Episode 17: Why we need to lean into fear to unlock our greatest potential.

Episode 16 Leaning into Fear with Sebastian Koellner Interview

An interview with Sebastian Koellner – Chief Mindsetter

Hello Friends, do you struggle with procrastination and imposter syndrome? Do you feel there got to be something more to your life?

In this episode of the Becoming Mindful Podcast, Jackie and Maria interview Chief Mindsetter Sebastian on why fear is holding you back and how and why to lean into fear or be stuck in the status quo.

If this spoke to you, please let us know. Reach out to us with any follow up questions this talk has brought up.

We hope you will join us again next episode. Until then,

Be well friends!

Show Notes & Links

If you are looking for a Rapid Transformational Therapy trained therapist, check out: https://professionals.rtt.com/

Want to take a look at your “Inner Board of Directors” aka Saboteurs? Take the FREE Assessment here: https://assessment.positiveintelligence.com/saboteur/overview (btw: Sebastian includes the Positive Intelligence Program by Shirzad – a $1,000 value – for all his 1:1 clients)

You need quick hacks to overcome procrastination right now? Get Sebastian’s Guide: “3 Secrets to Taking Empowered Action – Even When You Don’t FEEL Like It” for FREE here: https://chiefmindsetter.com/secrets_to_empowered_action

You want to explore more from Chief MindSetter Sebastian? Get 1 MindSet hack to grow your business every Monday AM straight to your inbox: join the Money Freedom MindSet Newsletter https://chiefmindsetter.com/joinmfmnewsletter

Got a question or want to explore coaching with Chief MindSetter Sebastian?
Connect via LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chiefmindsetter
Email: sebastian (at) chiefmindetter.com


E17 – Leaning into Fear with Sebastian Koellner

Maria: Hello and welcome to the Becoming Mindful Podcast. Today we have a special guest, Sebastian, who will talk to us about leaning into fear. I am Maria,

Jackie: and I am Jackie, and we are becoming mindful.

Maria: Okay, let’s get started. For our new guest that we have here today, I would like you, Sebastian, to introduce yourself a little bit to our listeners and tell us what you do.

Sebastian: All right. Happy to. I got about an hour to do that, right? No, just kidding. So here’s the short elevator version of what I do and then we can dive into the details. I work with coaches, entrepreneurs, and executives as well. And the way I describe what I do tongue in cheek is I help them cheat, lie and steal back their own mind.

Sebastian: Because we all have those voices in our head, right? That internal board of directors that gets us to procrastinate, to please others, or to try and to do everything perfect. There’s a lot of variation to that. And all of that comes on the one hand from our greatest strengths, but when we let it run rampant, if you will, when we let board of directors internally be run by our inner critic, it often gets in the way of what we’re trying to do.

Sebastian: And for my clients, that means they’re not creating the impact and the income they want from their business and from their career. And I help ’em eliminate the blocks that prevent them from taking the actions that they know would get them to the next level consistently.

Sebastian: And I do that with a focus on money stories as well as self-worth as well as leadership challenges depending on what the Individual situation calls for. And I do it virtually via Zoom because I reside in Germany, I do have an American passport as well, and my clients go all the way to the West coast in the States and all the way to Nepal on the other side of the world.

Sebastian: So, thanks to Zoom, not a plug for them, use any software that you like to do that. But I get to work with amazing individuals all over the world, and I am having a blast.

Maria: That’s wonderful. Just like you do with us today because we are not on the same continent at the moment.

Sebastian: Nope, we’re not.

Jackie: Oh, that’s really exciting work.

Jackie: How did you find yourself into this kind of work? How did you get to this place?

Sebastian: I think for a lot of, generalizing here, for a lot of us coaches, It’s that we’ve gone through our own journey. And for myself it was if you had met me in my twenties or before you would’ve met someone who was driven, who achieved things, who graduated top of his class, who was really good at athletics, went on to university, again striving to be valedictorian and all of that.

Sebastian: And what you would’ve not seen is how exhausting that was. On the inside. It took me years to figure out that my drive to do better was really driven by fear. Fear of failure, ironically, fear of success, and most importantly, fear of particularly negative emotions. And it affected every part of my life.

Sebastian: Yeah, sure. If I set a goal, I went and accomplished it. But at what price? It affected my relationships, and I was in my mid-thirties before I realized that something was severely wrong because I had my third child on the way, and I was not excited. And I love children and I love my children.

Sebastian: And realizing that had me fully come to terms with: “something is off, and something has been off for quite a while”. And to this day, I don’t know how I found this particular guided meditation, but I got to a guided meditation by Marissa Pier and at the end of it, out of nowhere, I was bawling. I was crying on my living room floor.

