You know what I’ve found are the 3 most difficult steps in language learning and life?
- Showing up – leaving the safety of our comfort zone
- Stepping up – to become the person you want to be
- Speaking up – being willing to open your mouth and let words come out
I’m speaking from experience. When I first started my business, I was afraid of being seen, of making mistakes, of being judged.
And it was even harder as a perfectionist. I didn’t want to feel the challenging emotions that came up. It wasn’t as clear as that at the time, because I was sometimes so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t even realize what was driving my actions. The emotion was just like a shadow in the background, knocking at the door, waiting to be “allowed in”.
But, first things first, how do we feel when we take up a new challenge like learning a language or speaking up?
- Discomfort – of trying something new and leaving our comfort zone
- Confusion – the “primitive” part of our brain tells us that we don’t know how, that it’s a risk, that we shouldn’t take it.
- Fear/anxiety – we’re scared of possibly messing up and ultimately of “shame, blame and judgement” (thanks Brené) .
And because we don’t know how to handle these “negative” emotions, we try to escape them.
What is our escape plan?
- We distract ourselves by procrastinating – we surf on social media, watch Netflix, drink or overeat…
- We resist our feelings by ignoring them or telling ourselves we shouldn’t feel that way. We try false positive thinking: “I’m ok, everything’s ok” but don’t believe it.
- We react to them – we feel frustrated about feeling frustrated for example.
And none of these escape tactics are necessary. But we don’t realize it because we’ve never been taught how to feel.
We waste so much time escaping our emotions or getting lost in our thoughts about them that we don’t take the action we need to take to get the results we want.
I now know that feelings aren’t a problem, they’re part of life, of the human existence. They’re completely neutral until we attach a label to them and make them mean something about us, i.e. we feel bad about feeling bad.
So what can we do instead?
There are several steps, but let’s look at the first one.
I call it the PLO process:
- Pause – and check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling. That uncomfortable feeling is a signal to stop what you’re doing and get curious.
- Label – the emotion as specifically as possible so it’s no longer a vague notion but recognisable. You’re now aware of it rather than lost in it.
- Observe – the emotion in your body (where is it? is it moving? what colour is it?…) and open up (=allow) to feeling it until it gradually subsides.
So simple and yet we don’t do it because we’re so scared of feeling the feelings linked to showing up, stepping up and speaking up. But we can survive a feeling, it’s just a vibration in our body. And once we’ve realized that, there’s not much else that can hold us back…
But this is the leak through which we give all our power away.
Which is so ironic really because the reason we do anything is to feel a certain way.
- Learning a language or speaking in public = feeling of connection
- Creating a business = feeling of satisfaction, fulfilment, pride
Want to know more about dealing with feelings?
Where they come from and what causes them?
How they can become our superpower to get the results we want?
Contact me. I can help.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash: Ian Dooley, Michelle Cassar