This week, we are talking about the famous F-word…that’s right – fear!
We all have fears, worries, and doubts in our life.
In fact, it is impossible to not have some fear in life. The thing about fear is that it comes in all shapes and sizes. It can come roaring in like a lion or sneak in ever so subtly and keep you from doing that thing that you really want to do.
Mary Morrisey, in a recent piece on fear, describes fear below.
”Fear is the border of the reality we currently know. It is the edge of our comfort zone and only by facing our fears can we move past them to create the life we would love to live.”Mary Morrisey
Read that again and again and let it sink in. Then think back to fear in your life. That really fits doesn’t it?
We are afraid of change and the unknown. Fear can suck the life right out of us. It can cripple and paralyze us and cause us to stay stuck and anxious, imagining all sorts of things that haven’t happened and most likely will never happen. In fact, about 90% of all the things we are fearful of never happen.
On the flip side, if handled properly, fear can be a great tool for personal growth. It can cause us to move out of our comfort zone into a place of new possibility and opportunity in our life. It can help us realize goals that perhaps we didn’t know we had before.
Fear happens – all the time. Here are 3 steps I take to help me not just work through my fears, but use them as opportunities for growth.
1. Grab ahold of your runaway thoughts and calm your mind
When we are freaking out and our thoughts are spiraling, we can’t think clearly. We are perpetuating worst-case-scenarios and what-ifs and most likely building a molehill into a mountain.
To get ahold of my thoughts, I like to practice some deep breathing: inhale for the count of 3 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, exhale for 3 seconds. I do this for at least 3 minutes. If this doesn’t work for you, you can try a meditation similar to what Donna offers every other Tuesday in our Mindfulness & Meditation Class.
Your goal is to get your body in a relaxed state and release some of those feel good hormones. This will allow us to step back from the situation and look at it from a different point of view with a calm mind.
2. Write down the worst that can happen if your fear comes true.
This sounds pretty negative, but trust me – it helps. Write down your fear at the top of a page. Now, under that, make a column for The worst that can happen. Under this column, write down all the horrible things you are imagining. Write them in detail and include why you are scared of these things if there are any rollover effects.
Perhaps there is talk of your company laying off employees, and you are worried about paying bills, what you will tell your friends, or how you will find another job if you are laid off.
After writing them down, oftentimes it is easy to see how much our thoughts have spiraled about whatever it is that is bringing us fear in the first place. You can see that these fears listed above are immediate fears that pop up instinctively, but with careful budgeting and planning, you can make a plan for the interim (also, did you consider your potential payout package?), true friends understand life is full of surprises, and after a quick job search, you will likely see that there are many other opportunities.
Writing down the worst case scenarios gives you more control over them and gives you a sense of power as you find ways to mitigate them.
3. Write down the best that can happen if your fear comes true.
This is where a lot of personal growth will happen. Next to the first column, create a second column titled The best that can happen.
Maybe, to overcome this fear and feel prepared to face it, you need to learn a new skill that you have been putting off learning. This is an area where you will grow and is a tangible skill you can add to your resume.
Perhaps, out of fear of being laid off, you have the opportunity to address the question of what you really want to be doing and to go after that whole-heartedly (with a little push from our friend fear).
Use this column to write all the positive outcomes that will come about out of you overcoming this fear.
After I write these down, I typically start to get a little excited, as I love new challenges and adventures. Getting strategic about overcoming your fear makes it less of a fear and more of a new project you are taking on.
When you list all of the positives you can start to see the possibilities of pursuing a dream you had sitting on a shelf.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I continually have to reign my thoughts and emotions in as they keep heading back into fear and freak out. But what’s important is to keep bringing them back into a place of, “I’ve got this.”
Use fear as your friend! Take control of those thoughts.
“Fears are nothing more than a state of mind.”Napolean Hill
What do you think? How do you address your fears? Share your thoughts with me below!