Sebastian: The guy who would’ve sworn he doesn’t have emotions got totally dissolved in emotions. I had somehow connected to memories from when I was a year, a year and a half old, and a trauma that appeared back then something I didn’t even have words for, but the emotions were all still there. And in that moment, I realized that everything I had done up to that point in my life was in one way, shape, or form, just to prove that I actually was lovable.

Sebastian: And when I got up, I had another really pivotal moment. I went to the bathroom to wash off my face and dry my face. And I had this sensation of, for the first time I actually recognized the face in the mirror as being me not that strange guy that I was shaving every morning for a number of years at that point.

Sebastian: And for me, that’s when I realized, wow, that’s powerful and that’s what I want to do for other people. So, I went and studied with Marissa, learned rapid transformational therapy, and everybody in the training program, which was a yearlong, asked, “oh, what kind of therapist are you gonna be?” And I always said, “I’m not gonna be a therapist.”

Sebastian: They’re like, “well, what are you gonna do here?” I’m a coach and I want this in my toolbox because I realized that all this subconscious programming that we have, all those stories we carry around, they affect every part of our lives, and we don’t even know it. It’s like living in the matrix and I want to help people break out of that and take themselves to a new level of freedom and actually remember who they truly are. And that’s what got me passionate. That’s what got me started. And eventually that’s what I turned into my business.

Jackie: That’s really beautiful and that resonates so much with me as well. I hear a lot of my own story in there and I think it’s a really common story.

Jackie: But that part where you realize what’s behind it and that motivation behind it, I think that’s the part where a lot of us need some help and understanding. Like you said, you’re so driven and you’re accomplishing so much and then for so many of us, we wonder why it’s so hard and draining and all the things that are happening on the inside.

Jackie: At least for me, it felt like it was such a stark difference between, what I was projecting out to the world. And so, for me, I think, mindfulness and meditation helped to illuminate that for me. And it sounds like that’s one of the catalysts for you as well.

Jackie: This is such an important practice and work. So, I’m so glad that you found, that you had that realization, that you had that moment.

Sebastian: Maybe we’ll make this practical. There’s nothing wrong with striving. I mean, I have, you know, expectations. I set goals for my business now, but it’s the subtle difference between am I doing this out of passion and because I want to or am I still trying to prove something. Or am I still living to someone else’s ideals, and I couldn’t even name that someone else. And I think what you mentioned there, Jackie, is this: the more awareness you have for what’s going on in your body, the more you can realize, am I in alignment or am I not, right?

Sebastian: And you touched on another one. Especially for people who have a very strong hyper achiever running the boardroom, here’s the other thing: when you then actually achieve that thing, somehow it is not really as joyful or as happy as you thought it would be, right?

Sebastian: Because then right away it gets to, well, if I could do it, someone else could. Right? Or what’s next? Or whatever. Right? We don’t even spend the time to acknowledge and to celebrate it. And if that’s where you find yourself, you’re welcome to reach out to me or to someone else, but just realize that it’s normal in the way of, so many of us live that way, but that actually comes from a place where (strong hypothesis) you’re driven by one of those saboteurs rather than being in alignment. Chances are at some level underneath that, there’s a strong fear, one that you probably pushed away for a long time. And if you want to lean into that, yes, it can get quite uncomfortable. At the same time, just speaking from my own journey, was it painful in parts? Yes. Did it take energy and, and a lot of work? Yes. And on the other side of that is the thing that you’re striving for right now, you can actually have it. And so, I guess that’s why we want to talk about how to make fear your friend and how to lean into fear, won’t we?

Jackie: Right.

Maria: Yeah. And you touched on this already, that this striving or your drive to action, where does it come from? What’s underlying it? And kind of the difference between, having someone in the background of your mind, like an inner critic or you called it a board of directors, I guess, make these decisions versus what you are looking for. Kind of this fear-based goals versus let’s call ’em dream-based goals. Right? What do you want out of your life? How do you wanna feel in your life? What’s important to you versus what the world, the society, your fear, maybe your childhood, maybe your parent, somewhat, right? Maybe it’s the voice of your parent telling you needs to happen. Where do you need to go? How do you need to be? Or what’s important, right?

Jackie: It’s coming from external sources.

Maria: Versus internal. I find that. True to me as well because, similar to Jackie, and this is why we’re doing this podcast as well, is this came up for me as well. That’s why I was particularly interested in mindfulness.

Maria: And it also intersected with my studies into gentle parenting. And a lot of those Topics come up as well. Where do you get your drive from? I’d like to talk a little bit more about what you said about the internal board of directors and the inner critic.

Maria: Because I think that’s very important. You also called it saboteur. If you can hone in on that a little bit and tell our listeners a little bit more about that, that would be great.

Sebastian: So full disclosure, while I coined the board of directors and I have my own bit of fun with it.

Sebastian: There, the credit really goes to Shahzad Shamim over at Stanford. Like they’ve done factor analysis, they’ve done a lot of research into performance psychology, positive psychology, and if you want more on that, I went through their program, it’s great, go check it out.

