Fear is a killer.
A killer of dreams, success and happiness.
And fear will stop you in your tracks. It will stop you from going after that dream promotion, or starting that business you've always wanted, because you might not be successful. It will stop you from trying something new, in case you look foolish. It will stop you from standing up for what you truly believe in, because of what others might think of you. It might even stop you from frequenting busy public spaces because you've seen so much coverage of terror attacks and crazed gunmen. And it will see you spending your spare time staring blankly at the TV, endlessly surfing the net, or drinking too much wine as you try to escape from the humdrum existence you've cultivated for yourself. An existence free from excitement, challenge, purpose and variety.
But what if that's not enough for you? What if you have had enough of living tightly inside your box? What it you're ready to break out?
Well, the first thing you need to acknowledge is that fear isn't real. It's made up. It's a belief. And a belief, by its very nature, is something we have no evidence of, but choose to accept anyway. Now that doesn't mean that danger isn't real, because of course it is, but we tend to blow danger out of all proportion when we are afraid, making the unlikely seem inevitable, and the insignificant seem insurmountable.
All of a sudden, the minute risk of a terror attack on your local shopping mall seems probable; losing your house, because you pursued your business idea and it didn't work, starts to look like a dead cert; and, the possibility of unimportant people mocking you behind your back, consumes you as if it could strike down your first-born child for ten generations.
Compelling stuff certainly, particularly if left unfettered, but if you are ready to transform your life, yet are still struggling with fear, then try my favorite three ways to put fear behind you.
1. Get Out of Other People's Heads
A sure sign of fear, is spending a lot of time thinking about what is going through the minds of other people. Be it family members, associates, your boss, or even your partner, it's not your job to be a mindreader. So, if you ever hear yourself saying that "Such-and-such doesn't like me", "What's-her-face is so arrogant", "He never gives any thought to my feelings," or anything else which implies that you are some kind of clairvoyant, then you need to think again.
Just because someone isn't outwardly nice to you doesn't mean that they don't like you. It might mean that they're intimidated by you, lack social skills, or just have other things on their mind. Likewise, someone who appears arrogant could be putting on a front of confidence, to cover up insecurities, and a man who tramples your feelings may simply be inept at deciphering your emotions (i.e. not psychic, just like you).
In fact, there are many hundreds (if not thousands) of reasons why people behave the way they do and, nine times out of 10, it will have more to do with what is going on in their lives (or has gone on in the past), than with you; even if they are, in fact, directing their behavior at you. So, drop the narcissism -- "It's all about me!" -- and get out of their heads. If you have a problem with the way someone treats you, then let them know (in a calm, mature fashion) or just let it go, by assuming that the issue is theirs, and forgetting about it.
2. Get Inside Your Own Head
The silly thing about being afraid, is that while you're spending all that time inside others' heads, your own fears are running amok, exponentially growing and thriving, without any conscious regulation from you. So now is the time to get a grip of those fears, and recognize them for what they actually are.
So, here you can implement the "5 whys", which is a brilliant root cause analysis technique. Ask yourself what it is that you are truly afraid of, in relation to whichever goal or dream you wish you could pursue. Whatever answer you come up with, ask why this is worthy of your fear. With each new answer, keep asking why, until you reach the true base issue. Five levels is usually sufficient to reach this, however if you still don't feel that you've gotten to the root of the problem, then keep asking until you do.
My client Lisa, said that she was afraid to go after a promotion, in case she was unsuccessful.
Me: "Why is that scary?"
Lisa: "I don't want to look foolish in front of my coworkers."
Me: "Why is that scary?"
Lisa: "I worked hard to build my reputation."
Me: "Why is that scary?"
Lisa: "My reputation is really important to me."
Me: "Why is that scary?"
Lisa: "It's the only thing I have."
Me: "Why do you feel it's the only thing you have?"
Lisa: "Because I mostly just feel like a fraud." -- The Root Cause
Once you know what the root cause of your fear is, you can look to deal with the underlying issue. You can also implement a risk assessment, to see how likely it is that your fear will actually come to pass, and to find out how severe the impact would actually be. So, in Lisa's case, we could say that the likelihood of her not successfully getting the job was two in three, because there were a total of three candidates. However the severity of her not getting the promotion was actually quite low, once she considered the likely impact on her reputation, and decided that some people would be impressed that she went after it in the first place. And, more importantly, going after it would help her to begin shaking off that feeling of being a fraud.
As you work through these techniques, you may be surprised to find out that your fears are a lot less scary than you think they are. So give it a go.
3. Stop Procrastinating
The main reason that your fears are given an opportunity to fester and grow, is because you never really do anything to banish them. So, take a leaf out of Eleanor Roosevelt's book, and start doing something, every single day, that scares you.
Because procrastination is just another way of letting fear rule your life. You do things that are easy or provide a quick fix, to avoid taking on the things that are challenging or scary. But it's those challenging things that can make the biggest difference to your confidence, motivation and success. So, by making a conscious effort, to push beyond the limits of your comfort zone on a daily basis, you will soon find that your fears begin to diminish.
The fact is that by creating a daily habit of pushing yourself to grow and develop, you will build not only your skills and competence in the specific areas you are working in, but you will also build your resilience, critical-reasoning, and self-esteem. Making it a win-win-win!
So, there you have it, my three favorite steps for putting fear behind you. But remember, it really must be a daily practice, because fear will creep back in quickly given any opportunity. So, make some time, every morning to assess what's happening in your head and to decide how you're going to really push it; today!
Jo Davidson is a Success Coach, Author and Motivational Speaker, with a passion for empowering women to become fearless, so that they can break through their upper limits and create abundantly successful businesses, financial wealth and relationships. Connect with her today by joining her Fearless Women's Circle, on Facebook.