Making Friends With Fear
Fear is ever-present and an inescapable part of being human. Where there is a dream, there is fear. Where there is change, there is fear. Along with new opportunities, come fear. Yet somehow, fear has been vilified. We have come to think of fear is inherently bad—something to avoid or eliminate. But the truth is fear plays an important and meaningful role in our growth and development.
In “Take Yourself to the Top” Laura Berman Fortgang wrote “Every choice you make is rooted either in fear or in courage.” Like the two sides of a coin, fear and courage are closely melded together. When you toss the coin into the air each day, which side have you been landing on? If fear seems to be prevailing, try these strategies to make a friend of fear. Only then will your coin be able to safely land on courage.
Respond to fear rather than react to it
What is your natural way of dealing with fear? Many times we simply react. Re-act. We STOP!, we change direction, we settle for something less fear-inducing, or we ignore it and struggle forward in spite of our fear. None of those reactions makes the best use of our fears. These reactions actually prevent us from fully achieving what we desire or dream.
The first step toward making friends with fear is to stop reacting to it and start responding. Our fears are there because they are trying to tell us something about ourselves. When we respond to our fears, we are taking the time to listen and then make changes, correct something, or create something that we need. At the first sign of fear, STOP, LISTEN and RESPOND. The longer you ignore it, the more likely you are to react and regret.
Listen to the fear as you would a trusted friend
What if you viewed your fears as a friend instead? What would your friend want you to know? What is it asking of you? When we react to fear, we usually are trying to turn off the “negative” emotion. It’s uncomfortable for us and we want to withdraw from it.
Embrace it! Love it as you would a friend. It is not asking you to shrink away from your ambitions, hopes, dreams, opportunities or possibilities. It is asking MUCH MORE of you than that. It’s asking you to Act Bigger. To be self interested, self preserving. Dream big but take care. Have a Plan B. And a Plan C. If you fear failure, build a safety net so that you can get back up and keep moving forward rather than having to spend time and energy putting pieces together. If you fear rejection, give yourself acceptance—fully.
If you are finding that fear is holding you back, try this: Write down the fear-based messages you are dealing with. (For example, What if I fail? What if this doesn’t work out? What if they say no? What if they say yes? I am afraid of losing. I can’t do this.)
Look at these messages and ask yourself…what is my friend fear trying to tell me? What is it asking of me? Is it true? Write down your response for each fear based message you have listed.
Finally, reflect on this question: Who would I be without these messages?
Take your fear to the end
Recently, I discussed fear with a budding entrepreneur. I asked him what his biggest fear was and he said “fear of failure”. What is failure?, I wondered. He explained “losing all my families money, savings, home, and being bankrupt.” “And, what if you failed? What would you do?” I asked. He thought for a moment and said “I’d start over…plus, I would never let it get that far. I would get out way before losing my house and all my savings.” Ok, then “what do you have to do to safeguard you and your family against losing everything?” And, after a few minutes of listing what had to be done, his fear was settled. It had been heard, responded to, and taken to it’s natural conclusion. No more mystery. His coin could now flip to courage because he knew, once and for all, that he would be OK if his business did fail. Failure, for him, wasn’t about whether this particular business stayed afloat or made a ton of money…he could always try something else. Instead, it was keeping his family afloat that mattered most. And that requires something different from him…something he knows how to ensure.
It’s really that simple to be on friendly terms with your fears. Take your fears out of the dark and examine them in the light. Ask them what they want you to know, and/or do. Carry them to their natural conclusion—keep asking “what if that happens” and quickly you will have the answer. You will know what to do. You will have responded to the fear rather than reacted to it. You will have a new friend in fear. Now, go flip that coin and start acting out of courage with your friend fear right behind you!
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© 2006, Shawn Driscoll, Succeed Coaching & Development. This article is provided courtesy of Shawn Driscoll, Career Success Coach and owner of www.succeedcoaching.com. Professionals: upgrade your work life today! We provide products and services to help you succeed at work, in business and in life. Sign up to receive your free Success Wise ezine—and get success tips, inspiration, and resources to skyrocket your success—at www.succeedcoaching.com.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Career Success Coach Shawn Driscoll, of Succeed Coaching & Development is a certified coach, speaker and the author of “The Ultimate Guide to Landing Your Ideal Job”. As an expert on career transition and the art of reinventing yourself she can teach you how to take control of your career and create your ideal work-life. To learn more about her classes and programs and to get your FREE Career Accelerator Toolkit, visit www.succeedcoaching.com.