Sebastian: They have a saboteur assessment where you, within two minutes, can really get a sense of what are your top saboteurs. Now, what is a saboteur? Essentially, I like to describe it this way. It is your learned defense mechanism, usually against negative emotions and or childhood trauma. And trauma doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve had a traumatic childhood or that your parents were abusive or any of that.

Sebastian: We all depend for our survival, not just on food, shelter and clothing, but also on emotional stability. And at some point, or another, we all experienced emotional disappointment. And that’s the kind of pain that does leave a bit of a scar, a bit of a wound. And you know, when you break your arm as a child, they put a cast on you.

Sebastian: Well, these days, not as badly anymore as previously as I’ve just experienced with my daughter, but basically, they put a cast on your arm. Six weeks later, they take off the cast because the bone is healed. You do your physical therapy, and a couple of weeks after it’s all long forgotten and gone.

Sebastian: Essentially, any one of those deeper emotional wounds, you also put on a cast, and here’s the thing: we never learn how to take them back off and how to outgrow that scar. So, when you look at what is a saboteur, when I talked about the hyper achiever, right, there’s overly driven achiever. What’s underneath that?

Sebastian: Underneath that is my greatest strengths. I am driven, I am intrinsically motivated. I love making things better. But the hyper achiever takes that to an extreme where it says, “if I do things perfectly, if I do things just right, then you know, whatever, they will love me, or then I will get appreciation, or then I will feel something or the other”.

Sebastian: Okay? So, this is where it becomes dysfunctional, right? Hence the term saboteur. And in one way or another, we all have learned patterns of behavior that protect us from real or imagined emotional pain. And that’s the saboteurs. And you can basically categorize them in nine different types. And this is where if you’re, we can just share the link.

Sebastian: It’s free. And you can just take a look at what are your patterns. And you might recognize just from looking over your top two saboteurs, a lot of behaviors and sort of false promises that show up in your personal relationships, that show up in business and that show up in other areas of your life.

Sebastian: And it can be quite insightful. And why I call it the board of directors is because I don’t want to kick ’em out. Right? Underneath every one of those is your greatest strength. You probably all know someone like that who is always more than eager to or happy to please others. That is great, right?

Sebastian: That comes from a high value on caring and compassion. Likely also comes with a very intuitive read of other people and what they need. That is a fantastic strength. Every team needs someone like that on the team. Where it becomes a saboteur that we would call a pleaser is when that person ignores their own needs, ignores their own boundaries, right?

Sebastian: Goes to great lengths in order to please others, and thereby, basically surrenders the self. That’s what becomes dysfunctional. Okay? So, do we wanna do away with the caring and the compassion? No. We want to just take it back to the level of that healthy caring and compassion and address the, for want of a better term, dysfunctional, overly protective that comes from: “well, if I don’t make him happy, then they might not like me or then any number of things might go wrong”.

Sebastian: Why do we have that? Because innate is that inner critic or the judge. That sentinel, that checks for what could go wrong. The one that finds what’s wrong with us, what’s wrong with the situation, what’s wrong with others. Why? Because if we didn’t have it, we would’ve not survived.

Sebastian: Right? There was a time when things could kill us if we made a mistake. There was a time when leaving the tribe, was pretty close to a death sentence. Our brain hasn’t caught onto the fact though that a contentious interaction with a coworker isn’t gonna kill us. Right? But it still operates from that same level of fear, and that is why we have such strong responses to negative emotions and trying to avoid them.

Maria: Yeah, it’s like a survival instinct, right?

Sebastian: Exactly right. And it really helps to realize that to your mind, if you are afraid of a social interaction, if you’re afraid of rejection, to your mind, that old survival part of your brain, it is a question of life or death. Now, rationally, you know, it’s not. But at that level of functioning, that’s what it is.

Maria: So, absolutely, and we’ve heard that in many variations before. Your brain at that level doesn’t know reality from imagination. One great example that I always love, which is the opposite of this, but it’s also the same is: if you’ve heard about laughing meditation where you essentially laugh, a fake laugh for a while and your body will interpret it as a real laugh and we’ll start laughing. It’s a similar thing where the interpretation of your body and your kind of survival mind interprets the situation: is it safe or is it not safe? Right?

Sebastian: That is the practical application of that. And from what you’ve said, I would expand on that in one little aspect, Maria that is the beauty. In any situation, your mind does not know the difference between something you imagine and something that is actually happening. Which means when you know how to, you always have a choice, which world do you want to live in?

Sebastian: You always have that choice because your mind doesn’t know the difference, right? It’s the story. It’s the interpretation you put on it that makes it a scary thing or an exciting thing, right? Look at how we talk about it, right? ” How are you doing? Oh, my job is killing me.”

