Are you afraid of fear?
Redundant? No. There are a lot of books, coaches and/or self-proclaimed gurus who want to help you “reduce or eliminate fear“. If that’s what you seek – I’m here to say you are wasting your time, energy and money. You shouldn’t try to get rid of anxiety unless you have no interest in growth, improvement or promotions.
Trust me, I don’t say this lightly. I’m as guilty as you are in trying to reduce or eliminate fear! I can procrastinate, avoid, deny and delay with the best of them – anything to prevent that gnawing, cold, uncomfortable feeling in my gut.
What I’ve come to realize is I’m missing the boat. Living “fear free” is the exact opposite of what you want to do. Having little to no anxiety in your life suggests you are stuck. You are much too secure in your comfort zone – doing/experiencing only that which keeps you fearless!
Recently, my financial advisor, Zurich Awes, (shameless plug – he’s fantastic! He’ll organize your financial world and push you to live a life you love), told me about a book I need to read. Evidently, he could hear ‘trepidation’ in my voice while we talked about my “comfortable” business model. While I don’t like my articles to be ‘book reports’, I love the concepts and ideas and want to share my top takeaways. I don’t want you to make these mistakes regarding fear.
5 Fear-Based Learnings
1. Fear never goes away (if you continue to grow). This is powerful. Many believe nerves and anxiety diminish as you gain experience, confidence and promotion. That’s the way it should be right? You become confident in your decisions and choices because you are older and wiser. In reality – this doesn’t happen. If you extend beyond your comfort zone – you experience fear. In fact, it is so predictable, I encourage you to use the feeling as an indicator you are successfully plowing new ground and experiences. You get nervous with new and different. If you pursue continuous improvement and seek new experiences – you’ll be afraid.
2. The best way to rid a fear (of something) is to go out and do it. Think back over your life – how many times has your confidence, comfort and security come AFTER you did that which made you nervous. Maybe a new job, difficult course, new hobby/sport, public speaking – the list goes on and on. I remember having diarrhea for a week before I taught my first college-level course. However, by the time a new semester arrived – I couldn’t wait to teach again. It is only by doing that which scared me that the fear went away. Paradoxical? Yes, but also quite empowering!
3. The best way to feel better about yourself is to do/embrace your fear. You may be holding off on seeking a promotion, changing jobs, moving to a new city UNTIL you are more confident and secure. Wrong. The confidence and self-esteem come AFTER you confront and engage in that which makes you timid. Far too many people are “waiting” for this mythical point in life when you are fearless and prepared to take a chance. The irony is it comes after you act. Life doesn’t come with a safety net. Jump!
4. Not only you are experiencing fear – so is everyone when on unfamiliar ground. Many feel alone in their insecurity and self-doubt. You tend to think “If I were as confident as so-and-so, I’d do _____ too!” You can watch others from afar and think they feel no anxiety; they are comfortable and poised all the time. Guess what – So-and-so is as scared as you! Nobody gets a pass in the Fear-Factor game – we all experience it. Find comfort in that – recognize the people you see “going for it” are mere mortals. They feel the same trepidation as you.
5. Pushing through fear is far less scary than living with a perpetual feeling of helplessness. Regret is a cancer. If you don’t at least try – regret builds. Worse, your self-doubt increases and your sense of control decreases. Left unchallenged, you begin to feel an on-going helplessness. You give up control of your choices. How horrible! What fear is worth that?! None I can think of.
These five lessons are not earth-shattering. They are, however, powerful. For me, it was great to read them and remind myself regularly of their wisdom. If you plan to continue to grow, evolve and change – fear is going to be an emotion you experience often.
Learn to manage it – take these fundamentals further. Dr. Jeffers has more insights and techniques in her book titled Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. I encourage you to read it – here is a link.