“Well then, I guess I’ll just have to do it afraid.” This is something I say to myself every time I feel a shred of fear or anxiety in my life, which might surprise you to know is a lot of the time. It’s a character flaw that I’ve always whined about to myself and any family members that would listen! It’s made me feel inferior when others were embracing exciting adventures, like skydiving. To this day I don’t see the point in jumping out of a perfectly good plane, but I admire the people who have done it. My fear stemmed from thinking I would end up on the 6 o’clock news. You know the spiel…
“…and in other news, a woman died during what seemed to be an ordinary sky jump that ended tragically. We’ll hear from her family and eyewitnesses right after this break.”
Yeah, I don’t want to end up on the news. At any time of the day.
In other ways though, at times it’s made me feel exactly the opposite of inferior – superior. Smarter. You know what I mean, “…well, I would never ride a hovercraft in the middle of the street, I mean, I’m smarter than that!” We’ve probably all said something similar to that at some point, albeit for things other than hovercraft.
But there is a kind of fear that keeps us from trying new things, an insecurity or low self-esteem even, that has that negative self-talk of, “You’ll never succeed, so why even try?” “Don’t tell them what you’re doing, because when you’ll fail, they’ll know about it.” This is the kind of fear that kept me from blogging for so long because, after all, what will people think? Will I sound stupid? Will “they” think I sound stupid? And by the way – who are the elusive “they” anyway? I’m going to hazard a guess that “they” aren’t in our closest circle of friends anyway, so why do we care what “they” think? And yet, here I was scared to death of what “they” would think.
And then – I got mad. I would get mad every time I would read a blog post with a typo or (seriously) a person whose writing style is even worse than mine. I would think, “Golly – I could write better than that, and I can’t even write!” I wasn’t thinking this in an arrogant way, but in a way that was motivating me to do what I wanted to do, which was to start a blog. The cool thing is, every time I would get mad, I would actually DO the thing I was afraid to do and I would keep telling myself, “Well then, I guess I’ll just have to do it afraid.” It wasn’t always a great first effort, but once I got over the hump of whatever it was I was trying to do, I’d discover that it actually wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined in the first place. Sometimes I have to tell myself that over and over and OVER again, but once it’s over, my fear is always worse than the actual experience.
In this list, I’m giving you some things that I do and use to reverse engineer my fears and get through whatever is making me feel insecure.
- Put a name to what you fear. Take a second to step back and decide if it’s actual fear, insecurity, inferiority – or whatever – what exactly are you afraid of? When I started doing Facebook live streams, it was a fear of actually looking stupid to my group, when I wanted (and still want) them to look at me as a resource and give *them* some confidence.
- Stop overthinking it. Ever heard of “analysis paralysis?” Trust me, analysis can grab on to you and you can become absolutely obsessed with learning about whatever it is you fear. It’s one thing to learn about it to get over your fears, but if you find yourself going through this endless loop, then you’re in analysis paralysis. You must find a way to get off that merry-go-round.
- Find someone doing what you want to do. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Have you heard the saying that you’re the average of the five people you hang around the most? Choose your tribe carefully; they can either inspire you and support you, or bring you down and make you feel defeated.
- Take care of yourself. Sometimes when I’m the most fearful, the best thing I can do is take a walk or a hot bath and just chill out for a bit. Making sure you’re eating healthfully and getting in some movement will clear your head and calm your anxiety.
- Play to what you do well. If you know you write well, write. And write FIRST, so you start off your day with a win. Write a LOT, just to build up your confidence. And as a twist on this idea…
- Practice what you don’t do well. I think I do live streams on Facebook pretty well, but writing blog posts is a struggle for me. So, I blog less often than I do livestreams, but when I finish a livestream I write (usually). My confidence gets a booster shot and I feel more empowered to write.
- Set a small goal. You want to set something that’s small enough to attain easily and give you a win, and significant enough to build the skill set you want to develop in baby step fashion. FOR INSTANCE: My goal when I started this post was to write at least 300-500 words. Right this second I’m at 983. There’s a good chance that when you start practicing what you’re afraid of, that little effort will build some momentum and you’ll do more than you thought you would, or could.
A good friend of mine quoted something that has become my favorite mantra when it comes to fear: “Fear is courage that’s said its prayers.” In that regard, face head on what you fear the most, say your prayers and take that first step. All of these steps will do you well in any skill, including improving your health!