Sebastian: I mean, watch your language, right? You mind absolutely believes every word you say whether it’s out loud or quietly in your head. This is what I learned from really studying how the subconscious works. If you look at something as this is killing me, your mind goes, “oh, Jesus, maybe we gotta get out of this. We’re gotta make you sick, we gotta save you somehow”. And your mind gets real creative about dealing with that. Right. And often we don’t pay attention to even those subtle things. And they do have a tremendous impact. So where do you start? Just create awareness.

Sebastian: This whole topic here is mindfulness and for me it starts from awareness.

Jackie: Yeah. I think that’s definitely something that anyone on a mindfulness journey or beginning these practices that we’ve talked about here on the podcast, definitely encounter. You run into those knots that you’re talking about, those saboteurs.

Jackie: As you start to allow that awareness to come up and start to listen to the things you’re telling yourself that have become these truths that maybe need to be dismantled or understood differently? I guess what I’m asking is: when you get to those points, when you encounter those saboteurs, that fear is gonna arise back up, right?

Jackie: Because we’ve learned to be afraid or we’ve learned that survival instinct, so maybe our fight or flight kicks in and we realize that there’s this threat, imagined or real, that we’ve uncovered in our minds that is driving us somehow.

Jackie: How do we lean into that? How do we get past that saboteur? How do we beat it? What’s the approach for leaning into that fear?

Sebastian: I love the question and I think there might be some follow up questions and various different avenues to respond to that. If we start from the saboteurs. Okay?

Sebastian: This is why I said let’s share the link and let everyone who wants to take a look and just become aware of what are your top one or two saboteurs. Because then you can start to recognize that in my mind, for example, it’s not really my thought that: “I either do it perfectly or not at all.” right? That’s my hyper achiever talking.

Sebastian: And what can create the space for awareness is if you simply recognize the thought and literally label it as, in my case, I dub my hyper achiever, Mr. Perfect. So, I would say, “oh, here we go. Mr. Perfect says, this was a shitty, pardon in my French, presentation I gave.”

Sebastian: Or, at the end of this podcast, inevitably, Mr. Perfect is going to say, “dude, you messed up. A lot of your answers should have been better.” Right? Now, if I just myself sit there and think, dude, I messed up. I should have been better, then this really does something with me. But if I recognize that this is really my hope achiever, my Mr. Perfect talking, I can say, “Mr. Perfect says, I should have done better. ” And then by creating that separation between that thought and me, I can then look at it and decide, okay, what am I gonna do about it? On the one hand, yes, I will do a discernment of what might I do differently next time, but without beating myself up.

Sebastian: On the other hand, the way you can then use that space, and Maria alluded to this, right, when you really work with your body and when you really become present there, this is where then you can, for example, focus on your breath or rub the tips of your fingers together and really just focus on that sensation.

Sebastian: Anything that takes you out of those spinning thoughts in your head and back into the present moment. In your present moment, as I’m sure you’ve shared in a number of episodes from various different angles, is best experienced in the physical here and now. So anytime I drop into my body, I drop out of that thought carousel that is otherwise spinning. And then I can step back and say, “well, okay, there’s a few things I might do differently next time, but overall, I’m quite happy with the conversation” just to round up this example here.

Sebastian: And if you do this, as anything, consistency is key. Over time. What you’re essentially doing is you’re establishing a new neural pathway. Because here’s another image of those saboteurs. Consider that roughly 90, maybe 95% of your day you’re spending on autopilot. Everything that you’ve turned into a habit is something you don’t have to think about anymore.

Sebastian: We couldn’t function any other way. But right now, your top saboteurs are hammering down at a hundred miles an hour on a five-lane freeway. Okay? And you wanna basically stop that and redirect them. So, any time you catch it and you label it, you basically put a traffic light on that freeway and say, stop.

Sebastian: Right? Let’s hold on for a second. You know what? I have a little detour for you. And that’s that new alternative way of looking at it or that alternative way of acting. And of course, it takes repetition to build that small little side road into that new freeway that you want the autopilot to go on. But over time you can build that.

Sebastian: Now, here’s one of the keys. Some people say you can disconnect neural pathways, right? And just string some new ones on there. I personally don’t have that image. I think that old five lane freeway then becomes more of an overgrown back road. But every so often, a smell, a memory, something or the other might trigger you.

Sebastian: And here you are back on this road, right, because it’s still there. But your focus is on where do I want to go? And if you want to do yourself a big favor, then the habit you build is maybe one of gratitude, maybe one of breathing, maybe one of any number of things that help you to be present in the here and now, because what’s a fun way of defining fear False evidence appearing real. In other words, your survival brain making up stuff that could go wrong, but in all likelihood never would. Okay. So that would be the first part of the answer. How are we doing, Jackie?

Jackie: Yeah, that’s great. I love the imagery that you’ve presented. And I think the big takeaway from that is, we really want to be interrupting those autopilots as you say, that we’re on. Interrupting them and disconnecting ourselves. As you know, we’ve talked about a lot on this podcast is disconnecting ourselves from the story that we’re telling and coming into the present moment to realize when those patterns that we’ve created or truths that we’ve accepted, we can reassess them by bringing in a breath practice or, like you said, a gratitude practice or something to interrupt that autopilot and give us a moment to reassess and understand what’s really happening.

Jackie: And maybe we can, as you said, build a new pathway. I tend to agree that those old ideas never go away. But you can look at ’em a little differently. Right? As you said, they get a little grown over and then they look different. You can see them in a new light.

Jackie: So yeah, I think that’s a really beautiful way to put it.

Sebastian: Can I add two cautionary notes for anyone who takes the assessment or just pays attention to this? Two things. One is as you pay attention, our mind works in beautiful ways. It has the same effect as when you’re thinking about buying a new car.

Sebastian: All of a sudden you see this car everywhere, right? Just because you’ve now told your reticular activating system, i.e., your own matrix, which filters everything, what to look for. Now when you now start, and a lot of my clients go through this, especially in the first couple of weeks of working on this: “like, oh, this is getting worse”. I’m like, “it’s not really getting worse. You’re just now paying attention to it.” Right? And once you see it, you can’t unsee it anymore, right?

Sebastian: So that’s the one cautionary note on that. And the other is: you’re dealing essentially here with the survival part of your brain, so your critic and your saboteurs, right? Those learned behaviors, they’re gonna fight you tooth and nail every step of the way. Because, if we treat them as though they were a person their self-understanding of their role is to protect you. Right? And if you push them out, they’re like, “oh, you are walking straight into danger, dude. What are you doing?” Okay? So, there is gonna be a lot of resistance to that.

Sebastian: That doesn’t mean. That you can’t do it, and that doesn’t mean that your inner critic is right about you. It just means that you’ve built up a muscle there that is very strong and that you’ve practiced a hundred thousand times, and probably more often, depending on how old you are, but you’ve practiced it for decades, right?

Sebastian: So, you’re now addressing deeply rooted patterns and behaviors. So just be prepared for that as you embark on that.

Jackie: And having compassion too for yourself because there was a reason that you created those pathways. There was some kind of instinct that sent you down that path that maybe you need to reassess, but there was a reason there and just being compassionate with yourself for creating those pathways.

Jackie: And maybe you’ve healed from them now and you can move on but, there was a reason at the time.

Maria: There’s kind of the twofold here. One is, recognizing that these pathways or these patterns, the saboteurs themselves, is something that is not you, that’s something you created over time, right? It is not you when you are talking to yourself, it is that pattern or that protection, coping mechanism pretty much, that was created. So, it also can be changed.

Maria: But I think the other thing we need to look at is: we don’t really wanna beat them, right? They have a function and they’re there for good reason. And that’s where I wanted to add to Jackie’s compassion statement is: do we wanna change the pathway? Yes. Do we want to work in a healthier way and don’t listen to our saboteurs all the time? Yes.

Maria: But do we need to get rid of them? Probably no. Right? We want to be compassionate with them.

Sebastian: Exactly. Right. And it’s very easy to fall into berating yourself even in the process of working on your judgment and your saboteurs, right? Anything from “how could I have let this go on for so long?” Well, that’s again self-judgment.

Sebastian: What I do with my clients is, I put you back in charge of your internal board room, of that meeting. And that means on the one hand, building the muscle to disrupt the pattern. So, to be able, quite frankly, to tell my Mr. Perfect to sit down and join the team or shut the F up because I got work to do, right?

Sebastian: That is a part of that. Why? Because I want them to be constructive members of my inner boardroom. Do I wanna throw all kinds of caution into the winds? Oh, no. Especially when you’re running a business. There is a time for due diligence. There is a time for playing through scenarios of what could go wrong so that I can plan and prepare for it. And there is a time to stop planning and preparing for it, and to start taking action.

Sebastian: And if you’ve ever wondered why you procrastinate on things that you actually had every intention of doing and that you know will move your business forward, and at the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of the month, at the end of the quarter, you still haven’t made any progress on it.

Sebastian: Chances are because at some level, you’re doubting yourself or you are afraid. Chances are also that in one way, shape, or form, the official reason you have for this, or I don’t know enough yet. I have to learn more. I need to plan this right. And that is where your saboteurs are showing.

Sebastian: And when you recognize that just as sort of the dynamic that we all have, then you can free yourself to check, and what is the underlying story? What is the underlying fear? What am I really afraid of? Where do I really doubt myself? And when you change that story, all of a sudden you realize, “no, I knew what to do all along. I was just afraid to do it.”

Maria: When you’re doing this work, at some point you probably also get to this point where you say, okay, I’m disrupting it. I’m listening, and I’m recognizing the saboteurs and I’m recognizing that there’s certain things that are not real fears that I don’t really have to worry about.

