5 Ways to Conquer Your Fears

confidence-pose-whnWhat is the one emotion that influences most of our choices?

Anger – Nope.

Sadness – Nope.

Fear – Yep!

You’ve just won a free trip to Awareness Island, where we have put together a package of fun. You’ll be staying in the all-inclusive resort at Confident Garden Inn. The food is all grown and freshly made on the island. Everyone will walk up and talk to you because they don’t care what you think; all that matters is that everyone has a meaningful experience.

I’m booked to go next month.

This is when that dreamy-hazy transition kicks in and we wake up to reality. Fear is a part of our lives, but that doesn’t mean that we have to give in to its bullying.

So why does fear play such a big role in our lives?

We use fear to protect ourselves against pain. We know that running into a bear’s cave while he’s sleeping on a summer afternoon will have disastrous effects. Our fear says, “Are you crazy? What is one good reason that makes you think that’s a good idea?”

You can’t think of one, so you slowly creep away from the cave and head back home to drink some tea.

Your fear is there to help you make choices that will keep you safe and secure. The problem is that sometimes it goes to far and doesn’t allow you to do the great work you are meant to do.

1. Listening to Your Fear

We have to listen to our fear and understand where it is coming from. If I’m afraid to go to a meeting, I always ask myself why.

I’m often afraid of being asked a question I can’t answer. I don’t want to put myself in a position where I might embarrass myself.

or

I may feel tired, but it’s usually my mind avoiding another issue. The issue is that I believe that my time can be better spent somewhere else.

Both of these examples are issues that I deal with on a regular basis.

2. Meet Your Fear Halfway

I try to think of my fear as a friend. A buddy who’s just trying to look out for my best interest. The problem is that this buddy isn’t always right.

I have to have some alone time, put my arm around his shoulder and have a talk. I actually have a dialog with myself.

Fear: We shouldn’t have to go to this meeting.

Me: I know, but I have to.

Fear: That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Me: True, but it would help. How can I make this easier on you?

Fear: You can’t.

Me: Come’on there has to be something I can do. What if we figured out a way that we can become stronger and smarter, making the “future us” a little bit better?

Fear: I’m listening.

Me: So if we go to this meeting, we can focus on improving our speaking skills. If we can reduce our stumbling a little bit and make our speaking a little more fluid we can use this when we start our own business.

Fear: Hmmm. So you think, we can use this as practice so that we will do better when we are on our own.

Me: Yeah.

By figuring out a plan that helps the both of us, we can make dealing with a situation a little more tolerable. This is where you will have to unleash your creativity.

3. Walk Side by Side

Your fear is trying to help you. You need to use your fear as an ally. The best way to do this is to listen and figure out how to find a solution that appeases everyone (see above conversation).

I understand, but let me do this once

This is a little trick that works on even the smartest brains. Let’s say you have to do a presentation in front of your whole department. Your fear says, “Run like a crazy madman!”

You are certain that you know your stuff, but you are worried about what your co-workers will think of you.

Try to reason with your fear and tell him that you just want to try it this one time. “If I fail I’ll never do it again.”

This works for me because after I try something I usually see the value in doing it again. The second time is never as scary.

4. Give In

Sometimes our fear is just too great. When this happens, it doesn’t hurt to give in sometimes. I’m working on a big project right now and I feel scared. Really! I’m trying to create a work happiness program. It’s a little daunting.

What if no one buys it? What if no one cares?

I’ll be crushed.

These are all valid concerns, but I know that creating the program will help the “future me.”

Instead of diving in, I procrastinate by creating a list of what I need to do tomorrow. I create a really easy list that doesn’t scare me.

> Work on outline of work happiness program

> Write a half page (just a little semblance of an opening)

> If I feel like doing more, I will

> Celebrate my victory

I don’t feel like I’m really trying to accomplish anything by setting myself up for tomorrow. All I feel like I’m doing is putting it off for later.

In reality, I’m setting myself up for a win tomorrow. Even if I only get a half page typed tomorrow, I will feel good.

What usually happens is I’ll get sucked into the flow of work and do more because it feels good. When the project train starts sputtering, I might try to get it back on track, but I won’t force it. I’ll do something fun like write a poem or do some Yoga.

5. Fear as a Creativity Resource

Your fear is a tool, like every emotion you experience. You can use it to help yourself create, love, and enjoy work in many different ways.

