The Emotional Intelligence of Feeling Scared

ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

The Emotional Intelligence of Feeling Scared

emotional intelligence scared emotions leadership development

Feeling scared is a normal and natural feeling that occurs when you start something new (a.k.a. going into unknown territory). Think about the times you have started a new job. Did you feel nervous, anxious, tense and excited at the same time? That is what feeling scared feels like. It’s butterflies in the stomach. It’s sweating. It’s shakiness. It’s uncomfortable. Feeling scared is the body’s way of alerting you that you are going into unchartered waters, and you have no idea what the outcome will be. We are instinctually wired to protect ourselves. Emotions arise when there are potential threats to our “safety.” Think of emotions as mini smoke alarms that are trying to get your attention to take a second look at what is going on around you. It doesn’t mean that you have to panic and call 911, and it also doesn’t mean that you should ignore them because they are going off all the time. Feelings are the way your body signals you to pay attention because you may have to do something to protect yourself.

If you block, ignore or repress your scared feelings, you will become confused and immobilized. Instead of preparing to start the new job (picking out what you are going to wear, planning what route to take, thinking about what you’ll do for lunch the first day), you’ll fall into a funk and unceasingly question whether or not you made the right decision. You’ll spend (waste) time mulling over the interview and if there was a personality that you may not be able to work with. Or, you’ll question the length of the commute, the starting pay and the title of the position. “Is this really the right move for me?” will be the focus of your mind if you block your scared feelings. This is the mind’s attempt at keeping you safe. Even if you can’t stand your current job, at least you know what to expect every day, and the mind will take that familiarity as safety and security. In this case, if you listen to the mind instead of allowing and acknowledging your scared feelings, you’ll most likely call and back out of the new job opportunity in an attempt to feel safe and secure.

Just because a feeling is uncomfortable, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t move forward. It just means that something is being activated within you. It means that your body is out of its comfort zone. Rather than stopping the forward motion, just pay attention to what you are feeling and why. Listen to your feelings. Acknowledge them. Validate them. Process them. And then, release them. They are there to help you.

Next week, we’ll look at the difference between feeling fearful and feeling scared. Feeling scared is uncomfortable. Feeling fearful will get the adrenaline pumping and put you into a state of fight or flight.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives.  For more information, please go to

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About the author

Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. administrator

As a Certified Spiritual Life Coach, I specialize in emotional and social intelligence coaching for business leaders and key managers to increase effectiveness and overall satisfaction in both business and personal arenas. I provide one-on-one coaching in person or over the phone.