On fear

What aspect of your life are you most fearful about right now?

  • Taking the next step towards a goal?
  • Presenting at work?
  • Achieving your financial goal in life?
  • Ending a relationship?
  • Changing your job or career?
  • Too many choices about what you could do?
  • Starting a new venture (read hobby, language, business here)
  • Getting to the end of the week without missing a deadline?

Fear can paralyse you. For years.You have it in your head that you could do all these things but you just seem to stay stuck.

Feeling trapped in a situation, a set of circumstances or a feeling saps the life out of you. You want to give up, you feel weary.

How can you escape from this fear?

1. Acknowledge it.

We grown ups don't have it all sorted. By saying to yourself (whispering is ok!) that it's fear that you're dealing with (use that word) gets it clear in your mind. You're not inadequate or incapable. You're just fearful.

2. Remember this:

Everyone faces fear. Think of the person you admire most in the world. They have been fearful. Don't believe me? They've had that feeling you're experiencing. The difference is they have learnt to to deal with the fear. And no, of course that didn't happen instantaneously. It just seems like that when you read their autobiography.

3. Know yourself.

Fears often overtakes us when we are on a path where we don't use our natural strengths, we don't participate in the activities we enjoy and we are doing certain things just because other people think we should. Take time to remember the things you love to do. Brainstorm, note down, remind yourself until it becomes ingrained. Yes, give up the non-work activities you're just 'doing', that you've forgotten why. Just give them up. The world will not end. And if it's work you're doing and you've forgotten why, start finding out what you would like to do instead.

4. Find the dream.

What is the dream connected with that fear? Is it a dream of being able to speak up in a small group of people? A dream where your bank account is in credit at the end of every month instead of being overdrawn? Do you dream of working with people you actually like?

5. Take the 'huge leap' away.

Work out the little steps you have to do in order to get to the dream. When you get to a step you can't think of how to achieve, circle the step and write "get some help with this one" Then, take the first step you can, just that one, no more.

6. Get help.

Email your best friend saying 'I need some ideas, can you help?'. Hire a coach. Make some new and supportive friends via Creatives Hub. Read a book or blog. Don't sit and worry. There is help out there: emotional, physical, spiritual, goal-defining and for the ultimate in stuckness. Message me if you'd like!

7. NOW.

Now will become yesterday very soon. Use the power now. You might bookmark this page and come back to it in a year. Good. Do that. But even better, just have a little go now. For 5 minutes. Tell me how it went.

Here's the bad news. When the fear goes away, that doesn't mean it's never coming back. No. But you've dealt with it once, it's the same process. Yes, and perhaps the risk increased. Little by little, overcoming the fears one at a time, you realise that you can handle it, you won't shy away. You've grown.

Susan Jeffers wrote a great book called Feel the Fear and do it anyway - a practical guide to facing your fears and moving forward. Jeffers explains the 'No lose' concept for when we face what seems like an either/or path. Whichever path you choose in life will bring both good things and bad things, and there is no 'wrong' way. Equally, she explains, we can usually change our attitude to our circumstances, even if it doesn't work out the way we thought it would.*

Emilie Wapnick of Puttylike gives us a great example of feeling the fear and overcoming it here. Emilie was the quiet one in school, interested in something for a while, then moving onto something else. She has built a business and her brand around her unique personality and has recently faced up to her biggest fear: public speaking. I'll let her words tell the story.

What's your biggest fear? What's your biggest dream? Can we help break it down?


*Note: Whilst writing this post, I found out that Susan Jeffers passed away on Oct 27th 2012, just a few weeks before this post was published. From the In Remembrance page that has been set up on her website, you can see the impact of her work and life on so many people.