“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.”
When was the last time your heart was pounding, your stomach was churning, and you started to sweat… all because of fear? It happens to all of us from time-to-time, and despite the uncomfortable feeling, it can be valuable to understand and embrace it. For me, it’s a physical reminder that I’m operating out of my comfort zone, and therefore (hopefully) growing.
Fear can be a paralyzing emotion. And, it can be extremely different from one person to the next: something that might be simple for one person can panic and paralyze someone else. Depending on your experience and degree of risk tolerance, scary stuff can take various forms:
- Traveling to foreign countries
- Having a discussion with someone who disagrees with you
- Following up on leads for new business development
- Going to events where you don’t know anyone
In his TED talk, Tim Ferriss says: “Fear is your friend. Fear is an indicator. Sometimes it shows you what you shouldn’t do. More often than not it shows you exactly what you should do. And the best results that I’ve had in life, the most enjoyable times, have all been from asking a simple question: What’s the worst that can happen?” Focusing on what you can control versus what you can’t control makes fear manageable.
Avoidance is the natural response to fear. Fear is painful, and we are programmed to reduce pain where possible. But, just like with stress and other negative sensations, a certain amount of fear is actually quite good for you. The more you can face a particular fear and overcome it, the stronger you become. Instead of giving fear the power, you take control and make forward progress.
Whenever you are faced with different options and one (or more) creates those familiar fearful emotions, ask yourself two questions:
- What is the worse thing that could happen if I make this choice and face my fear?
- How will I feel (both near and long term) if I don’t do this thing that scares me?
I recently had an opportunity present itself that created a few weeks of indecision. Should I “go for it”, taking some time for myself and making progress on a personal goal, or choose to stay home and continue with my “normal day-to-day” life? Working through my reactions to the two questions above, I decided to stand up to my fear. And, guess what? No regrets…and a bit more personal growth.
What are the fears that you need to shine a light on and confront honestly and openly?
“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”
— Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister