Crush Your Fear So You Can Crush Your Goals
“Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.”
- Elle Woods
I have a gnarly fear of flying. This fear is particularly poignant during take-off, but the entire flight I’m not any fun to be around.
I wasn’t always scared of planes. It was more of a learned fear and ironically my current role requires a lot of up-in-the-air-time which hasn’t, contrary to a friend’s assertion, made me any more comfortable with the task. In fact, I keep thinking, “I’m pushing my luck the more often I do this,” as if the odds become stacked against me with frequent flying.
Like I’ll somehow be found out.
People are usually familiar with the term “imposter syndrome.” As a concept, it runs rampant between the sexes, across all generations, and is rarely limited by industry or title. As we ascend closer and closer to accomplishing great things, our fear of being discovered as a fraud increases.
Like you’ll somehow be found out.
You weren’t born this way. Experiencing these completely normal emotions was an evolutionary and learned task. If you’ve ever felt this, you know you can not “rationale” the thoughts away. They’re beyond logic and reason - they’re primal. Emotive. Deep-seated and really f-ing annoying.
Half of your brain is overjoyed at the prospect of impending achievement. Everything is sunshine and lollipops. Simultaneously, the other half thinks everything is going to come crashing down. Brain science helps us objectively understand this:
At this moment, a primitive part of the brain, the amygdala, is doing its best to protect you from undue harm - real and perceived. Hence, cautionary tales of being discovered as a fraud. The neocortex, a relatively “new” sector of the brain is all, “What are you talking about? I can crush this goal!”
You’re stuck in the middle refereeing a game you barely know the rules for and asking, “How the hell do I win an argument against my brain, the most powerful computer on the planet?”
I’ll tell you how.
Just like computers, your brain is a machine. And machines are both useful and decidedly annoying in their need for upkeep. Sometimes you have to trick that M.F-er into working the way you want it to work.
Enter Elle Woods and her posse of exercise-induced endorphins.
In reliable doses, sweat sessions produce a rush of endorphins in the brain which signal to the body, “I like this! All is well.” Listening to music you really enjoy can do the same; a great conversation; spicy peppers; laughing; amazing sex (yeah, I said it.) Similar results.
So picture this: I’m on a plane. My body is tense and I can’t take a full breath. My nervous system is in overdrive - fight or flight - get me off this thing.
Then, I start laughing.
At first, it’s the corners of my mouth turning into a cheeky smile. I let out a small chuckle. Finally, I’m audibly laughing as if I’ve just finished the best episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
The point? I begin to feel immediately better. My cortisol and adrenaline levels lower. Endorphins give way to a rush of oxytocin, maybe dopamine, and eventually serotonin - a quartet of neurotransmitter happiness.
This 10% shift takes the edge off. I can concentrate. I can breathe. I can, at least somewhat, begin to enjoy the undivided time I have to read, work, or rest. I can speak to my seatmate like a normal human versus a fish who never learned to swim. When the effects really kick-in, I’m present.
Ladies, this is not a unique Micky-superpower. You have this tool at your disposal, too!
Before an important meeting, backstage pre-presentation, in the middle of a heated discussion, or any time you hear the unwelcome voice of doubt raising its volume - smile. Do it right now, even. Watch the feedback loop from your brain to your body. Let it build and then laugh a little! Not in a sarcastic or sinister way - laugh like you really think this is humorous, hilarious, in fact, that someone as strong-willed, resourceful, and deserving as you could even for a moment become rattled or filled with doubt.
Not your jam? Do 20 jumping jacks. Listen to short snippets of a comedic podcast. High-five a stranger. Give someone near you a compliment. Find your rush and #getyourheadstraight.
Finally, at the very end of your endorphin high, let out a meaningful sigh of relief. A reset to baseline. Then go back to crushing your climb to the top!
And if one day you find yourself on a flight and hear a female passenger cackling, come say hello.
About Micky Kerwick
“I like to divide every business into three pillars - the product you sell, the clients you sell it to, and the employees who do the selling. My experiences has shaped a belief that of those three components, the most important one is (and always will be) the employees - your people.
As a coach for Own the Room, the founder of MK Metrics and a teacher of yoga, I see time and time again that in order for an individual to perform at their finest, they must feel invested in. They must be inspired and connected both to themselves and others. Only then will their best self emerge. And only then, will your business succeed.
Helping people succeed has been a theme throughout my career. After spending time teaching Business English in Turkey to executive level professionals, I returned to New York to serve as a Regional Head of training for Lululemon, providing personal development and leadership training to managers and staff for all New York retail locations. In 2016, I joined the team at Own the Room to support individuals or teams grow their ability to Communicate effectively - an everyday necessity whether you're the head of marketing or a contributor to an upcoming Sales pitch. More recently, I launched MK Metrics, a consulting practice to help companies with talent acquisition, retention, and operation in accordance with their core values.
When I'm not working directly with clients, you'll see me at the dog park, on a paddle-board, teaching yoga at two local studios, or spending time with husband talking about our shared passion - cars.”
You can also find Micky Kerwick inside the Hatch Tribe Members Circle. She’s our Mentor of the Month, for our topic “Perfecting Your Pitch”. If you want to learn how to speak more confidently about your business in any setting, you’ll love the lessons Micky is teaching. Join the Tribe to get immediate access to training, resources, and a killer community of women entrepreneurs!