Coach Shari: Fearing the Unknown

Coach Shari: Fearing the Unknown

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Our life coach columnist explains how fearing the unknown can paralyze everything from your every day to your big picture goals. Read on for tips to start living fearlessly.


Fear. It keeps us locked in negative behavior.  It holds us backfrom accomplishing our goals and meeting expectations. It stands in our way from feeling confident and living the life that we desire.

Let me explain.

Let’s say you’re distraught because you are not getting along with someone at work. Last week, it blew up between the two of you into an ugly confrontation. Now, you can’t stop thinking about it daily and, to be honest, it sometimes gets in the way of you being productive. You play out old experiences with this person over and over in your head.  Each time, you are checking again to ensure that you are in the right in the situation, feeling those negative emotions over and over. This has the effect of making you angrier and angrier about the whole situation. In fact, by the time you are done with this process, your hurt, anger and indignation will be way out of proportion to the original offense.

Now, instead of actually dealing with the situation, you just go along with your day like nothing happened. However, your anger simmers beneath the surface and it’s hard for you to contain it. From your vantage point, you think that you are doing a superb job at managing the situation. You are convinced that no one else has any idea that you have this whole drama unfolding behind the scenes. 

You are wrong.

Instead of dealing with the situation, the anger that both of you continue to harbor is revealed in passive-aggressive comments and behavior. Or, maybe you just stay silent and feel miserable, like you’re going to explode in the near future. Which actually might happen.

Fear is why is it so hard for you to just have that tough conversation.

Fear of not knowing what to expect from the other person. Fear of not knowing how that person is going to react. Fear of hearing some truth that could hurt you to the core. The unpredictability of the situation can paralyze you. It can motivate you to just stay silent and just live with the situation. It can prompt you to express your feelings in unproductive ways that just add fuel to the fire. It can lead you to end up creating a much bigger problem than you originally had. And the fear can play tricks on your brain and convince you that you’re handling the problem quite appropriately, when that is very far from the truth.

Facing your fear takes courage.

Gather your courage and face the situation. Stop being an ostrich and putting your head in the sand. Stop rationalizing, complaining, wasting valuable time thinking and talking about the situation (to everyone else but that person) and just deal with it. Take a leap of faith and just have the talk.

Columnist - After graduating from Ohio State University with a B.A. in Organizational Communications, Shari spent 10 years working in Business Operations with progressive responsibility. She was an integral part of the company’s growth from 2 to 50 store operations. After leaving this position, she worked in the fields of Education and Social Services, where she became the “go-to” person for change. Her problem-solving, leadership, and people skills enabled her to take an idea and develop it into a full-fledged program. Shari then decided to fulfill a life-long dream and received her Mental Health/Counseling Degree. In 2010, Shari created Shari Goldsmith Coaching, to support and empower professional women to define their goals, go after their dreams, and ultimately change their lives. A few years later, Shari created Workplace Resilience to give individuals and executive teams the tools to not only survive, but thrive in this fast changing marketplace. Shari is the current President of the local Ellevate Chapter, part of a global network of 34,000 professional women. Contact her at