In my work as well as in my personal life I frequently see and understand what a profound role fear plays in all of our lives. Some might not recognize or call some of their behaviors fearful yet if we dig deep enough that’s almost always what holds us back. It’s rarely the life threatening fear that gets in our way but rather the seemingly small stuff that holds us hostage from the greatness that we so often desire. Here are some simple and time-tested ways to overcome your fears, and take your life in a new direction.
Try the “so what” technique to address what really concerns you. Let’s say you can’t get promoted at work until you become a proficient public speaker yet the thought of speaking in front of others sends you into a panicked frenzy. Most likely public speaking scares you because you don’t want to make a fool out of yourself in front of others. And to that I say, “So what if you make a fool out of yourself?” What really do you have to lose? Your co-workers may say, “Well that was awkward” but really what else is likely to happen? If you don’t learn to speak publicly you are stuck right where you are but if you get comfortable with being a poor public speaker than it’s only a matter of time until you improve.
The brilliant author of The Harry Potter book series, J.K. Rowling recently released a novel directed at adults. The hype around the book was huge and Rowling was continually asked if she was worried that the book wouldn’t be as popular as the Harry Potter series. Her response was enlightened in that she would frequently say, “So what if it isn’t. I’ve faced worse things in my life.” Isn’t that exactly it for all of us? What’s the worse that can happen if you try something new? You fail? So what? Is it worse to fail than to never have tried at all? And doesn’t failing eventually teach you something that will help you succeed in the future?
Another great way to overcome your fears is to address the silly storyteller in your brain. It’s that storyteller that says, “You can’t do this, give it up.” Isn’t it time to give the storyteller a new story one that has a happier ending for you? Often the storyteller tells us to not try new things because we might get hurt or hurt others. “Don’t date that fabulous guy, he’s destined to break your heart.” Or “Only selfish, bad moms pursue the career of their dreams! You should focus every second on your children!” Here’s the deal with these stories, they are just that, stories. They are rarely based in any reality or backed up by evidence. The stories are simply something that you’ve gotten in the habit of accepting.