Maria: But obviously there’s situations where the fear is still important to keep your life or to prevent things. As you said, there is moments of due diligence. And I wonder if at some point you get into this conundrum of how do you know which is real and which isn’t, right?

Sebastian: Generally speaking, I think we wanna make a clear distinction here between, you know, being out in a dark alley, hearing something and physically feeling afraid. Right? Okay.

Sebastian: Judge the situation on its merit. Likewise heading out as a pedestrian into heavy traffic, clearly there are things there. .

Maria: Yeah. But talking about about a business, I think sometimes it becomes a little gray, right?

Sebastian: And this is where I would start from. There’s nothing wrong with you. Okay? I would start from set your goals good. And then the next exercise you want to do is list all your fears.

Sebastian: Okay. Because if you tell me there’s nothing, you’re afraid of, then either you’re completely disconnected from yourself and from what is going on. Or you’re overcompensating. Actually, I think now that we’re thinking about it, there’s a third option and that is you’re playing it safe, absolutely in your comfort zone doing something you’ve done a hundred times already. And I mean, what kind of boring business would that?

Sebastian: Because we are all hardwired such that as soon as you leave your comfort zone, as soon as you try something new, that survival part of your brain has a job to do, and that job is to ring the alarm bell and say, “dude you’re leaving the tribe, you’re leaving the cave. What are you doing? This might kill you.” Okay?

Sebastian: And no matter how much you dislike the status quo. At least it didn’t kill us yesterday. It didn’t kill us last week, so chances are it ain’t gonna kill us tomorrow either. This is why people stay in relationships longer than you know it’s good for them. This is why you all have a friend where when she introduces her new boyfriend, you look at each other and you go, but that is the exact same as the three bef…, have you not? Right? Why? Because familiarity means safety. As screwed up as that might sometimes be. Now, back to our example.

Sebastian: So as soon as I embark on something that really matters to me, I should be excited that there is fear, because why? Well, that tells me it’s something I care about and I’m venturing out of my comfort zone, right? Because if I stayed within my comfort zone, the level of fear would be significantly less because it just didn’t trigger anything.

Sebastian: And if it wasn’t important to me, likely also would mean I wasn’t afraid because if it wasn’t important to me, I simply would not care. So, this is where it’s a good thing that fear shows up, embrace it. It’s your friend. It’s just a signal that you’re doing something that matters and leaving your comfort zone. It’s supposed to be there.

Jackie: So, the difference between fear giving you that fuel to keep going versus, stopping you in your tract preventing you from moving forward. It sounds like that’s what your kind of getting at is taking that fear and understanding it and seeing it as what it is, a tool that you can use to help you move forward and lean in.

Sebastian: If you can create that level of awareness, yes. Because here the alternative: if you don’t recognize that fear, if it plays somewhere in the background, then you think you’re working on it, but your mind is gonna get all kinds of creative for keeping you busy with other things rather than working on that.

Sebastian: Procrastination for an entrepreneur or someone running their own business doesn’t look like scrolling through social media all day or lying on the beach drinking something, or just playing all day. No, no, no. Procrastination for an entrepreneur means if you ask them, they are busy as heck. They don’t even know where to start.

Sebastian: Just that at the end of the day, when they’re real honest, those are kind of the safer tasks. Those are kind of the busy tasks, and they’ve avoided the ones that would really move the needle. Why? Because there’s fear there and they didn’t even recognize it. This is very often a real hard pill to swallow, especially for senior execs, especially for founders or some of the other coaches I work with, because we’re like, “no, I’m passionate about this. I really want this.” I’m like, “yes. And have you acknowledged the fear that comes with.” “Well, …, I’m not afraid.” Like “Yeah, I used to say that too. For 35 years.” Sorry, know better. Right? If you’re not afraid…, we’ve went over this before.

Sebastian: So now when I open up to that fear, what can I do? I have this guide: three secrets to overcome procrastination that deals with various aspects of it, and maybe we can share this after.

Sebastian: But one of the fun things. When you have the wherewithal, the awareness, the mindfulness, that fear is just a normal part that comes with the territory. Now you can label it either as your saboteur talking or simply as, oh, there’s my survival brain thinking this is gonna kill us.

Sebastian: Well, okay. Thank you for sharing. And I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager and my mom told me about how I shouldn’t drink and how I shouldn’t do this and how I shouldn’t do that, what did I do? I said, yes, mom. And then I turned around and went and did it anyway.

Sebastian: And at a very fundamental level, the question isn’t, how do I get rid of fear? I don’t think you can. You’re hard wired. Well, unless you stay in your comfort zone. Right? But if you really wanna accomplish something, talk to people who’ve made it. And if they’re real honest, every time they try something new, they’re still scared shitless. Cause we’re hardwired that way.

