Some of the most helpful self-help writers of our generation are gung-ho advocates for embracing fear. It's been said that fear is like a compass, pointing us in the direction we need to go. It's our body's way of giving us a signal that something really matters. In many ways, the feeling of fear is really helpful because it signals our opportunities to grow.
HOWEVER: not all fear signals positive opportunities for growth. Sometimes, fear is like a red light, telling us we shouldn't move toward an opportunity, but away from it. This kind of fear tries to tell us "stupid move, stay away!" but what about when it feels the exact same as the good stuff? Butterflies in your stomach and / or barf impulses, clawing in your chest, superfast heart, preteen cyberzone dance sweaty palms, etc.)
How do you tell the difference between the green-light, positive fear and red-light, stupid-move-stay-away fear? Business mentor / boss lady Marie Forleo has two pro strategies to help you tell the difference. It all starts in paying attention to the bod.
Tip 1: Access your "natural knowing" through your body's reaction
Your "natural knowing" is a bit like your intuition (your accumulated experiences and knowledge). You can tap into it through paying attention to how your body reacts when you think of the opportunity in question. Forleo says there are two reactions you can have: expansive or contracted. Expansive reactions are when your shoulders open up, you sit up straight, you feel relaxed and open. These reactions are good – they're telling you to move forward.
Contracted responses are when your body feels like it "pulling in." So, maybe you lips pursing, your head pulls down, your try to make yourself physically smaller. These contracted responses are your gut telling you it's not right. If you have expansive reactions, even if there's fear involved, it's a good sign. You go girl!
Tip 2: Ask your (most honest and supportive) friends to talk about the thing in question, and ask them to pay attention to your body and facial reactions
When people talk about their ideas and the things they want to do, their bodies and energy don't lie, regardless of their words. If the thing in question really isn't for you, it'll show on your face and body language when you talk about it. Your face might get pasty and white and you'll look drained of energy. Your shoulders might slump or you might start to figit awkwardly.
If you react this way, (and get your friend to clue you in), it's likely this is a thing you feel like you "should" do, (maybe to prove someone wrong, to live up to someone's expectations, maybe to "be better" than someone … ) but ultimately, you just don't really want to it.
The more comfortable you are being honest with your friend, the more you'll be able to express yourself.
It may not always be easy to tell if something is "the right thing," especially if there are ego-gremlins of "should do" haunting you for whatever reason (and we all have them), bottom line is, if it's a real dream, a real desire, a real, authentic want, your body's response can be a quick route to your answer, especially when your head is confused.