It begins as a small seed of uncertainty. But once it takes hold it slowly but surely blooms and multiplies, growing into an invisible obstacle course that stifles your willingness to risk or even try, creating doubt about your ability to achieve your dreams.
This is how fear causes us to lead smaller lives.
The specific type of fears may vary, but our reactions transcend labels – sweaty palms, dry mouth, and churning stomach — leaving us ready to do almost anything, make any sacrifice, just so the feeling will go away.
Anything that is, except stand up to the fear.
Certainly, there are times when fear serves to alert us to very real danger, but in most situations, fear is not based on reality, but rather negative assumptions about what we imagine could happen.
Just as the fear begins with you, you have the ability within you to do something about it. After all, you are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your own way.
By learning to manage your emotions and shifting your perspective toward a more positive direction, you can begin to move beyond those feelings and embrace new opportunities and experiences.You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your own way. Click To Tweet
Facing Your Fears One Step at a Time
Fear has a way of taking on a life of its own which can make a particular area of concern seem much larger and more menacing than it really is.
For example, fear of change represents a huge umbrella affecting nearly all areas of your life and attempting to push through it by following broad strategies such as trying to embrace uncertainty or think positive thoughts can help, but in themselves are unlikely to result in any sort of sustainable improvement.
So where do we begin then?
In just the same way that breaking goals into small, actionable steps can help you to achieve better results, tackling one specific fear at a time will help you to begin enjoying small, incremental successes that build momentum and confidence.
Identify a Fear-Based Trigger
We all have emotional triggers. It’s like that feeling you get when someone makes a comment that might not be a big deal to another person but totally demoralizes you.
If you have a fear of confrontations, instead of clearing the air right then and there you’re more likely to spend the next 24 hours playing mental reruns about how you should have responded.
Another common trigger is speaking in front of a group. Imagine you’re at a staff meeting and suddenly you’re called upon to give your thoughts about the latest sales projections.
You know the business, but because fear kicks in your mind goes blank. Maybe you manage to come up with something, or maybe you call in sick the next day because you’re so humiliated you start thinking about finding another job. Either way, now you’re on high alert and at the very least end up being a nervous wreck going into future meetings.
Both of these are good examples of why it makes sense to focus on triggers.
Triggers help us to pinpoint specific areas of concern, and the more focused you can get, the easier it will be to come up with a manageable plan to effectively take your power back.
Identify the Source and Rewrite the Story
To beat fear you need to name it and then redefine your view of it. For example, a former client of mine felt very insecure about not having a college degree. It didn’t matter that he had a wealth of experience and regularly received outstanding reviews; he avoided applying for advancement opportunities because he feared being humiliated.
Once he was able to acknowledge his fear the next step was to rewrite his story, so we began by outlining his accomplishments and awards, and then created a list of people who had achieved great success in their lives without the benefit of a college degree.
The next step he took to push through his fear was to volunteer to head a short term project. That worked out so well that he began speaking up and tackling more challenges which led to a promotion to an upper management level position. Within a year and a half he was managing the company’s west coast operation.
Continue to Build Momentum
Challenging your fear(s) one small step at a time will build confidence and resilience as you gradually overcome each new challenge, building a tool chest of emotional and psychological resources along the way that will help you overcome whatever fears or obstacles you may face in the future.
But as we all know, the first step is always the scariest. It’s also the most important because more often than not, by taking that first step we discover our fears were exaggerated or completely unfounded.
The quickest way to acquire self-confidence is to do exactly what you are afraid to do ~Author Unknown
Finally, I want to acknowledge that just because our lives seem to be filled with endless messages about hope, happiness and reaching for the stars, doesn’t mean that the positive thinking approach is the only way for you to create meaningful change.
Just as some people are more attracted to a positive, hopeful message, for others focusing on what their life will be like if they don’t overcome their fears will be far more motivating.
The point is to invest the time to get to know what motivates you to do and be your very best. Remember, this is about your life.
Additional reading …
Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald
Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.
She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.
To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click “here“.