What is your scary word?
My friend and colleague Shawna is convinced that we all have one.
At a retreat that I led in my hometown recently, we asked every woman to share her personal “scary word.”
The word that you are afraid people will call you when you’re not looking or listening, behind your back—or worse, right to your face.
The words came pouring out.
Stories came pouring out, too. Stories about “the moment” when that word first became so scary (“When mom told me that…” “When my ex accused me of…” “The first time I ever got scolded for…”)
Stories about all of the elaborate steps that each woman had taken to shield herself from ever having to hear her scariest word.
I’ve heard hundreds of similar “self-protection” stories before. Stories like…“If I stay at my secure job—even though I hate every minute of it—then nobody can accuse me of being unstable or flakey.”
“If I get my PhD—even though I don’t really want to do the program—then nobody can call me stupid or inadequate.”
“If I dress like this—even though I don’t particularly like these clothes—then nobody will think I’m a whore.”
Problem is, when you make choices coming from a place of fearful self-protection—trying to shield yourself
from ever having to hear your scary word—there are some pretty disastrous side effects. Side effects like: being stuck in a career you don’t enjoy, wearing clothes you don’t like, being inside in a marriage that’s not right for you, committed to projects that drain you, and on, and on. All because you don’t want to be labeled [insert scary word here].
Bottom line: when your choices are driven by fear—the fear of hearing a particularly scary word,fear of rejection, fear of public humiliation, fear of failure, fear of success, or any type of fear—the outcome is never pleasant.
What types of choices are you making to try to protect yourself from hearing your scary word? How’s that working out for you?
You know what’s REALLY scary? Spending 70-100 years trapped in a life that’s not the life you yearn to be living, spending your precious time doing things you don’t want to be doing, ignoring your genuine callings and passions, half-alive, stuck, and unsatisfied. That situation is scarier than an entire book of scary words. Think about it.
Maybe it’s time to stop letting one word rule your life.
Maybe it’s time to stop worrying about what other people may or may not say about you.
Maybe it’s time for a new set of words that you say to yourself—about yourself—regardless of what anybody else thinks. Words like: Authentic. Courageous. Creative. Daring. Brilliant. Wise.
In my opinion, there is ONE WORD that describes every single woman who is willing to stare down her scary words, face her worst fears, and take action to construct her dream life anyway. That word is: BRAVE.
(Brave, and also, two more words: MY HERO.)
PS. I run a program/community filled with brave women who are working, side by side, to build their dream lives and careers. This is an energizing space where women learn how to speak up,stand tall, and fiercely go after what they want. A place where “scary words” just don’t feel so scary anymore because you’ve got a coach and an entire squad of girlfriends right by your side. #WeGotYourBack
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