Fear will crush your motivation like a silverback gorilla jumping on your back if you don’t act quickly. You have to move to the side, help him up and hold his hand. He’ll give you those wet puppy dog eyes, but don’t give in. Tell him that he has to work with you to create a solution.

Fear is one of the best creativity resources that you have. Use it.

What do you do to appease your fear?

How do you still get awesome work done?

What’s one technique you use to stay motivated when fear is about to crush you?

Image courtesy of mammal

Comments

  1. Hi Karl

    Wow, what incredible energy in this post! Whatever was the motivation that made it come through like this – awesome, awesome job!

    Yeah, fear is a part of our lives, and it creeps into every area of our lives, and can really paralyze us when it comes to our work skills and scenarios.

    I love the tips you give, especially on not resisting fear, but making it like a friend. We than begin to understand each other better, and before we know it our fears dissipate. (The conversation you had with fear… so awesome!)

  2. Fear is very powerful. Overcoming it and thinking through “what if’s” helps you realize the potential impact of your fears. Fear can also drive some to deliver their best work…or can shut some efforts down. Knowing yourself and the potential impact your fear can have is critical to how you handle it. Getting some help along the way can help rechannel your energy and shift your fears as well.

  3. I like meet your fear halfway. I think staying out of the all-or-nothing game helps a lot, especially when it’s making progress in the right direction.

  4. When faced with fear I try to remember how many times I have felt that same way before and succeeded. We can either feed our fears or starve them so I try to keep mine on a bread and water diet. *lol* Great post…thanks! 🙂

  5. Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com says:

    Here’s an interesting point of view. If you just accept all your fears are their they disappear. They can only exist when you’re resisting them by not being aware of them.

  6. Susan C says:

    Hi Karl,

    What a great post–full of compassion and imagery, what with napping bears, and silver-back gorillas with wet puppy-dog eyes. I like your approach to talking with your fear and gently getting it on board with whatever you’re trying to do.

    I suspect that a lot of fear around trying new things or reaching for an important goal is the fear of making a mistake/failure, which in turn might come from a need to do things perfectly or a need to avoid being ridiculed/punished for doing something less than perfectly.

    One way of standing up to whatever ogre it is that’s got Fear tugging at your elbow is to imagine having an inner Guide or power animal that shows you how to shrink the ogre down to size or send it running. (Remember how Toto revealed that the great, scary wizard of Oz wasn’t so great or scary once his cover was blown?). It also helps to have a safe or sacred place in your imagination that you can go to before a meeting or starting on a project and meet with your Guides for some guidance or support.

    Have a great and fear-less day.

  7. Hi Karl,
    I love the personal tips on how you handle your own fears. I like to journal my fears and close the book on their power.

    I also paint my fear and ask what message it has for me and then deal with that because some times it’s not so obvious.

    I also take a favorite book off the shelf and re-read the underlined stuff.

    Let me know if I can help you in anyway with your new program. I’ll be back to AZ on Thursday and ready to get back in the loop!

  8. Greg Blencoe says:

    Hi Karl,

    Though I have never heard of looking at it this way, I like the idea of sometimes looking at fear as a friend who isn’t always right.

    At times, fear can really help us. I think if you take the good and ignore the bad, then fear can be properly utilized.

    However, I believe it’s best to primarily try to focus on coming from a place of love, positivity, etc. I think we are much better served when this is what is guiding us more often than not.

  9. Hi Karl,
    In general, I identify my fear then face it head on. Every day I challenge myself to something new…something simple like try a new flavor, something complex like try a new way of doing something…In a way it gives me a bit of control over fear because so much “little” adds up to big. No–okay then at least try. Each time I at least try, sometimes I realize I really don’t like it, so don’t need to incorporate it, but at least now that it’s a fact, conjecture has lost it’s power over me. Or I try and I like it and incorporate it somehow.
    I combat fear by growing faith. To me, fear is an absence of my faith. So if I work on growing faith, if I work on embracing positive, there is little room for fear or doubt.

  10. HI All

    I am agreed to everyone. Many times during my job i was afraid to present something in front of my whole team and boss, what really worked out was that i whispered to myself that come one you can do this and if i will then nothing to worry about because i will learn to do it the right way next time.

  11. I learned a lot thanks for the tips

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  2. […] Fear is your friend. It’s there to teach you what you need to pursue and what to ignore. The problem is that most of us run from fear instead of embracing it. […]