Is fear holding you back? Many of my clients confide that what really limits them isn’t the economy, or their age, or where they’re located, or the current state of their industry. What really holds them back is fear.
Clients voice fears of actively promoting themselves, fears of raising their fees, fears of taking on new, and larger projects and fears of doing something for the first time. Oprah Winfrey said, “Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”
Life is too short to be held back by fear!
Here are some of my favorite tips for facing fear head-on.
- Face your fear and identify it. Maybe you’re not really afraid of “public speaking.” What you’re really afraid of is failure. Or embarrassment. Get a coach, practice a lot, warm yourself up on small, friendly audiences. Sometimes we think we’re afraid of one thing, when we’re really afraid of something else. You can’t defeat your fear if you don’t know what it is.
- Role play your way past what scares you. Often, it’s fear of the unknown, not fear of the actual situation that stops us. Role playing with a supportive coach can help you feel at home with any setting, give you practice and confidence in the situation, so the fear goes away.
- Remember that EVERYONE is afraid. Have you ever read an interview with a famous singer or actor/actress and heard them disclose that they feel like throwing up every time they are about to go on stage from stage fright? But they push past it, and once they’re doing what they love, they forget to be afraid. If they can do it, so can you!
- Step back from your feelings and let your head rule for a while. Fear is in the heart. Your heart is important, but sometimes, emotions can be overwhelming, especially if what you fear has roots in old failures or past dysfunctional relationships. This is where your head can save you. Step back and observe yourself. Ask what advice you would give to someone else with the same problem.
- Take a time out. Sometimes we focus on something for so long, it looms overly large in our thinking. Go work on another project for a while or make some phone calls to break up your focus. Take ten minutes to meditate or just stare out the window and daydream.
- Distract yourself. One way to deal with fear is to distract yourself so you don’t obsess over whatever it is that scares you. Find a way to redirect your focus. Go for a walk (exercise is great for distraction), read a book, look at motivational quotes, flip through relaxing or funny pictures in an album or on Pinterest, change the subject for a while. It really helps.
- Start over. If you’re spinning your wheels and feeling frustrated, come at the problem from another angle. Set aside what you’re doing, get a clean sheet of paper, and start over from a different vantage point. You may decide the new way clears obstacles from your path, or you may find a way to salvage your first try. But there’s something liberating about a fresh start that can take the fear away.
- Prepare. Some experts claim that it takes 10,000 hours of preparation to master something. Maybe you don’t have quite that long to prepare, but every repetition builds confidence and skill. Don’t try to wing it. You gain a wonderful sense of control when you know you’re well-prepared.
- Help others. The old teaching maxim of “watch one, do one, teach one” rings true. There’s no better way to test what you know and find the holes where you need to learn more than by helping someone else learn the same subject. Even if you don’t have the opportunity to help someone with the same topic, just by moving into helper mode, you open up compassion and shift your emotional state away from fear because you get your mind off yourself.
- Realize that even heroes are afraid. Take action anyway. Don’t let fear stop you. You’re bigger than it is.
As John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”