Sebastian: So, the game isn’t, how do I get rid of fear? The game is, how do I use it as drive or fuel? Like you suggested Jackie, right? And at the very least, how do I take action anyway? Because the fact that there is fear doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it. It just means I’m human.

Jackie: At what point in this journey, as we’re starting to recognize fear and trying to understand why we’re stuck, is that the point when someone might find it opportunistic to reach out to you for your coaching?

Jackie: Or at what point might someone reach out to you and find some help from someone like yourself?

Sebastian: I love the clients who reach out and say, look, I know there’s fear playing. I want you to help me identify it and rip it out. I love those. Cause they already come with a certain level of awareness.

Sebastian: I think more often than not, it is also that it’s sort of like my own journey was, right? So, no judgment here. And that is, there is this less concrete, less specific sense. It’s this more underlying sense of, I dunno, is this really it? Right? Is is this all there is? I mean that’s the other thing.

Sebastian: If you avoid fear, if you avoid negative emotions, you can’t really enjoy the positive emotions either. So, life gets kinder, dull. And the sinister thing about that is you can stay in that stage for a long time because it’s comfortable misery.

Maria: For your whole life. If you want.

Sebastian: For your whole life if you choose to, and then I think one of two things might happen. Somebody might listen to a podcast like yours and get a new level of awareness. Somebody might have done a lot of self-development work and realized that there’s a reason top performers have a coach. It just makes you get there faster and deeper.

Sebastian: Do you need a coach? No. You can figure all this out by yourself, right? But having someone might just get you there, deeper, faster, might help you shine a light on a blind spot. Oftentimes though, I think it is in one way, shape, or form when the pain or the realization that this is costing me something, gets to the point where you know that you’re still afraid to do it, but you also just can’t not do it.

Sebastian: And so, I think it varies as to what triggers it. On the other hand, I think once you’ve done it and really put in some work, most people I know never stop. Because there is no silver bullet that solves it once and for all. There’s layers to peel back. And especially if you’re growing a business like most of my clients, what’s the point of solving one problem? So that you’re ready for the next bigger problem.

Sebastian: Life is not about not having any problems anymore. That’s called nirvana and happens in a different dimension. Life is about growth. Life is about solving problems. Life is about, growing yourself, and usually that happens through friction.

Maria: I would wager to say it only happens through friction.

Sebastian: Yes. And it definitely happens outside of your comfort zone. And we already touched on what happens as soon as you leave your comfort zone. Am I gonna take your fear away if you work with me? No, but I can give you tools to deal with it. And the way I describe the work: I can help you increase your fear.

Sebastian: Because that means you’re playing a bigger game. That means you are going further out of your comfort zone. That means you’re embracing the game of life that is growth and solving problems.

Sebastian: That’s what you wanna do? Call me. We need to have a conversation.

Jackie: Awesome. I was just gonna say that’s why mindfulness practices and building that awareness is a daily practice.

Jackie: It’s a lifelong daily practice because we keep living and we keep encountering situations and encountering fear. It’s not all one and done. It’s learning how to manage it on a daily basis through these practices. So, I’m so glad you said that.

Sebastian: And full disclosure, I have my own coaches.

Sebastian: Why? Because, yeah, I do this for others, but that doesn’t mean I took care of all my layers or all my blind spots. As I grow my business, I run into breaking points myself. Do I perfectly get through a whole week without ever procrastinating? I wish I did, but no, don’t. Now do I feel like I might have more awareness to at least know that something is going on and that it’s time to call one of my coaches or show up with this in one of my masterminds?

Sebastian: I would like to think that in most cases, I am a lot faster now in realizing when I do procrastinate on things, but I’m still human, right? And I still run into my own stories and I still run into my own fears, and I’ve talked to people way more successful than I am, and they have the same challenge.

Sebastian: And if you are out there thinking that your situation is unique, yes, it is. Your individual experience is unique, but the very fact that you think you are different, and your situation is different. Makes you the same as all of us.

Maria: Just like how therapists need their own therapists as well.

Sebastian: Some might say you only get into therapy because you need to do some work for yourself. And before anybody goes, oh, he was dissing on therapists. I sometimes get this question too: coaching or therapy? It’s not an either or. I think when you’re dealing with actual trauma, when you really wanna work through your story in the sense of your life experience and heal things there, therapy definitely has a place because your body stores every experience you’ve ever had, any one of those emotions that you suppress is still there.

Sebastian: Right? And it takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep it under wraps and therapy definitely has a place there. There are some of my clients that I said, look, I think it’s time for you to do some of this in therapy because I don’t do therapy in coaching. The objective of coaching is, “okay, this is your situation. Now what are you doing about it?” And I don’t think one is better than the other. I think both have their place, right? When you know you still have some processing of the past to do, then yes, go get a therapist and get someone that you can be fully vulnerable and open with, because otherwise, what’s the point.

