Ron says that the best way for him to hold it is a story from when he was 30 years old. He was in the Rockhurst Executive Fellows Program with other members who were much older and much more experienced, making him feel like he didn’t belong.
A speaker at the program, Dr. Bowen White, introduced the idea of a “scared guy” that we carry with us at all times, trying to make sure no one else can tell how scared we are. Ron felt that Dr. White was speaking directly to him. When Dr. White asked how many people felt that they were the only one who was scared, everyone in the room raised their hand. Ron said his world shifted and learned that everyone had a scared self.
If our scared self can never go away, what’s the best way to handle it? Ron says that his first step is to acknowledge it. ”There’s my fear,” he says to himself, so he can put it in the “back seat” and Ron can drive. The next step is to talk about it with others. Fear loses its power when you talk about it with other people, and then you can recognize it as part of being human.
Ron shares a story about when he moved to Germany in 2003 and didn’t know the language when he arrived. Not knowing the language makes everything harder, and he felt like he didn’t know how to do anything. He had a hard time finding a school for one of his kids, and his scared self had him really wound up. But in the end, it all worked out.
Michelle tells Ron she can relate to the unfamiliarity of living in another country because she had also moved abroad, to Japan, for her job. But even while being afraid, how would Ron have handled the same situation differently today?
Ron says he would tell himself, or anyone else in the program, to relax. “You’ll figure it out.” While it doesn’t stop the scared self, it doesn’t drive you.
Michelle tells a story about trying to conquer her fear of roller coasters when she was a senior in high school, buying a season pass to the amusement park and going on every roller coaster to condition herself not to be afraid. But after three months, she didn’t like them any more.
Eventually, she decided to stop scaring herself and learned to accept — and be okay with — her fear. And it gave her space to become something else, as a good friend who holds other peoples’ stuff while they enjoy the ride.
Michelle shares another story about being afraid of speaking up at work. When she had a good idea, she wouldn’t speak up, and sometimes other people would later say the same thing, which everyone would agree with. Michelle learned that it was her scared self holding her back, and she would put her scared self in the back seat so she could contribute more in meetings.
Responding to Michelle’s story, Ron says that sometimes it helps him to think of it this way: Instead of trying to have the best answer, he should share his ideas to see if they inspire anyone else.
Michelle shares a story about playing tennis, and being afraid of letting her partner down. When her partner says not to worry about winning or losing — just relax — she notices that they play better.
Ron says our scared self likes to create a shield, hoping that no one will notice us. But for some people, always putting their ideas out on the forefront is their version of a shield. They’re afraid, but acting like they’re not is how they try to hide their true feelings.
Ron says that it enables us to be vulnerable, opening us to hear other’s stories and opening us to be “modified.” When you keep your shield up, you feed into your scared self.
Michelle thinks back on leaders that she looks up to. She saw their vulnerability and made up a story that they are authentic, which makes her feel trust toward them. When the shield is down, you can see the real person.
Join us to hear how understanding the idea of “self talk” — and what you can do about it — could change your relationships and life for the better.