No matter who you are and how well versed you are at goal setting, there are a number of experiences we have all encountered at one time or another when en route to our goals. One of the most common is fear. The bigger your goals are, the greater the fear you are likely to encounter. Looking at fear from the outside, it seems ridiculous to allow the mere possibility of something less than optimal occurring keep us from attempting something, but fear is one emotion that is so powerful, it can lead to delays or even hold even the best and brightest back from achieving their dreams.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the definition of fear.
Fear –noun 1.a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
Now that we have a general idea what fear is, we can take a closer look at the ways in which it appears in our day to day lives. For some it is a small blip on the radar, for others, it’s a crippling reality, rearing it’s ugly head and acting as a virtual roadblock, standing in between their God given potential.
Since none of us is immune to fear and we will all experience it at one time or another, doesn’t it make sense to demystify it and find ways to harness it to work for us and our greater good, rather than hold us back?
Let’s look at a very simple formula for conquering fear.
Five Steps to Overcoming Fear
1. Catch yourself in the midst of feeling the fear. It is so easy to get caught up in the cycle of telling yourself and others, “I’m so afraid, I’m so afraid, I’m terrified,” etc. Have you ever had this type of dialogue running around in your head on repeat? The more you say this, the more the fear grows. If you can catch this mental chatter while it’s occurring, you can take the next step in directing it. I have seen people use fear as a means of getting attention from their loved ones. Of course if they are anxious or afraid, their loved ones will give them extra attention, therefore though they are not likely aware of it, the fear is serving them as a means of getting love. Become conscious of what you do when fear arises for you.
2. Name your fear. Identify exactly what it is that you are afraid of. Give that big, bad monster a name. For example, in your business are you afraid of failing? Are you afraid of making mistakes or costly decisions? Are you afraid of being an entrepreneur without a safety net? Might that pose a problem in making progress for you? Now let’s look at the flip side. Are you afraid of success? What if you become successful? Are you afraid your success might impact your relationships with family, friends or significant other? These are all very powerful fears that I see quite often when working with my coaching clients.
And here’s another biggie -fear relating to love. Are you afraid of falling in love? Are you afraid of getting close to another person and feeling worried that the relationship might end? Are you afraid it won’t last? Are you afraid of being happy? I have seen people sabotage amazing relationships with amazing people because they were afraid it was too good to be true. Fear of the unknown is a common dilemma, however the faster you can name it and pinpoint what the fear is on the deeper level, the greater your ability to decrease the fear’s power over you. Giving the fear a name instantly decreases it’s power.
3. Get more specific and write it down. Fear of the unknown is a common description but getting even more specific at this stage will allow you to identify and then take the appropriate measures to prevent the fears from becoming a reality. After you name it, write down on a piece of paper more detail of what the fear is about. If the fear was relating to your work, write down the various scenarios that are running through your head. “I’m afraid I will make a mistake and disappoint my parents, my spouse, my children, myself.” If the fear was in the area of love, clarify the fear as best you can. “I’m afraid of falling in love, that if I fall in love, the other person won’t love me back. I’m afraid I may move too fast or I’m afraid of being so close to another person because my first marriage ended in divorce. If this happens, then it means I am a failure at love and will end up alone.” If your fear causes you to hold back, withdraw or give less than your best, it often leads to the creation of the result you DON”T want! What you dwell upon long enough and strong enough becomes your reality. At this stage, you are looking at the negative side long enough to acknowledge the potential downside, which is often nowhere near as bad as we are making it seem. Normally there is a dreadful scenario that replays in your imagination and that preoccupation makes it so. Writing it down on paper is another step in taking your power back. Only then will you be ready for the next steps which is where you create the breakthrough.
4. Take measures to prevent the fears from becoming reality. For many of you, taking the first three steps may be all you needed to get a handle on the fear and put it behind you. The act of dissecting and looking it in the eye so to speak is often all you need to see how the fear became inflated and blown out of proportion. However, if the fear is still prevalent, now is the time to take action to the best of your ability and create a plan for ensuring the fear doesn’t become a reality. You cannot control the wind, but you can control the set of your sail. Consult with capable others such as qualified peers, trusted advisers a coach or mentor. Often having the benefit of an outside perspective can set you on the right path. After consulting qualified advisers, you may decide that the fear is a warning you wish to heed and that you are not willing to take the risk. That is totally okay. It’s your life and you’re the captain of the ship and you live with the consequences either way. If you choose to proceed, there are always measures you can take to stack the odds in your favor. This gives you a constructive place to invest your thought, time and energy in a place other than worry. You are making a commitment to do everything you can to manifest what you desire.
5. Imagine the best case scenario, write it down and redirect your attention there. W. Clement Stone calls this being inverse paranoid, which means you are always expecting the best to happen. The reason your fear felt so big in the first place was because your imagination ran wild with it to some degree. I say once you have crafted your plan and made the decision to proceed, now is the time to invest at least the same energy into dwelling on the positive possibilities. It’s a lot more constructive and fun, isn’t it? Imagine all of the ways things will work out and all the good that will come from venturing beyond your comfort zone and pursuing what you truly desire.
“What you dwell upon long enough and strong enough becomes your reality.” -Jill Koenig
In the end, there are no guarantees. Life is an adventure. The greater the risk, the greater the reward but ultimately the greatest risk is taking no risk at all. If something doesn’t work out the way you had hoped, you can certainly learn from it and apply it to future endeavors. Let whatever happens impact you for the better and expect the best, come what may. In the end, everything moves you toward growth and your greater good, so be open to learning, have fun and make the best of it no matter what.
Live Your Dreams,