Jessica Soroky’s Guest Post #35: There Is No Such Thing As Fear

“When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

Throughout my entire educational journey, I have been asked to define what “happiness” is to me. As I got older, the question slowly morphed into what do I believe “success” is.

It became clear very quickly that based on an individual’s biases and history, everybody’s definitions are slightly different than the person’s next to them.

I had a breakthrough this past weekend when I joined my friends at a local bar.

The Responsibility Process(When I wrote that sentence, I instantly felt the need to follow it with an explanation about how I rarely ever go to bars. In re-reading that response, I saw my words screaming Justify, as in the mental position in The Responsibility Process™. The beautiful part of this whole journey is that I continuously learn as I write these blog posts. )

I recently realized that my need to Justify comes from fear –

  • fear of being judged,
  • fear of someone making an assumption about me and then telling other people.

The more I thought about it, I realized the latter is truly a fear of someone believing that assumption. I fear being judged.

The thing I see the most in others is the thing I dislike most about myself – I am judgmental.

Being aware of my fears, asking myself, “Why am I afraid of this?” and searching for the root cause allows me to open my eyes to reality. And the reality is that the fear is created by myself and only exists in my head.

All of this was running through my head as I watched two of my closest friends have a conversation in the bar, judging other people. Even worse, they were talking about our friends that weren’t there, judging recent choices they’ve made.

I found myself only contributing to the conversation every once in awhile, asking them, “Why do you care?

Why do you care if she (a grown woman) bought this car instead of that car?

Why do you care if she (another grown woman) has chosen to move in with her boyfriend?”

What business of mine was it to judge what my friends chose to do? No matter what, I was still going to love them.

The conversation began to turn on me when one of my friends decided to tell another friend that I have no life. “She works all the time, she doesn’t have a work-life balance, all she has is work.”

I instantly went into Denial — I couldn’t believe someone so close to me thought I had no life.

Then it hit me.

If we are aware that our happiness is different from someone else’s happiness, why do we spend so much time judging each other?

I was allowing her to place her definition of what “having a life” meant on mine. I wish I would have gotten up and left instantly, choosing not to allow myself to be at the effect of this comment.

But the reality was that it hurt. I got mad — I was tired of being told that I didn’t have a life just because I am not your “typical” 21-year-old woman.

I instead declared how much I love my life. It is fulfilling, stimulating, challenging, and I wake up every day in love with what I do. This is my life – and I can allow for other people to choose whatever they want for their life.

Very early in my journey I had a similar encounter and handled it very differently. My emotions responded before my brain could process anything. Afterward, my mentor said something that has stuck with me ever since: “Who is holding the measuring stick you are trying to measure up against?”

I was putting so much pressure on myself to live up to an expectation no one had set but me. It was all an attempt to measure up to someone else’s definitions of happiness or success.

What if I only worried about me and stopped spending so much energy on being afraid of what others think about me?

Instantaneous relief flooded me.

This week I am going to play an awareness game I learned in The Leadership Gift™ Program. We call it the “Catch Sooner Game.” The idea is to catch ourselves doing something that we have declared we want to change, and then taking some immediate action, thus building greater awareness.

I’m going to divide a sticky note into two sides, with one side saying, “I caught it before it got out,” meaning I became aware of when I was justifying a decision or behavior out of fear of another person’s judgment. On the other side it will say, “It got out.”

Every time I become aware that my fear got out, I am going to put two points on the “It got out” side. When I catch it before it gets out, I’ll put one point on the other side.

The purpose of this exercise is to practice my awareness of this behavior so that I can consciously start choosing differently.

Jessica Soroky, CSM

Only 21 years old, Jessica is already a Certified Scrum Master with two years of practice in agile delivery and team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.

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Posted in Leadership on 05/07/2014 08:07 am
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