Fear is valid, it's there to keep you safe but in doing so it can stunt your growth, impeding you from moving towards massive action which could produce the changes you truly desire. What is the number one thing that's holding you back?
I believe that fear is largely fear of the unknown, not necessarily fear of an outcome. In the instance of fear of failure, which many of my clients claim to struggle with, I believe it’s not the fear of failing, but rather the fear of not knowing what’s going to happen that creates such anxiety.
When I ask clients, “What's the worst that could possibly happen?” Counterintuitively, this actually defuses the fear, and puts things into a healthier perspective because often the outcome is not that bad at all. For example, when you delay having an important conversation with a friend or family member out of fear that it’ll adversely affect your relationship with them, you might stay silent for much too long because of this fear. However, resentments from what’s unsaid are likely to build up and it’s already negatively impacting your relationship.
So consider whether your fear of the outcome is something that you should dread. After all, what is the worst that could happen? The relationship is already being affected by your inaction. When this is pointed out, do you see the irony in this? You might come to realise that by having the conversation you can begin to repair your relationship.
Not being able to predict how something is going to play out is equivalent to the fear of uncertainty that’s keeping you immobilised. In the past, you maintained a level of certainty in keeping things the way they are, safely inside your comfort zone. Stepping out from the shadow of inaction, then, can feel petrifying at first however it’s often exactly what’s necessary to acquire both what you want and what you need. Itis important to know that fear was originally designed for us to feel for a reason… fear is designed to keep ourselves safe. This fear response is something that’s been a part of our evolutionary makeup for thousands of years and is governed by the region in our brain called the amygdala.
In modern-day times, though, the threat is not a sabre-toothed tiger lunging at us but rather looming threats to our ego, finances, societal position, or popularity. A lot of people live in fear of judgement as a result, and this often manifests in the form of social anxiety.
The first way to mitigate fears is to call it out! See it for what it is; is your fear something real or perceived? And is it something that we really need to be scared of? Once you identify your fear, you’ll be able to dismantle it.
Another way to manage your fears is to change the story. Unresourceful thoughts such as, I can’t do this, on constant replay is going to downsize your fear. Instead, position yourself for free thinking by saying, I’ve got this, this is simple, this is easy, this is fun.
Perhaps you’ll come across a situation where you can’t seem to move past the fear, but logically you know it’s not a threat to your safety. When you face the fear and do it anyway, you’ll very often prove to yourself that what you feared was just a feeling and founded on anything concrete. This allows you to take future action more consistently, because you’ve gotten over that initial psychological hurdle.
Small progressive steps, sometimes called baby steps, can be highly effective. Consider one small step you can take to overcome your fears. Then take another one, and continue to demonstrate that with each step taken, you’re beating back your fear.
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