Fight the fear

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Fear is perhaps the biggest reason many people fail to achieve their potential, playing it safe and fearing failure means that success is limited.  Fear is a natural emotion  and it can be used positively as fuel for the things we want to achieve.  

Understanding our fears is the first step to overcoming them and it is an essential part of the process of going it alone.  Fear is about the things we don't know, the questions we don't ask and the things we don't see.  The fear of the unknown.  By sitting down and examining our fear we make the unknown known and can move forward confidently.  The more we exercise fear, the easier it gets and the more risks we take.

Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it the more natural it becomes to not let my fear run me
— Arianna Huffington

Of course, this isn't always easy.  Our fears often run so deep that the negative, self-doubting thoughts fear breeds become habit.  The good news is that old habits can be changed and new habits can be formed with a little hard work. 

The 5-step formula for fighting fear

  1. COST UP MISSED OPPORTUNITIES - By playing to our fears we inevitably give up or lose out on an opportunity to reach our potential.  The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.  The first step in fighting fear is to consider what would be lost by not taking the action.  In the past I have lost out on the opportunity to make new friends, to travel, to make more money, to love and be loved because I let my fear rule my choices.  For most people the reality of what will be lost can often be the driving force to take action.
  2. RESEARCH THE OUTCOMES - As we have already discussed fear thrives on the unknown.  When we don't know what we are dealing with the potential outcomes often seem far worse than they actually are.  Take time to consider all the possible outcomes (positive and negative) so that you can understand the true risks involved.  Ask yourself "what will happen if I fail?", "how will I feel?", "what if I succeed, how will I feel then?".  Once you can answer these questions, you make a logical choice and move forward.  
  3. CONSIDER RECOVERY - Most of us are more equipped to deal with failure than we think.  Consider what the worst possible scenario could be, chances are it won't be as bad as you expect.  What would be the reality of following your dreams?  What would you do if it didn't work out?  Would it be hard to find another job?  Would you lose your home or your family?  Working out a recovery strategy can help to disperse some of the risk involved.
  4. CREATE A CONTINGENCY PLAN - By managing risk we are able to reduce fear.  Yes, your first plan might "fail" dramatically but by having a plan B you can continue to work towards your goal whilst learning from your "failure".  
  5. TAKE BABY STEPS - everything we learn to do is hardest the first time.  By taking small manageable actions we build confidence until we can take the big leaps

I am passionate about not letting fear rule my life.  In the past I have missed out on so many opportunities to experience life because I have let fear hold me back.  I have feared failure, embarrassment, loss.  I have let my inner critic convince me I am not worthy, I am too messy, not good enough, not lovable.  I used to try to ignore the self-criticism and distract myself with work or alcohol but now I am working on learning to like that part of myself.  Yes, really....

Our inner critic is part of us, those negative thoughts are part of who we are.  Even the most calm and confident people have moments of self-doubt and fearfulness, it's about learning to accept our inner critic but to choose not to listen to it.

ACTIONABLES

If you are living in fear or letting it hold you back I encourage to take some time to examine it.  Pull out your journal and work through the below exercises...

  • What key fears or self-critical (limiting) beliefs do I hold?  For each one think about  how you have arrived at that belief. 
  • What opportunities could I lose out on if I let fear rule me?
  • Take each of those fears and beliefs and flip them, find evidence to support your new outlook.  Let me give you an example from my own work (this is really something I had to work through when I started my business) -

> Self-critical thought - "I'm a failure, I am not as successful as I used to be".

> Why do I feel like this?  - I used to have a corporate job with a big pay check and people (my parents, family etc) were proud of me. I had a great flat and lived in London and a big social circle.  I was fitter and thinner than I am now.  

> Evidence against this - I hated my job, London was so expensive to live in so I never had the opportunity to enjoy my salary.  I had lots of acquaintances but few "real friends".  People may have been proud of me but I was miserable living out their expectations.  I didn't have time to eat properly.  

> Flip the negative belief - I am successful because I had the courage to leave a situation that wasn't aligned to my values.  I was brave to pack up and move away from my life and start over in a new place.  I am doing work I love (and getting paid for it), I have an amazing partner and a smaller social circle of friends I can rely on.  My health and wellbeing are important to me and are something I can change and work on.  

See how it works?

  • Think of 3 small actions you could take this week to overcome your fear and work towards your goal.  No go do them! 

I hope the above exercises help you to start changing the way you look at yourself and help you to make positive change.  If you would like more support then check out my coaching packages to see if you might benefit from working together.  

Have a great weekend!

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