US Congress obeys strict rules of decorum that dictate what representatives say on the House floor and how they say it.
For a newly elected member of Congress, learning the rules can be intimidating, and the pressure to adhere to them is high.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who recently became the youngest person in US history elected to Congress, would know — the 29-year-old New York Democrat has become one of Republican Party’smost frequent targets since she was elected in November, with seemingly every quote and action of hers coming under scrutiny.
In an Instagram post over the weekend, Ocasio-Cortez said that breaking the rules of decorum, such as addressing a committee chair the wrong way, “can have consequences small and large.”
“Opposing party members are always looking for the slightest slip-up to gum up process or make an example of you.” she said.
Even though speaking on the floor for the first time can be “scary,” Ocasio-Cortez said, she overcame her fear by treating it as motivation instead of a deterrent.
“Here’s my trick: for a long time, I’ve used fear as a guiding light instead of a reason to turn off,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Instagram.
“For me, fear isn’t saying ‘go away,’ fear tells me ‘this is new, and it *could* be dangerous. There are are stakes here,'” she said. “But I’ve very frequently interpreted fear as a growth cusp. Aside from some concrete fears, we often don’t know what we’re afraid of until we get there, and feel it. Fear tells us how to grow. Fear, like a lot of discomfort, forces us to choose: ‘Do I do this, or not?'”
She added: “Without fear, there is no courage. Without fear, we don’t have the opportunity to prove ourselves in ways we never thought possible.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s approach to fear is similar to how psychology experts and even motivational speaker Tony Robbins view it.
“The best way to deal with fear is do it anyway. You don’t have to feel good to do stuff. That’s an illusion. Make yourself do it,” Robbinstold Business Insider in 2016.
“What I’ve trained my brain is, when I say do it, we do it,” he said. “Doesn’t matter if I’m fearful. And when you train yourself to do it anyway, you have a freedom most people will never have.”
Originally published on Business Insider.
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