Have you ever let a fear hold you back from taking a risk or action that you knew deep down would help you?
Have you ever avoided an important conversation or turned down an opportunity that could have improved your life all because you felt that little pang of panic, anxiety or fear?
I know I sure have.
Like you, I’ve let fear hold me back from taking bold actions that would’ve propelled me forward.
I’m a pretty outgoing guy, but there was a time when public speaking petrified me.
I was more than happy to avoid the spotlight of the stage, but it was starting to hurt my business and my confidence.
I had to do something. I had to figure out away to deal with this irrational fear.
So I read book and blogs. I watched videos and experimented with a bunch of different methods to overcome fear, but none of them really tied it all together for me in a way that was clear, simple and consistent.
Until I created my own system, put it in play and broke through…
I got out of my way, faced my fear of public speaking and gained huge amounts of energy and tremendous confidence. Now I love to stand in front of a crowd speaking, sharing my message and entertaining the audience.
Today I’m going to share with you the simple 6 step system that I used to help me, but first let’s talk about fear.
The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear. – Mahatma Gandhi
You know what fear is right?
Fear is an emotion generated by a threat, real or imagined, which can cause future harm. Most of the fear that holds you back is not real, it’s the imagined kind.
The fears are made up by your brain, your ego and your subconscious. They are fears derived from past experiences and future unknowns.
The fears are not real, yet you’ve programmed yourself to believe they are real.
There are a ton of fears out there, from fear of flying, to spiders, to the fear of going outside your house, but I want to focus on the four fears that will stop you dead in your tracks:
- Fear of failure
- Fear of criticism
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of success
These are the deep seated imagined fears that are at the root of your inability to live the life you’re meant to live. These are the fears you must overcome.
Approach your fears as opportunities for growth.
You don’t really want to be afraid and let your fears rule, do you? If you think about what your life might be like if you weren’t afraid of failure, criticism, rejection or success, whatever it is, you know that things would be better.
If you can objectively appraise the advantages to moving past your fear, you may come to see your fear as an opportunity to grow.
The adage, “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” and all of its various permutations (e.g., “no guts, no glory”) are based on the time-tested principle that we can’t grow if we don’t allow ourselves to be stretched.
Think of the benefits of overcoming fear and the cost of missed opportunities.
The biggest risk that people fail to consider is the benefit they lose by avoiding high risk/high reward opportunities. Without taking risk, you can live a quiet and reasonably happy life, but you’re unlikely going to lead the bigger life you truly desire and deserve.
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt
Take a risk, face your fear and grow.
6 Steps to start overcoming your fears, right now
- Get present in the now – The first step when you feel fear is to breathe, center and slow down your emotional fear based responses. Your breath creates a pause and gives you a chance to re-engage your thinking brain. With your thinking brain back in the mix you can create awareness around your fear. But without a pause, your fear takes over and you are on your way to letting it control you. So you absolutely must stop and breathe. This will take some time to become habit, but once you do, you will unlock the door to overcoming your fear.
- Create awareness around your fear – Before you can begin overcoming fear, you have to get specific about what exactly you’re afraid of. Create awareness of your fears. You must name your fear and know exactly how it impacts you. What are you really scared of? Become an observer of your inner space. Get curious about what thoughts generate your fear, where do you feel the fear, and how do you react to it? Again, be an observer of what is going on. What is the root of your fear? Look inside and ask yourself when the fear started. The good news is that the more you face your fears, bring them to the surface, and analyze them rationally with your thinking brain, the more you’re likely to weaken those fears. When you know yourself, you will also begin to understand your fear and how to face it.
- Commit to facing the fear and don’t give yourself a way out – When success and failure are the only options, do what the leaders of ancient Greek armies did to keep the armies fighting. They burnt the boats upon landing on shore so there was no going back. With no way to make it home besides victory, the resolve of the soldiers was strengthened. When success and failure are the only options, you have no choice but to follow through and face your fear.
- Start facing the fear daily – Once you have awareness of your fear and you’ve gotten to know it, the most effective way to knock it out of your life is to face it. Start off with small steps and build up your confidence until the fear is more manageable and you are ready for the big action. As you work with the fear more, you’ll also gain more and more awareness of how you can tackle it big time.
- Face your fear and take big action – With your confidence rising, the most successful approach to vanquish your fear is to confront the fear head on and take big action. When you take big action and face your fears, they become weaker, because you realize that reality isn’t nearly as bad as your imagination. As soon as you do, you’ll begin accumulating experience and knowledge, gaining confidence and power to face it again.
- Repeat – Don’t stop taking bold actions until your fear is minimized and it is behind you. If you want to conquer your fear, don’t give up. Keep at it.
I used this exact system to overcome my fear of criticism and rejection aka public speaking.
Time to get to work and crush your fears
- Write a paragraph or two about how your life will be different when you overcome a fear that has dogged you for so long, and why the potential benefits are worth the risk.
- Take a few minutes and make a list of the pros and cons of dealing with the thing that you’re afraid of:
- What are the benefits of overcoming that fear?
- How will your life be different if your conquered it?
- Commit to take one powerful action towards facing your fear today and begin the 6 Steps
Don’t let your fears hold you back any longer. Stand strong and reap the benefits of higher confidence and greater success.
I’d love to hear from you
What is the one fear, that if you conquered it, would change your life and why?
Make your comment specific as your stories, ideas and experiences help us all. Thanks for being here, for contributing, for listening and for being a part of my journey. – Derek
Image courtesy: Kevin B 3