Fear is a unique emotion and it is built into our psyche at the survival level. However, it was not designed for our day to day lives in this century. It was to prevent us from doing activities that would harm us like being eaten by a tiger or walking off a cliff. It was not built into us to keep us from doing things that would improve our life.
Fear is something we rarely talk about and if we do it comes out as if it is just the way things are. It becomes an excuse for inaction. There is nothing wrong with feeling fear. It is natural emotion for fight, freeze or flight.
When I work with my clients, fear has become the major roadblock for many of them. They use it as an excuse for not doing the things they need to do. I have heard several variations: Fear of failure, fear of success or even fear of speaking in public. I speak regularly and I promise you before I step in front of a group of people, there is a flutter of fear. This kind of fear needs to be pushed through. . There is a great book by Susan Jeffers called Feel the Fear…Do It Anyway. I encourage you to pick it up. It is on Audible. https://amzn.to/2n6EsHE, as well, I am not sure bout iTunes.
I am not saying we don’t need fear. It serves its purpose. We just don’t need it as much today as it did when we were fighting to stay alive in a hostile world. Accept that the feeling of fear is going to be patr of your life, even those fears that want us to give up or run away. Fear should not stop you. You need to acknowledge it and then push through. Stepping forward anyway is often the most powerful step you can take.
Unlike some other feelings, fear is triggered in what is called the old brain. It oversees survival amongst other things. A triggering event for the old brain seems instantaneous. It releases the fight or flight mechanism before the new brain (thinking brain) even forms a thought. The thinking brain can also cause fear, this is especially true of irrational thoughts.
Here is something to think about. You are actually creating the event in your mind, feeling fear and then letting it stop you. (Again, we are not talking about being afraid of something that could cause physical harm. Also interesting is that this fear created from a thought can release the same amount of adrenaline that fear of actual harm can. This makes it hard to resist.
Many people create scenarios in their minds of the worst possible outcome. When they step through it and act anyway, most find that what they feared and worked themselves up over doesn’t even happen. When you catch your body tensing up and fixating on the worst thing that can happen try to look at your physical response: Usually breathing increases, tensing occurs, and heart rate rises.
The best way to work on this type of fear is to first note to yourself, “Am I risking PHYSICAL harm right now? If so, you need to get out of the situation. If not, then let yourself work through it. If it is large fear such as speaking in public, try starting with small exposures and work yourself slowly to the point you would like to be. This type of exposure therapy is often used with fear of heights, spiders, snakes, etc.
Pushing through an action when you are still feeling a bit of fear is a skill you can acquire. In fact, you need to learn it if you want to be successful, especially in business. It won’t be comfortable to embrace your fear and push through. However, feeling emotionally uncomfortable should not be an excuse to quit.
I recommend that when you are working on an illogical fear, take the time to sit and breathe. Then note how you body feels. Lastly, try to isolate the thought that is causing the fear. Look at that thought. Are you really in harm’s way? If not, think about the action that you want to take and give yourself permission to feel the fear but still take the action.
You can also work on these fears before you feel them by just sitting down and writing all the fears you have. “What are you afraid of?” Are you afraid of running out of money? Are you afraid of becoming obese? Are you afraid of being homeless? Are you afraid of someone hurting you? Really have a look at those fears. Which ones are holding you back. Put a star by them.
Pick one to work on and really push back on it. Is the thing your afraid of likely to honestly happen? Will it cause you physical harm or will emotional abuse occur? If so, take actions to protect yourself. If not, write out the good that could come of you doing it anyway.
My irrational fear is in social situations. I can talk to small or big groups with little apprehension. Put me in an intimate gathering of people that I don’t know very well, and I freeze up. When I am not in the situation, I can see that this is irrational. The worst thing that could happen would be that someone came up and spoke to me. Why the heck is that scary? See it is irrational.
We can also work to confirm our fears. Let us take my example above. I attend a social situation and the thought that prompts the fear is that what if they decide not to like me? So, to prevent this, I hide in a corner and no one talks to me. On the way home the thought changes to; see no one talked to you. No one liked you. See how irrational that can be?
Another situation that occurs frequently centers around envy. We look at someone who has what we want, and we think they are fearless. Then we consider ourselves a lessor person because we are afraid to step up to the same challenges that were laid before the person we are analyzing.
The truth is, Nobody is fearless and many of us create the fear that is holding us back in our own minds. The difference between us and that successful person (all other things being equal) is that the successful person does it anyway.
I hope this post encourages some of you to push through fears that hold you back from the life you deserve. Feel free to share some of these fears you have below so that other people that read this will realize that they are normal. We often have the same fears in life.
I hope you all have a great week.