Public speaking. Harsh criticism from peers. Being vulnerable. Writing a book that no one will read. Voicing an unpopular opinion in a large group of people.
These are just a few of my own personal fears. How about you?
Fear is a tricky emotion. Fear, on a very basic level, serves the purpose of keeping us safe. Fear is a deep seeded defense mechanism that kicks in anytime we feel discomfort, stress and anxiety. Fear tries to keep us out of harm’s way and free from conflict–but on the flip side it’s holding us back from amazing experiences, happiness and the success we crave.
Fear doesn’t always show up in the most obvious way (ie. hiding under the covers)–fear loves to put on a disguise and present itself in a myriad of ways. Here are some of the ways that fear manifests for me:
- Low-level anxiety and nervousness
- A pit in my stomach, tightness in my chest
- Confusion severe lack of focus
- Lack of motivation (almost to the point of paralysis!)
- Increasing negative self talk
There is a good chance that the fear gremlins have infiltrated your thoughts in all sorts of ways, causing self doubt to take hold, negative self talk to increase and mediocrity to set up camp.
How Do I Meet Fear Head On Like a Badass?
I thought you’d never ask! The following are 5 quick steps to meeting your fears head on:
1. Where there’s fear, there’s power
The first thing to realize is that once you learn to recognize your sneaky fear goblins you can begin to acknowledge that where there’s fear, there’s POWER. When your body and brain begin to send signals to retreat (aka your Lizard Brain begins to take over), you know you are on the cusp of making a big change and/or experiencing an emotional breakthrough. Reframe those negative feelings of discomfort and recognize that by facing this fear, you are taking action, making progress and encouraging positive growth
2. Name it and flip it
Next time you get that pit in your stomach or experience another bout of decision paralysis, stop and recognize the feeling for what it is. Give is a name: fear of rejection perhaps or fear of failure. Really pay close attention to your own negative (and harmful!) self-talk.For example, let’s say you’re feeling hesitant about applying for that dream job. “I don’t have the experience!”, you tell yourself. “I’m not good enough.” Deep down you might be terrified of rejection. You feel uncertain and insecure and feel silly for even considering it.
That, my friend, is FEAR presenting itself in the way of negative self-talk.
So take that inner dialog and tell it to F*%*k off. It’s time to rewrite the script:
Turn that useless inner dialog: “I’m not good enough. Who am I kidding?” into: “I deserve to experience success on my own terms. I am a qualified, valuable and capable person!”
Say it out loud! Practice saying your new script with honesty and intention over and over. Yes, affirmations can feel weird and a bit ‘woo-woo’ but it works. Besides, no one needs to know you’re talking to yourself, right? 😉
3. Make a list
I love lists. Am I addicted to office supplies, yes. But I also find lists to be a helpful visual and an easy way to commit concepts to memory. Did I mention I love office supplies?
Use this list to weigh the options of either moving into your fear or choosing to stay safe. Write out the pros and cons. What’s the worst thing that could happen if:
A.) You moved through the discomfort and attempted the thing that’s freaking you out?
B.) You chose to stay comfortable, maintaining the status quo?
My guess is that there’s likely much more to gain from facing that fear and that death is an unlikely outcome, yes?
4. DO IT!
Easier said than done right? This is where creating a measurable end goal with incremental steps along the way can make all the difference. Step into your fear, hold it close and settle in with it. Find your cheering section by seeking a trusted accountability partner or perhaps seek an online tribe for extra support. And above all, remember to be patient with yourself–facing fear and discomfort is a process. Taking the steps to move through these feelings is a HUGE accomplishment in and of itself.
That’s right–celebrate! Remind yourself that facing fear is a journey that most people opt out of. You are taking steps to control your own outcome and doing the work of self empowerment. Recognize and celebrate your wins no matter how small. And know that this is an ongoing process, with lots of highs and lows along the way. Embrace these challenges, knowing that life is merely a series of experiences and that taking part is a privilege not a burden.
You have untapped potential and fear is holding you back. Face your fears, challenge the status quo and celebrate your experiences. And don’t forget to kick some serious ass.