Ah, Fear. A familiar feeling for all of us. Being scared sucks, but it plays an important role throughout our lives. The primary purpose of fear is to keep us safe. But safe is a double-edged sword.
Let's go back to the beginning of time and think about the positive aspect of fear. Back in the caveman days, fear of creepy, dangerous things like poisonous snakes, insects or giant animals that could eat you in a single bite was a very reasonable thing (and still is, yikes!). Fear of encountering or arousing the interest of beings that could hurt you serves the purpose of keeping you safe. You see a rattlesnake, you quickly turn and run in the opposite direction. You see a wasp's nest, you very slowly and quietly back away until you can freely run screaming in panic away from said nest. This kind of fear saves your hide on a regular basis.
Fear is a primal emotion. It's an evolutionary gift that has stayed with us because it can be the difference between survival and death. The tricky part is that it can be very difficult to differentiate between the useful kind of fear that keeps you alive and the limiting kind of fear that keeps you stuck where are. Fear feels like fear - yucky and compelling in its quest to keep you from making moves. And physiologically, your body cannot differentiate between actual life-threatening fear and fear of let's say, getting on stage. In our non-caveman modern experience, the kind of fear we experience on a regular basis isn't of the life-threatening variety; you will have the same adrenaline-soaked reaction whether you're in danger or not. And that, my friends, is how the power of fear compels you.
But you've let it go too far. Fear has you in its grasp, and it's unlikely to ever let you go.
You weren't expecting me to say that, huh.
But it won't. Not ever. Your quest is not to be without fear, it's to act despite it. When fear shows up, instead of heeding its call to take shelter and hide, examine it. What, exactly, is this fear trying to protect you from? Rejection? Anger? Dismissal? Being visible? Failure? Fear is just trying to be your friend. Fear thinks it's keeping you safe.
But @#*! safe, already. Safe is how you stay stuck. Safe is not the zone of growth. Safe is the zone of the same ol', same ol'. In other words, bo-ring. Mundane. The stuff mid-life crises are made of. Not where you want to be.
So check that fear out next time it shows up and look at what it's trying to protect you from. Thank it for showing up. Let Fear know you got this, and have the courage to act anyway. Do something each week that scares you and watch what happens. You won't be able to stop it - growth and expansion will come for you.