Lessons on fear from James Gandolfini & Sesame Street

I was so sad to hear of James Gandolfini's passing last week. My Sunday evenings used to be devoted to The Sopranos, and, beyond that, it's always hard so see someone die so young and so suddenly.

I came across this video of a guest spot he did on Sesame Street (awesome.) and while it showcased his softer side so beautifully, it also included wisdom on fear that applies quite well to us grown-ups.

Lessons on Fear:

1. Be gentle with your fears.

Would you punch a small child who is afraid of the dark in the face? Unlikely, yet it is so easy to feel that way towards our fears. Anger and frustration towards fear is natural, especially if it's something that's been holding you back for a long time. However, I'd like to suggest a softer approach.

Think about how you'd treat that young child who is tired and crying and scared and treat your fear like that. Approach the fear with patience. And understanding. And gentleness. It's amazing how quickly love will help dissipate the scary.

2. We all get scared.

Everyone has fears. Everyone. Even Barack Obama. Even Oprah. Even Tony Soprano.

When you're caught in a fear spiral, it's easy to think that you're all alone and that no one has ever felt the way you do. It's a lie; don't believe it.

3. Your fears are not everyone else's.

Maybe the thing that makes you most nervous is public speaking. Maybe it's writing. Or potential rejection. We don't all have the same fears, and that's okay. Just because someone else can stand on stage and preach with confidence doesn't mean that you should be able to do it confidently right away. It also doesn't mean that that person doesn't feel stage fright or jitters.

Your fears are yours. They are real. And there are ways to face them. (See lesson #1 for a starting place.)

4. Our fears don't always make sense. And that's okay.

Just because something doesn't make sense doesn't make it any less real. Remember, to get past your fear and move into action, you have to first accept what you're working with. Wishing your fears could be more "reasonable" doesn't move anything forward. At all.

5. When in doubt, hug it out.

You do not have to be alone with your fear. I repeat: you do not have to be alone with your fear. Find yourself an outlet, whether a friend, a journal, a coach - be willing to step outside of your head and get support. It will make a tremendous difference to your life.

Your turn: In the comments, I'd love to hear from you: what helps you face your fears and move beyond them? Any wisdom to share?

**graphic by Erin Cassidy for Tiffany Han Coaching


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