First of all, let me say that sometimes, fear is a good thing. Fear can save you from danger, or from doing something impulsive or just plain dumb. I’m writing to you today about the fear that gets in your way caused by self-doubt, tackling something new, or building something big. So, here’s what I do when I feel that terror (which is sometimes burning in my stomach, and at other times, lodged in my throat, blocking my ability to breathe).
I have purposefully not googled how others manage fear. Perhaps I will after I’ve posted this because I might be missing out on some real gems! But I want my thoughts about fear management to you to be original.
You are not alone! So, let me get right to how I manage my fear, and how that also might work for you. These 11 Blast-Through-Fear tools usually work for me, so give them a try!
1. Identify That You’re Feeling Fear
Learn the difference between fear and other feelings. You might be feeling and thinking like you are about to make a huge mistake. I make a pro and con list to make sure that I’m not about to bury myself in regret. Usually, I come to learn that what I’m feeling has no logic. It’s just simple fear. So, I push on.
2. Objectify Fear Visually
I’ve used this one since I was a little girl. When I close my eyes and SEE fear, it is often in front of me, massive in size compared with myself, and it’s dark and lacks transparency. Like smoke or heavy fog. Who in their right mind would push through that?
So, I have reinvented what my fear looks like. For me, I envision fear as a little girl in a pinafore jumper. She is about 6 years old, has puffy white sleeves underneath her jumper, and wears white-socked Mary Jane’s. Sometimes she has a large spiral-colored lollipop. Oh! And two braids. But here’s the most useful thing: she is walking next to me, she is smaller than I am, and I am holding her hand.
What I’m telling you is that I hold fear by the hand, next to me, instead of in front of me. She is smaller than I am. I’m looking after her, but I am clearly the boss of my own fear. I partner with fear, but I am still its parent.
3. Learning Builds Confidence
Educate yourself on the basics of whatever it is that you want to do, but are afraid of doing. Don’t spend weeks learning about it because that’s not really educating yourself. That’s just procrastination so you don’t have to move forward and face the risks. Just learn the basics. Learn what could go wrong. Craft an alternate plan for what might go wrong, then learn what will most likely go right. And then DO it! Dare!
4. Visualize Yourself 30 Years From Now
I did my internship in a nursing home, end of life stuff, so I often asked the residents what they regretted most in their lives. Without exception, they never told me what they regretted doing. But I listened for hours about what they regretted NOT doing. Don’t put yourself in a position of having to live with your own regrets. Risk! Take a chance!
Looking back on your life, I’d much rather be wondering about how and where you got the courage to do all of the things you tried doing! You’ll just be SO much more interesting. And don’t you value people who are interesting?
5. Expect To Be Successful
I’m not much for psycho-babble, but we’ve all heard this same message over and over, however, re-marketed it’s been: Positive Thinking. The Secret. Laws Of Attraction. It’s just a commercialized repackaging of a message. But that core message has HUGE merit! You are absolutely going to get what you expect. Count on it. Even if things don’t work out as perfectly as you imagined, the positive outlook you’ll bring to conquering your terrifying quest will be something you feel proud of. And you more than likely will have learned something new, which in my mind, is always a positive.
6. Imagine Yourself As A Speck
When I’m really getting terrified, this is the strategy I use if I’m DESPERATE for some courage. I usually use it when I’m about to risk utter and complete public humiliation!
Here’s what I do. I zoom myself out, practically touching the moon, and then I look back towards earth and squint until I see myself. I am an insignificant speck! Now that might sound to you like I’m seeing myself as insignificant. Well, maybe. But what I learned from doing this is that making a total ass of myself doesn’t matter one bit. Not only am I a tiny little speck, but I am also a tiny little speck that will be gone in the blink of an eye. I am finite. So for me, remembering that my time on earth is finite, and also remembering that no one will be alive to remember my failures in 100 years, is incredibly liberating. Try it. It might work for you too.
7. Others’ Opinions Only Matter If They Do
For me, respect is earned. In that regard, I think I might have a leg-up on some people because of my own personality. I tend not to give one fig about what others think of me unless I put real weight on who they are and what they think. That said, most of the people who’ve gained my respect over the years are more than likely to applaud the effort of others, regardless of the level of success the effort brings. I respect people who support me rather than people who compete against me because they’re too busy bettering themselves. I’ve just never been one to hang onto every word of a nay-sayer. But that’s me. So, if someone trashes you anonymously on the internet, for example, ask yourself how much courage that really took? Consider the opinions of others commensurate with who they actually are. Great people teach and offer helpful suggestions and support. Small people criticize and offer no better solutions to gain credibility with me. Load that one into your LV Big Bag.
8. Remember Your Wins
Try reflecting on things that you’ve done that were pretty terrifying. Childbirth comes to mind for me! Whoa! Had I known! And yet I did know because I did it more than once. What did you accomplish, achieve, or complete, either through effort or by mistake, that took enormous courage? Foster those thoughts. They’re in your win or overcame columns because you pushed through your own fear. Good for you.
9. Feel Your Future Regret and Self-Disappointment
Isn’t there something you really wish you’d had the stones to do but didn’t? I could write a book! We all could. So use those nagging memories as tools to propel yourself forward. Post an opinion with your name on it. Jump out of an airplane (I would never!), get that great-new-company-idea LLC’d. Get in the game! I want you to one day be able to tell a person who asks you about your life regrets to say, “NOT ONE DAMN THING.”
10. Surround Yourself With Capable People
This article is inspired by me flying an airplane. Believe me, I had a capable young pilot sitting next to me, or I would have been tucked safely inside my locked car in the airport parking lot. I have people in my life who manage numbers (not my strong suit). I have social media experts. Website designers. I have people I can call or people who are right next to me, to save me from myself! I know that I can’t be great at, nor can I learn, everything. But what I can do is surround myself with people who diminish my fears, to make fear more manageable.
11. Remember That Heroes Have Courage and Cowards Do Not
I’m not going to tell you to go be your own hero because that would be trite and I’m not big on that. But what I will ask you to think over is whether you want to see yourself as a coward or as a brave and courageous woman with a lot of substance. With more than a pinch of gall. I’ve made so many mistakes in my life, but I’m pretty sure no one could or would ever call me chicken. So, don’t be your own chicken. (Thank goodness I found my way around trite).
Please, kick your fear into the gutter where it belongs! Take a measured and educated risks. Do your homework. And then have a go. You’re just a speck on borrowed time! What have you got to lose?
Thoughts Of Fellow Powerful Women Like You….
“I hope you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there.” ~ Nora Ephron
“Well behaved women seldom make history.” ~ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” ~ Oprah
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself aloud.” ~ Coco Chanel
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt