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Are You Living The Fearless Life

By Jacqueline Wales

When people think about being fearless it usually conjures up images of mountain climbers on Everest, skydivers jumping out of airplanes, and race car drivers on the Nascar circuit. Most people think I could never do that.

The truth of the matter is this. Every person who ever scaled Everest, jumped out of an airplane or raced around a track at 200 miles an hour was scared to death! They were putting their lives on the line and there was no guarantee that they would return alive. The difference between them and us is simple. They faced the fear and didn't allow it to overwhelm their need for adventure, their need to go beyond their usual comfort zone.

In my role as coach to midlife women, I am constantly surprised at how many women undervalue the amount of courage it takes to live. One of my clients had a child was very ill, she nursed him through the worst part of it, and continued to do her job where the expectation was that no matter what, she had to be in on time and do her work. She did it because they needed the money to pay the medical bills. She felt there was no choice. When told how courageous it was of her to do this, she looked at me blankly and said "what else could I do?"

How many women take their heroic journeys and say "what else could I do?" Or, "Who else was going to do it?" As women, we underplay our strengths and shrug it off as a trade-off. For what? We carry the load. Men may feel they are out there creating the wealth, but today that's no longer the truth. More women than ever are in the workforce AND still doing all the other stuff they did before. Who has the harder job? In my opinion there is no contest.

Women have expectations about doing it all. We work, we take care of the children, we cook, we clean and we run all the errands. When the kids are sick, or our husband is having problems at work, we nurture them and we continue to run until we run on empty. We get tired, depressed, anxious and angry. And we wonder why it has to be that way.

goals

Along the way, we lost the passion for living. When we were little girls we dreamed about what we would be when we were growing up. We played at being teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers and mommies. We travelled the globe on our wall maps and listened to the music and thought about becoming a rock star. We pushed away the doubts and went to college sure that we could do anything, and then the dream started to fizzle.

We did well in school, or didn't, we found work that satisfied, or didn't, and we married happily, or didn't. And bit by bit, the dream that said you could do anything was gradually taken over by necessities. Money to pay the rent, children who needed special care, husbands who were never home because their job took them away for days on end. We found ourselves taking care of the daily grind and gradually, ever so gradually, the desire and passion for something different, for something more, dwindled to a whisper.

We are happy when we are with our family. Our children give us enormous pleasure (and pain); and our relationships over the years have deepened into friendships that are the backbone of our existence. But something is missing and we can't quite put our finger on it.

When we reach our forties, we start to feel that the dreams we once had are no longer possible. We give in to the quiet despair of midlife believing "Is that All There Is" and knowing in your heart that the answer is no.

What is it that stands in our way from living the life we used to believe was possible? I believe it's Fear.

We live in a fear based world. Our culture breeds it in the daily dose of terror news. We are constantly bombarded by what's good for our health. People die from eating the wrong things. The latest was spinach. People die from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We live in a world without proper health care and we ignore countries in the rest of the world because we have enough troubles of our own at home.

Is it any wonder that we don't want to deal with our own fears? Better the devil we know than the one we don't.

I was forty-three years old and I had been in a relationship for thirteen years. We had three children, including his daughter from a second marriage. It was not the easiest relationship to be in because we were both strong-willed and stubborn people. We fought on a regular basis but found mutual ground in the love our children.

On one occasion, our fighting reached a crescendo and I was ready to leave. As usual, it was all his fault. He had made my life impossible with his demands, his thoughtlessness and his constant need for attention. I had had enough.

In the midst of our screaming at each other he yelled "You made the choices, not me." It stopped me in my tracks. The words stuck to my brain and resonated for hours afterwards. I hated to admit it, but he was right. It had been my choice to accept less than I wanted, to give more than I wanted to, to place myself in a secondary position so that I took care of everyone else's needs first. I wasn't even sure I knew what it was I needed at that moment, but I knew one thing.

I was scared to take responsibility for my own emotional happiness.

We keep ourselves in a state of fear! We all make choices. Some good, some bad, but they are choices. I didn't realize that for a very long time and wanted to blame 'over there' for most of the unhappiness in my life. We all have to make decisions. Sometimes these decisions may seem like there is no choice, but there always is.

Now all of this may sound like you've heard it all before. You have. But the sad state of affairs is that most women don't take time for their own needs and make excuses for why they won't move ahead into a life of fulfilment.

We all have choices and if we don't choose the things that make us feel good, that inspire us to get out of bed each day, and celebrate the life we live, we only have one person to blame.

Living the Fearless life is not a choice. Living the Fearless life means facing the fears that stop you in your tracks, that cause you to make excuses about why you can't do something, or refuse to make the changes that will mean feeling more fulfilled and happier with your life.

Think about this. In 2006, it is expected that women in their fifties will live until they are in their mid-eighties if their health is good. That's thirty more years of living!! You might have another forty or more. How exciting is that.

Isn't it about time you gave yourself what you need? What you want? What will make you happy? If you don't know what that is, find help to unearth the part of you that was buried in the landslide called living the unfulfilled life. Stop making excuses for not taking action.

I know it's hard. I know there are a million reasons why you can't take care of yourself. There are as many excuses as there are stars in the sky, but you don't have to wait until they burn out. That will take millions of years and you don't have that long.

Thirty years is a long time to be doing something you don't want.

Thirty years is another lifetime of putting your own needs first and creating the life you want to live.

At the beginning of this article, I used the examples of Everest and skydiving. Facing our fears does not have to be so monumental. But we do have to face up to our fears each and every day. It's in the million details of our daily lives. The decisions we take in our jobs, our families and in our personal care.

My challenge to you is simple. Live the Fearless Life by facing the fears each day. Life is not about being Fearless, it's about facing the fears and doing what makes us uncomfortable.

This is my first article. I put off writing it for weeks. Now that I've done the outline, I've got something to work with and I'll improve.

My fear is getting up and saying to you that you can do this. I'm an expert on Fear. I've lived with it from the earliest part of my life. But I've refused to give in to it.

I was nine years old, living in an old Scottish tenement building that was built during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. It was either haunted or I had an overly active imagination. One night I awoke to find a tall dark figure standing by the side of my bed. It looked huge and I could not make out any discerning features. It did not move and neither did I. I looked at it for a few minutes waiting for it to do something until I eventually closed my eyes and fell asleep once more. In the morning I asked everyone in our building if they had come to my bed the night before but no one did. To this day, I am convinced it was FEAR that came to visit. I lived with an abusive, alcoholic father and each day was spent in terror of doing something wrong.

We manifest what we most dread.

It took me a long time, but eventually I understood that living life fearlessly was not living a life without worry, but about facing the worries, the anxieties and the dread that comes with taking chances. You owe it to yourself to take the chance.

Fearless Fifties coach and speaker Jacqueline Wales shows you how to become the woman you were always meant to be; how to take risks to strengthen your beliefs about who you are and grow more confident, secure and strong as you develop the life you want. For your free copy of the Fearless Fifties newsletter and a bonus report Putting PASSION Back Into Your Life go to Fearless Fifties 

Please contact jacqueline@fearlessfifties.com or call (718) 502 9332


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