Some people are naturally optimistic. I’m not one of them. Put a goal in front of me and I’ll obsess about why I can’t do it. Self-doubt’s been the single best motivating force behind my achievement and it can be yours too. Fear makes sense. For primitive man it kept us out of danger from predators. Today fear often arises in the face of change, uncertainty, and loss of control. That’s the good news. It means we’re breaking new ground, poised for learning, creation, and breaking free of limitations.
The question is this “how can fear be my friend?”
1. Remember that fear equals growth
When I’m afraid I’m growing, something new is happening, and it’s usually something good. After all, who wants to stay the same forever? Sure, we all think we want to be comfortable, but tell the truth, don’t you get bored when life’s too predictable? It’s easy to let fear push us off balance, but we need to change our value system. Instead of longing for safety, try longing for the growth, skills and self-development that happens as a result of facing our fear.
Try this: Remind yourself that courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s the ability to take creative action in the face of our fear.
2. Make peace with failure
Risk is risky. We’ve all failed and yet, the very act of trying developed new skills, more character, and enhanced self -knowledge. When we focus on what could go wrong and why we’ll fail and who you became through the process. Risking failure isn’t nearly as big a risk as a life lived without stretching, or big dreams and goals. We grow into who we are when we’re capable of handling the tension of desire without a guaranteed outcome.
Consider this: What if you fail? What’s the very worst thing that might happen? What’s really at stake? For many of us what’s mostly at stake is our identity. I’ll look bad, loose face etc. We also have to access what’s at stake if we don’t try. Is our Ego identity more important than the life and results we really want to create?.
3. Manage bad memories
I have a friend who says fear is an acronym for Future Events Appearing Real. If we’ve experienced excruciating failures in the past we’re less likely to take courageous action in the face of our fear today. Yet, we forget that past failure is just that…past! When we project past failure and accompanying emotions such as shame, rejection, and loss into future events we’re recreating the same “reality”over and over again. We can create an entirely new future in this moment by letting go of the old story and creating a new one in this moment.
Try this: Remember a time in which you failed and from it, felt shame, guilt, doubt, or loss. Replay it but hit the dimmer switch as if you were watching it from far away on a grainy small screen with lots of static, only in black and while and grey. Replay it 3-5 times having it get dimmer and less visible each time.
4. Leverage good memories
Recalling success events in which you had a positive outcome when facing something you were afraid of is like taking your mind to the gym—a kind of strength training for optimism and positivity. If we’ve had past success, which you most certainly have, you’ll be more motivated to repeat the actions that brought you success if you focus on them.
Try this: Recall a success memory; a time when you faced fear and had a positive outcome. Remember it in vibrant living color, with theatrical sound and 3-D visuals. As you watch it focus on the positive feelings you experienced and the productive behaviors and actions you took. Make this as real as you can…experiencing positive emotions as if they are happening now. Do this 3-5 times letting it become more vivid each time.
5. Harness the energy
Fear is adrenaline and adrenaline is energy. If you look back on your life you might see that some of the most frightening challenging times of life were also your most passionate, purposeful, and exciting as well. Fear doesn’t necessarily mean something’s wrong and we need to stop. Make it your friend. Appreciate fear for the energy and stimulation it brings. Use it as a call to action to learn new skills and practice courage.
Consider this: Imagine your fear as a good friend that comes to walk beside you whenever you need energy for growth and change. I hope this has been helpful in your path toward a better relationship with fear. What are you afraid of? Share your story and get feedback from the Pathways community on our Awake & Alive community page.