Guest blog by Charlotte Winters
Charlotte Winters is an award-winning writer and life coach. For TV and film, she writes off-beat comedies and dramas featuring smart and sassy females in morally-ambiguous worlds. Having graduated Vassar with a BA in Theater and UCLA with an MFA in Screenwriting, Charlotte has written more than a dozen TV, film, and theater scripts and associate produced a History Channel show.
She believes in goal-setting for creatives because, for her, setting and achieving goals isn’t so much about accomplishing tasks as it’s going on little adventures. She attributes her unique point of view to her upbringing; as a dual Danish-American citizen, she was raised by older, non-conventional parents in northern suburban New Jersey.
How I Discovered A Simple Process for Managing Fear
When I stepped off the Norwegian Airlines flight on that blazing July day in 2017, an already uncertain journey continued its next, most difficult leg. The sun seared my overstuffed navy duffel as we boarded the shuttle taking us to customs. The air-conditioning and a surface to lean on relieved me. But my throat remained parched. My head ached.
I was scared.
Coming from Copenhagen, I had gone through LAX customs many times before. In fact, I was coming home on this day to resume my Southern Californian life as a Hollywood freelancer. There was, however, a notable difference from previous trips. This time, I was tasked with managing my 91-year-old American expat father’s daily affairs... from 9,000 miles away.
Nine months prior, my beloved Danish mother had passed away. After her unexpected death from leukemia/lymphoma, I had taken most of the year off to care for my frail father in his apartment. During this time, I learned everything I could about his options and what he needed on a daily basis.
I created a plan in which we hired an in-home nurse to visit him several times a week, prepare his meals, do his laundry, manage his healthcare, and provide him company. Denmark being Denmark, he’d also receive daily visits from the municipality’s hjemmepleje (home healthcare workers), a Life Alert bracelet, and health care - all of which were free. The plan, for the most part, was solid and well thought-out.
But anything could happen.
Dad didn’t speak Danish. Prone to falls, he had broken his hip three months prior. And because my mother had done so much in the house, he even had trouble answering the phone (which he didn’t always hear). I knew there would be a lot to manage. And although we checked background records, we were putting an immense amount of trust into strangers’ hands.
As I waited in line at the Enterprise rental counter (oh yeah, my Civic’s engine died while I was gone), I blinked back tears. My mind spun. Before my mother’s death, I had been successfully freelancing at Warner Bros. and tutoring. What if there was no work upon my return?
My brain served up two horrible options:
- I’d end up living in a cardboard box in Pacoima; or
- I’d be heading back to a hostage situation in Denmark... only to fail to resolve it and then return to SoCal to live in my Pacoima box.
(Hey, I’m half-Danish, so when I go dark, I go DARK.)
I pulled myself together enough to rent a red Ford and drive home. And I made it. Encounter by encounter, circumstance by circumstance, I noticed that life clicked back into place.
You know what?
My fears didn’t come to pass.
Within days, I was back to work at WB and had tutees. My Dad’s homecare plan didn’t just work out, it went gangbusters. We loved and trusted the in-home nurse so much that we practically adopted her into our family (and vice versa).
In other words, nothing horrible happened! All of that mind drama in the LAX Enterprise rental car line was for naught!
So, What Did I Learn?
After noticing my thought patterns for weeks, I began to recognize and manage my fear in three simple steps. Here they are:
Charlotte’s Jedi Mind Trick for Managing Fear
- Before you do something that raises your blood pressure, visualize the scenario of what you think is going to happen. Go all out. What’s the worst scenario that’s playing out? Write it down.
- Then, complete that task and observe the details of what actually happens. Write that down.
- Compare #1 to #2.
You might laugh at what you find.
Putting it Into Practice
If you hold many fears and anxieties, start with something small (and always use common sense).
For instance, if you’re a newer coach afraid to find pro bono clients in Facebook groups, you may want to check the rules of that group first. If it’s all clear, then use the 3-step process when making your post. Getting responses isn’t as important as comparing what you think is going to happen to what actually does.
Once posting in a Facebook group becomes no big deal, use this 3-step process to tackle a slightly bigger fear. And so on and so forth.
Although useful, this exercise neither eradicates fear nor does it always prevent negative predictions from coming true. In our uncertain world, fear’s main purpose is to protect us. But if you haven’t already noticed, many hard things in life (i.e., global pandemics) are usually unexpected; we often can’t predict them. (I know, comforting, right?)
Experiencing the pain of the unexpected heightens our general anxiety level to create new false narratives in our heads.
When you can identify and bring these fears under control and see that, as Seneca noted, “we suffer more often in imagination than in reality,” you increase your capacity to serve more, give more, and be more in life.
Want to Become A Coach?
One of our values at Lumia is that we dare to be different. Our coaches like Charlotte ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like some partners in the process, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.