As I opened the door to sit in my garden this morning with my usual cup of peppermint tea, the rabbits fled, as they do every time the door is opened, back towards the bushes on the other side of the garden and they are yet to reappear.
This is a usual occurrence, they'll sit for hours in the grass, the sounds of the birds and traffic in the distance not bothering them at all, but the second they hear the door open, their fluffy white tails running away from you are all you are faced with, and it's the same with the pheasants too.
Mummy pheasant and her six babies live in the hedges just the other side of our fence on the opposite side of the garden to the rabbits. Sometimes they make it onto our driveway during their morning walk, sometimes in the field opposite, and lately, under our large tree, tucking into whatever they can find to eat. And as the door opens, the mum calls her children, and they fly together back over the fence.
And yet the sounds of passing tractors, lorries, and other birds don't cause any movement at all, they'll sit for hours, eating, staying alert, and enjoying their food in the safety of the garden, until the door opens.
And this morning I couldn't help but wonder why the sound of our door appears a greater threat to the sound of a tractor, and how they can differentiate between the sound of a pigeon, a blackbird, and a starling, to that of a kite or an owl, all of which spend time in our garden. What inbuilt fear response has been developed to recognise the sound of a door and the potential threat of a woman drinking her tea on the patio that causes them to run as soon as they hear it? I can watch them all from inside the glass, and they don't move, but the second the door opens they flee?
And could this inbuilt fear response be the same that many of us when it comes to asking for what we want? Negotiating salaries? Going for a promotion? Being paid our worth? Wanting to leave a toxic employer but fearing that we're not good enough for anything else? Not wanting to speak up or show up for fear of the repercussions? Not wanting to make the changes that we know will be of benefit to us because of the fear of the unknown?
We weren't born with this inbuilt fear response like the rabbit or the pheasant, it's been taught to us. Many of us I'm sure will have been taught to be grateful for what we have, to not talk about money, to not rock the boat, that if we speak up we'll likely lose our jobs, that the threat of asking for what you want is real and that there will be negative repercussions. Fear comes up a lot for my clients, fear of change, fear of not changing, fear of asking for what they want, fear of not asking, fear of almost anything when it comes to needing to change something.
I'm not a threat to any of the wildlife in our garden, or anywhere, and yet, if they were to risk coming close to me, or staying in plain sight, would this tame a future generation and remove the fear that may at some point in the future cause harm because they were too trusting of people, and another person may in fact cause them harm? It makes sense for the wildlife in my garden to stay alert and to run as soon as they hear the door open, this protects them and future generations.
But it's not good enough for us. We need to protect ourselves and our future generations by stepping into, not running away from the fear. We need to be speaking up, asking to be paid our worth, walking away from toxic employers, taking the time to protect our mental wellbeing, saying no to things that don't lift us up and working in places that value us. We cannot stay grazing in the same garden and running away from the potential threat of conversations about pay, diversity, equality, skills, promotions, and wellbeing. We have to walk into the threat and face the fear for ourselves and for those who come after us.
We have to demonstrate that if the threat to our livelihood is present when we speak our truth, that it's time to find another garden where we can flourish.
We do not need to live in fear, we do not need to run from the sound of the door, we need to stand our ground, and we need to find the door that is right for us.
We cannot afford to stay trapped in gardens that are not right for us, we don't grow and we don't flourish in the wrong spaces.
Do you want to be the rabbit or the pheasant or do you want to be a brave version of yourself?
Kelly is an Executive Coach for Professional Women who are ready to be their own VIP and Founder of the Chrysalis Crew. Kelly coaches and consults with an open heart and an open mind and challenges the status quo. P.S - If you're a Professional Woman who is ready to be her own VIP, Be Your Own VIP is opening its doors on 1st September and you can join for just £49. https://www.kellyswingler.com/beyourownvip Published by Kelly Swingler Coaching and Developing Core-Led Professional Women who are ready to be their own VIPs | Psychologist | International Speaker | Wellbeing Advocate | Author Published • 5s 113 articles This was inspired by my morning cuppa in the garden - do you want to be like the rabbit or do you want to step toward the fear and change what needs to be changed? hashtag#ProfessionalWomen hashtag#Fear