How Big Is Your But? Identifying Excuses and Using Fear to Get Things Done

Fear and ExcusesBy Christy Schutz

A speaker I heard recently cleverly wrapped up his discussion on overcoming obstacles by posing this odd question: How Big Is Your But? At first, the audience was completely silent as we wondered “Ummm… did he just say what I think he said?” Quickly thereafter you could hear a few snickers and some under-the-breath, snappy and sarcastic comebacks. He went on to explain that he wasn’t talking about our ACTUAL derrieres. He was referring to all those excuses and limitations we put on ourselves when encountering a challenge or considering a life change.

The bigger the “but,” the more apt we are to abandon our dreams or avoid making important changes in our lives.

I started to reflect on the thousands of women in the workforce, particularly those who are yearning for a work at home career. What kind of “buts” do they have? Some common self-defeating thoughts that I hear are “But I’ll never make enough money in a work at home job” or “But my boss doesn’t seem like the type who’d consider an alternative work arrangement” or “But there aren’t any reputable work from home businesses” or “But I’m not sure my role would be conducive to a work from home environment” and the list goes on and on.

The fact is that according studies conducted by Global Workplace Analytics and the Telework Research Network, an estimated 20 million to 30 million workers in the U.S. work from home at least one day a week. And of those, 3.1 million people confirmed that their homes served as their main workplace. In Forrester Research’s 2009 study, they predicted that telecommuters will reach numbers of over 63 million by 2016. So, not only are workers interested in telecommuting opportunities, but, employers are interested in filling roles with remote workers.

So, why do we make excuses and plan for failure before we even begin?

The inner voices and “but” excuses are our way of avoiding change. According to Jonathan Alpert in his book “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days,” everyone fears change. “Your brain prefers predictability, certainty, and control. When things are uncertain and you don’t know what’s going to happen next, your brain attempts to make up an ending. It writes its own narrative. There are two problems with this narrative. One, it’s often not accurate. Two, the narrative is usually negative, and it’s these negative thoughts that lead to catastrophic, work-case scenario thinking.” So, perhaps the best way to tackle any change in our lives is to accept and anticipate that we will have fear—and move forward anyway.

Psychotherapist and CEO of Live Fearless and Free, Terri Cole, writes about this in her TheDailyLove.com post entitled “How to Use Fear to Your Advantage.” Cole points out that while fear is a definite feeling or survival response, it is not necessarily a fact. “We change our feelings all the time, so we can change the fear feeling also! Mortal fear is the only informed fear. If your life is in danger, the fight or flight response is adaptive and necessary. However, most of the time when your flight or fight response is activated, you are not in mortal danger (we often refer to this as stress). You can have an initial fear response, recognize you are not in mortal danger, and calm your mind to create clarity.”

It turns out that the “fear feeling” can be incredibly energizing and inspiring, too.

Jonathan Fields, in his book “Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance,” touches on the idea that that fear or those butterflies in the stomach are a sign that you are about to create something new and fulfilling.

What are some of the “but” responses you use to avoid making important changes in your life, like a new work at home opportunity, weight loss goal, relationship, financial plan, and more? Please share an instance when you used fear to your advantage to achieve a remarkable result.

Christy Schutz is a communications professional and freelance writer focused on topics like employer/personal branding, career management, personal development, women in the workplace, and female entrepreneurs. She enjoys putting 16+ years of experience in the advertising, recruitment marketing, employee/internal communications and special events industries to good use by helping others to discover, develop and market their own distinct calling or mission. This Tampa Bay, FL-based Mom also keeps herself busy by raising 4 kids, caring for her husband & doting on her dogs Petey and Daisy!

Powered by WPeMatico

Leave a Reply