Fear. Worry. Self-doubt. They can keep us frozen in our tracks, unable to move forward no matter how much our heart is yearning for change in our lives. Here are 7 practical tools for facing fear and bridging the gap between where you are and where you want to be in life.
7 tools for facing fear and self-doubt
1. Practice reverse-paranoia.
When we give birth to a new idea, dream or goal, most of us immediately start to mentally list all of the reasons why it won’t work out, or why we’re not good enough to make it happen. This automatic negative thinking is just a deep-rooted habit, and it can be changed.
Next time you have a new idea, dream or goal, practice ‘reverse-paranoia’ — that is, think about all of the reasons why it could very well work out, and why you are up to the task of making it happen.
You will be surprised just how many reasons you come up with, and it might give you the motivation and inspiration you need to move forward.
2. Redefine success and failure.
Most of us are so terrified of failure that we resist going after opportunities and giving new things a go.
What if, instead of seeing it as a ‘failure’ when you take a chance and it doesn’t work out, you see it as a ‘success’ that you tried in the first place?
You could see it as more of a failure to remain stuck in the same unhappy or unfulfilling situation, than it is to take a chance that doesn’t work out as you’d hoped.
Also, remember that when you try new things, you never truly fail — even if the outcome wasn’t officially a success, you gained valuable lessons and experience from the process.
3. Remember your big ‘Why’.
It’s easy to lose sight of our big picture motivations and values in life, and focus on the here-and-now actions that we’re afraid of undertaking.
It can be daunting to attend a networking event on your own, submit the first manuscript of your book, or ask someone out on a date — but it helps if you remember your big ‘Why’ behind these actions. Like, your strong drive to enhance your career, your longing to be an author and share your stories with the world, or your deep desire to find and fall in love with your soul mate.
4. Observe your emotions as they arise.
When a strong emotion like fear or anxiety arises, it can be tempting to sit back and let the emotion consume you. It takes over your mind and body, and you lose control.
Next time you feel fear, try to observe the emotion as it arises in your body — where can you feel it? What does it feel like? By observing the feeling, you immediately disassociate yourself from it, and can see it as more of a passing visitor than a permanent part of your identity.
If you keep observing your fear, it will rise and then slowly fade away, in the motion of an ocean wave.
5. Name the story.
We’ve all accumulated a range of limiting beliefs or ‘stories’ about ourselves and how the world works.
Maybe your story is that you’re shy and therefore hopeless at networking events. Maybe your story is that you’re not very creative and therefore can’t think of new ideas for your business.
These stories are not necessarily true — they are often just your ego-mind trying to keep you stuck, safe in the ‘known’ of your comfort zone.
So, next time you spot one of these stories playing out in your mind, call it out. “Hey, look at that! It’s my I’m So Shy story. Nice one, ego! Luckily I know better than to let it stop me attending this event.”
6. Look your worst-case-scenarios in the eye.
When we’re children, we’re scared of shadows in our bedroom at night — but when the light’s turned on, we see that it was just the silhouette of our friendly toys.
When we’re adults, we’re scared of what could go wrong, what other people might think about us, and how we’ll cope with big changes — but when we face our fears, by writing down exactly what it is we’re most afraid of, we realise it’s not so bad after all.
You may be hesitant to leave your relationship because you’re worried about what people will think — when you look at your fears more closely, you realise it’s more than likely that people will be understanding and supportive, and it doesn’t really matter what others think anyway, as you are the one who has to sleep in your bed at night.
You may be hesitant to take up a career in your dream field because you’re worried about failing or not being capable — when you look more closely, you realise it’s highly likely that you’ll pick up the wisdom and skills you need in due time, and that you’re more likely to succeed because it’s something you’re passionate about.
7. Remember your spirit is safe.
Your ego is easily battered and bruised when things don’t go to plan, when you try something and fail, or when other people seemingly judge or criticise your actions.
However, there is a deeper part of you — your spirit or true self — that can’t be harmed. It knows better than to worry about the opinion of others, and it knows that you’re much better of out in the arena trying the things you love, than sitting on the sidelines missing out on the opportunity for a deeply satisfying life.
So next time you feel frozen by fear, lean on this deeper, stronger, wiser part of you.
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