No matter what, there are some things we just can’t escape … the standard features that come with the territory of being human. You know what they are. Little things called emotions. We have the warm and fuzzy ones, the electrifying ones, and the ones we would all like to pretend don’t exist for us.
Yup. Fear. I’ve heard a few interesting takes on it. There’s the acronym F.E.A.R. (false evidence appearing real). This little tidbit has come in handy for me over the years, simple or silly little saying that it is. Sometimes things like that can be the most powerful and helpful.
Do you live with a healthy dose of daily fear but do not let it define or limit you? My sense is most of us fall into this category: driven by “functional” fear.
I am someone who has worked extremely hard to learn how to redirect the intensity of fear and to basically strap a saddle onto it and go for the ride. For the most part, I have been living this way for years. Even I have days where “sheet therapy” (a need to stay under the covers and hide) seems like the best solution to soothe them.
How do you neutralize fears when they emerge? Do you “feel the fear and do it anyway”? Or do you pretend it’s not there and hope it’ll just go away? Do you simply refuse to acknowledge it? Do you intentionally avoid situations that arouse fear? Or, have you learned how to harness the sheer adrenaline and intensity of this emotion to propel you forward?
Here are a few common fear-provoking situations and suggestions on how to deal with them:
1. Are you preparing for an important meeting, presentation or performance? Close your eyes and smile. Yes, both at the same time. Take a deep breath and envision yourself excelling at the very task that has you all bound up in fear. Whatever it is, imagine yourself “crushing it.” Think of what your body will feel like, what it’ll sound like, all of it. Put yourself there mentally and drink up the fullness of that experience. Continue to replay that thought and accompanying sensations over and over until it’s time to swing the bat. Trust me, this works!
2. Do you have an upcoming meeting with a prospective new employer, investor or colleague? Are you afraid of what they might think about you and your level of success or accomplishment? Remember that calming truth, we are all human beings. We all experience emotions, positive and negative, which means there is no need to feel intimidated by anyone. Showing respect for people is a must, but in no circumstance should we allow feelings of self-doubt or intimidation to creep in. Similarly, since they are human beings and therefore also have to navigate the climate of emotions too, approach the meeting with an open and inquisitive mind and heart to see if you can engage with their emotions. This will aid in shrinking your fear and will also likely have a fabulous byproduct. The person you are meeting with is apt to open up to you and a deeper connection will likely unfold.
3. Have you considered challenging yourself to face your fears? One thing that I love to do that perhaps is counter-intuitive is to actually seek out opportunities and challenges that stir up a healthy batch of fear. Learning to manage and direct this fear is liberating and also can be quite powerful. I’m not sure what these situations might be for you; it depends on your fears. For example, one of my fears is skydiving (this is one sure way to quickly conquer fear and have an internal explosion of confidence result). Also I do not like attending events alone, especially ones I’ve never been to before. I believe just about all of us human-types experience fear before walking into a room full of people we don’t know. Here’s the thing, the more you do it, the less scary it is and the more comfortable it becomes. Remember, most people are also feeling nervous or afraid! While everyone is pretty much feeling the same way, very few people talk about or admit it. Think of this the next time you walk into a room full of strangers. Hopefully it’ll make you smile and remind you to chill out!
For those who live with fear, my desire is for you to find hope, strength, or an idea that you can apply to your own life, so that you may take that bold step forward or move beyond your perceived current limitations enforced by your fear. Or, perhaps my stories caused your lip to curl with a smirk of “uh-huh.” There’s comfort in knowing you are not alone.
How does fear show up in your life, personally and/or professionally? Is fear a source of motivation and drive or does it cripple and paralyze you? Does fear prevent you from fulfilling your potential? How do you manage fear? Please share your thoughts and experience in the comments. If you’d rather share them with me privately, then please email me.