One month ago, I enrolled in a Bachelor of Psychology at Uni and since then I have experienced a LOT of fear.

Humans feel fear as a result of our thoughts, the sequence for feeling goes…
1. We experience something (enrolling in Uni)
2. We think something loving (Sparky) or fearful (Shady) in our subconscious and/or conscious (shit what am I doing?) then
3. We feel something (fear!)
Feelings are a physiological response to thoughts!

When you say your fearful thoughts out loud or write them down you can pull up a whole heap of Shady thoughts from your subconscious that you didn’t even know you had. This is healthy if you are willing to look at these thoughts, express the bad feelings that accompany them, let the thoughts go and replace them with empowering thoughts, but NOT at all healthy if you just brood on them!

Anyway, here are some of my Shady thoughts on going back to Uni…

“I can’t believe I’m starting all over again!
What if I find out that something about Sparky and Shady (S & S) is wrong or contradictory to psychological evidence?
I have to cut back on teaching S & S to do this – that’s not good, I’ve just spent 5 years building it up and am finally earning an income.
I don’t have an extra 20 hrs a week to do this.
I won’t be able to spend the time I want to spend studying to ensure I get High Distinctions.
I am worried about money, and Uni cost thousands of dollars – what am I doing?
What do I think I’m doing, I’m bloody 48!
What if I don’t continue with S & S as a result of my learning, what if I go off on some random tangent instead? What a waste of 26 years of learning and hard work!
What if I decide on doing honours and a PhD? As if I won’t? That’s another bloody 5 years fulltime on top of the 4 years part time I’ve just committed to!
I think I am mad.
Why can’t I be content in a day job that I turn up to do and then go home from and then get 12 weeks bloody holiday (like my old teaching job)?
Am I a sucker for hardship? Challenge?
When will I ever earn a comparative wage to teaching again and when will I get to do nothing?
What the hell am I doing?”
And the list goes on…

Physically in the last month I’ve also had the flu (I never get the flu) and an absolute ripper of a cold sore! After some serious procrastination, I practiced what I preach and took a long, hard Pit Stop (it is basically the process I outlined above to get Shady thoughts and feelings out of my subconscious). After listening to Shady and writing it all down, and after a massive cry, I asked Sparky, “What now?” which means, “Do you have any words of wisdom for me?” and here’s what Sparky said…

“The FEAR you are feeling is ‘good’! It is a signal that you are learning and growing. Explore the fear, let it in, feel it (like you just did) and now you can move on knowing that you are on the right path. The fear you feel when you are learning, growing and following your dreams is like a gate on a path – you have to open it and walk through it before you can close it behind you. You are on the right path, just keep going!”

I also got a specific list of actions to take which included:
• Keep doing the online video course for kids and big kids, the program works, get it out there to families!
• Meet with the Director of Education in Coffs Harbour and let her know I am going to keep approaching local Principals in schools to enhance kids’ wellbeing (I will not give up!)
• Enjoy Uni! I love learning, I love research, I love evidence. Drop back to one unit for now so I can enjoy it and ease my way in. There is no race to finish, I can and will make a difference on the way.
• Re-read Susan Jeffers, ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway!’
• Keep going!

Yippee! I love Sparky’s wisdom! It was Susan’s book that inspired me to write this post but instead of re-reading it, I bought the audio book and listened to it twice, once while I cleaned the house and again while I walked the dog (nice time management hey)?

If you haven’t read it – grab it, it is wonderful! You can get the audio version here if you are seriously keen https://www.audible.com.au/

Anyway, Susan’s message is that the presence of fear in our lives is an indicator that we are growing and accepting life’s challenges, so when we feel afraid of new things that we know are right for us – just feel the fear and do it anyway!

Susan also talks about the biggest fear we have is that we won’t be able to handle something. For instance, we won’t be able to handle; the loss of income if we quit a job we hate, the loss of a partner if we leave a relationship that obviously isn’t working, the loss of comfort and routine if we shake our life up by making a big change that we know would be good for us. To embrace our fear and walk through the gate or door we simply need to believe that we CAN handle anything good or bad that comes our way.

My personal take on that is that you can live your life with the REGRET of not making the changes you know are needed (which lasts the rest of your life) or you can live your life with the FEAR of making the change (which lasts for the transition of the change)! I know which feeling I would prefer!

Another lesson I have learnt is that you will never be completely READY. You will never have all those Shady worries taken care of and sorted out – that’s the list you have to tick off before you can make the change. Shady will always think of another reason why you shouldn’t do it. Shady doesn’t like change, Shady doesn’t like ‘new’, Shady doesn’t like risk, Shady doesn’t like the possibility of imminent failure!

I teach kids it is important to listen to Shady, to love Shady, to respect Shady’s fears – which it absolutely right, because Shady is an important part of us that protects us not only from getting hurt but from doing dumb stuff too (like leaving a job without financial support, like leaving a partner without seriously considering if it is the right thing to do, like following a dream without a plan).

When you embrace your fear, you are willing to explore it, you are willing to listen to all Shady’s worries and consider them, you are willing to express your feelings so the energy of fear can leave you. Then when you are done with the fear it is time to listen to Sparky, and ask, “What now?” which means, “Now that I have heard and felt my fear what do I do?” Your inner wisdom will tell you what to do next, if Shady had some valid points Sparky will agree and include the solution to these worries in his or her advice to you (for me, it was to drop back to one unit of study for example).

Finally, once you have opened the gate and walked through it, you can let it shut behind you! You did it! You are on a new adventure in your life that will bring you love, happiness and fulfillment while you make a loving difference to others along the way!

Feel the fear and do it anyway! Susan Jeffers you made your difference in my life – thank you!

Love Kathy

Upcoming events – After School Classes for Big Kids (9-12yrs) start next Wednesday 1st August 4pm – 5.15pm at the Coffs Harbour Showground and go for nine weeks. If you have a child going to high school next year, this is a FANTASTIC way to empower them to cope with any problem they may come up against! Yell out if you would like to join us, remember if you have been before it is half price – more info here sparkyandshady.com/classes/