the world? All while having no idea how they will be received or treated once out on their own? The answer is simple in theory, yet layered with numerous complexities that add to the challenge. But, rather than allowing that information to stifle you, use it to arm yourself to rise to the occasion. To take control of your fear and use it to move forward.
When it comes to fear, one of the most powerful things you can do is become better acquainted with it. Who is it and why is it here in the first place? First and foremost, fear is here to protect you and keep you safe. Safe from threats that are both real and perceived. Becoming clear about this will help change your relationship to fear, allowing you to work with it as opposed to being controlled by it. When fear takes hold with phrases like “what if” or “I can’t/shouldn’t,” use that as information to assess the situation. If the threat is perceived, it’s time to push forward, even if it’s still a bit scary.
Scary? Yes, I’m afraid so. Most likely, sharing your voice with the world will be scary. But do you want that to define you? Defeat you? Keep you silenced and small? Or do you want to allow that to push you forward? This is another place to find clarity. Why do you want to do this in the first place? Why does it feel important to you? Truly knowing and understanding this provides you with another layer of armor. When fear’s voice becomes louder than yours, it’s time to have a conversation with it. Acknowledging this is scary. You understand there are risks involved, things that are unknown. But you are willing to handle it. And not only willing, but capable.
How do you become capable? By building trust. Trust with yourself and trust with your fear. This is seldom done by taking a big giant leap, but rather setting small agreements with yourself and following through. I say agreements rather than goals, because setting goals can get a bit muddled. Especially when you start out by using the word should. Rather, make an agreement with yourself that is actionable and measurable. One that involves little to no risk. For instance, if you’ve been avoiding a task that is necessary but mundane, decide you are going to do it and when. “I will clean the bathroom tomorrow.” If setting a window of time works for you, add that as well. But if it doesn’t, know that any time will do as long as it was done that day. Then, make no excuses. Do it. Follow through. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, take note of your accomplishment. You may be tempted to tell yourself this wasn’t a big deal and certainly not something to be celebrated. But on the contrary. You made a decision and followed through. This tells your brain you are capable and reliable, creating trust; another layer of armor in your fight against fear. Allowing you to do the same when the stakes are higher.
When are the stakes higher? Using your voice through writing. Make an agreement and follow through. Have an open conversation with fear when it shows up. Stay true to why you wanted to write in the first place.
Fear isn’t the enemy. At least it doesn’t have to be. Certainly not when you have the power to use your voice.
— Lynn F. Forney
Lynn F. Forney is a dancer, choreographer, actor, director, and writer. Earlier this year she published her memoir Choosing Survival: How I Endured a Brutal Attack and a Lifetime of Trauma through the Power of Action, Choice, and Self Expression. She currently lives in Austin, TX with her husband and two rescue dogs and loves scuba diving, hugs, and honey mustard.