Maria: It’s kinda like the repair your car versus put fuel in your car type thing, right?

Sebastian: It’s that just with one main difference: you are doing both things while you’re actually racing a never-ending race at 60 miles an hour. Life doesn’t stop. You can’t pull over in order to refuel. No, you actually have to do this while you’re running.

Sebastian: And this is where I love what you guys do. Whether it’s meditation or mindfulness throughout the day, or dealing with the saboteurs, it’s all about quick intervals of getting back into your body. Whatever you do, it’s all about recharging, right? It’s all about creating the space so that you can be more of an observer of not just what’s going on around you, but also what’s going on inside of you. So that you cannot so much take control, but be present in your life into the things going on. And then wherever you notice or choose to, yeah, change the story, experiment, get curious. All of that presupposes a level of awareness.

Jackie: As we wrap up this hour, this has been a wonderful conversation. Thank you, Sebastian. Is there anything else that you want to let our listeners know as we wrap up this discussion?

Sebastian: Oh, there’s, there’s lots and lots and lots of things, but for the wrap up of this discussion, here’s what I would take from it as just a question to reflect on for yourself. Look at set, whether that’s for the last year or whatever timeframe really makes sense for you. And then without judging yourself, without putting yourself down, look at what’s the progress I’ve made?

Sebastian: And what is something that I’ve carried around with me for quite a while and I just haven’t made significant progress on, or just haven’t reached. And then there’s value and doing a reality check on: well, is it something I really care about? And if the answer is yes, Then I would invite you to take from this conversation the trigger to look at, okay, what might really be going on?

Sebastian: And when you do that exercise for yourself, chances are not a lot is coming up. So do the following very practical exercise that you can apply in any given situation. And I do this with my clients. I do this for myself. Play this game: if my best friend came to me and told me this very situation, what would I tell them?

Sebastian: Because in that situation, two things happen. One, generally speaking, we’re a lot kinder, we’re a lot more compassionate. We’re a lot more loving towards our best friend than we are towards ourselves. So, there will be much less judgment much less putting that other person down, first of all, which is critically important when you really want to reflect on what’s going on.

Sebastian: And secondly, by changing that perspective it’s often so much easier to give someone else advice, than to solve things for us. So, if there is something going on where you’re not satisfied with the progress that you’re at, do that little exercise and after you’ve done it, then return back and simply acknowledge that it was your choices and your decisions, the actions you took or didn’t take that created your results. But it’s not as simple as taking a different action. Because in order to consistently take a different action, you need to feel differently because your emotions drive what actions you take or don’t take.

Sebastian: And your emotions in turn get triggered by the thoughts you have. So if you really consistently want to change something in your life, embark on the journey of exploring your stories and exploring your identity and your beliefs and your doubts and fears. Because they hold the key to creating the impact, whether that’s in your relationships or revenue in your business, doesn’t matter, but to create the impact that you want to create in your life.

Jackie: That’s really powerful.

Maria: Well, thank you, Sebastian, for being here with us today. I think we and our listeners got a great big deal out of it. And just to wrap it up, I would like to ask you what’s the best way, how people can contact you?

Sebastian: Alright, well first of all, thanks for having me. I loved the conversation.

Sebastian: There’s two ways. One is I go by chief Mindsetter on LinkedIn and I suppose we can share the link. Connect on LinkedIn, I would love that. I’m happy to give you guys my email address as well. If somebody says, nah, I don’t do those platforms, they can just send a message.

Sebastian: And the other thing I would suggest besides the link to the saboteur assessment that I mentioned, which has nothing to do with me and doesn’t give you any contact information for me either is I did prepare the three secrets to taking empowered action even when you don’t feel like it.

Sebastian: And anyone who wants to check it out, we can provide the link and they can just go grab it and get a few very practical tips about dealing with whatever you are avoiding in the here and now when you don’t have the time to do the deep work. We find ourselves in those sorts of situations throughout the day.

Sebastian: So, grab those tips and let me know what impact you created from it. So that would be awesome.

Maria: That’s wonderful. Thanks again, Sebastian. We’ll definitely provide all of the links for our listeners in our post and yeah thank you for being here.

Sebastian: It was my pleasure.

Jackie: Thank you, Sebastian.

Sebastian: Let me know what feedback and follow up questions you get, and maybe we’ll have another conversation at some point.

Maria: Yeah, definitely. Yes.

Jackie: That sounds great.

Sebastian: Thank you both.

Jackie: All right, bye-bye.

Maria: And to all our listeners out there, thank you for joining us again for this episode of Becoming Mindful Podcast. If you haven’t followed us yet, follow us on social media @BecomingMindfulPodcast or check out all our episodes on our website at becomingmindfulpodcast.com. And we hope you join us again next time.

Maria: Until then, be well.


[…] Episode 17: Why we need to lean into fear to unlock our greatest potential. […]

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