We’ve all had that moment where your heart starts beating quicker, your hands begin to sweat, the knees are knocking and that feeling would rise in your stomach like a giant wave in the ocean. FEAR! Everyone has experienced it at some point in their lives. Whether it be your local BNI group, your monthly sales meeting, approaching the person you fancy in a nightclub, sitting your driving test, heights, changing jobs, your neighbour’s dog, getting aboard an airplane or the most common fears of all: the fear of failure, the fear of rejection and the fear of looking stupid in front of others.
Fear manifests itself in many different ways in people. Once we have labeled ourselves as having a fear, then we will continuously gather evidence to support and rationalise it. No amount of statistics, facts or percentages will make a blind bit of difference. Telling someone one in two million people get bitten by a dog, that nobody has ever died making a presentation in work or from taking a written exam… We will find reference legs for anything we choose to believe and having a fear is no different.
FEAR is merely False Evidence Appearing Real
We are born with only two fears. As children you have a fear of loud noises and falling over. The rest you accumulate as you rack up the calendar years.
Roughly 90% of the things we worry about and fear actually NEVER come to pass. Now that you know this, think back on how much time and energy you wasted, that could have been spent having fun and adventure. LOTS!
When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers – Ralph Waldo Emerson
All phobias, fears and anxieties can be overcome with the right tools. I do not have the time nor scope within an article such as this to go into the Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) skills I have acquire to tackle phobias and anxieties. I will however give you some useful points that can help you in overcoming some of the basic fears, such as failure, rejection or making decisions.
FIVE TIPS FOR OVERCOMING FEAR:
1. TAKE ACTION – You will find that in most cases taking the smallest possible steps on any issue or task will leave you feeling less daunted by it all. Action is one of the keys to overcoming fear and in doing so it also avoids the analysis paralysis which is fear’s greatest ally. Sitting down and tossing things over and over in your head without doing a single thing about them is a surefire recipe for the weeds to take over the garden.
2. ATTACK YOUR FEARS – I recently watched an amazing piece on Will Smith on YouTube. One of the keys to his success and the reasons for his immense growth as an actor and as a person has been his commitment to “Attack all of his fears” (now, if your fear can bring you physical harm you don’t need to adhere to this … I don’t want a want a load of dogs, rats and sharks e-mailing me about the assaults they’ve suffered).
Anyway, look at the areas where you’re weak and where you’re letting fear hold you back. Then go to work on them. Face them head on and really stretch yourself. Remember that initial fear you had for driving a car or meeting your partner’s family for the first time…? Now where have they gone to? Yes, you faced them down and overcame them with a bit of courage and resilience.
3. EMBRACE FAILURE – Doing this will ensure that you won’t be as terrified of it. Most of the world’s greats have failed and failed repeatedly before they ever got things right. If you make it through your whole life without ever having failed miserably or made a fool of yourself, you have not truly lived in my eyes. The learning and growth that is extracted from failing at something is enormous. Do not set out on this course but if you do come up short, ask yourself: “What have I learned here?”
Dust yourself off and go again. The amazing guru Keith Cunningham, said something many years ago that has stuck with me since.
“If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing wrong!”
4. BE IN THE NOW – Fear will usually manifest itself in the form of a representation we create in our head. This image we create will be of a time in the future where you foresee the worst coming to pass. By grounding yourself in the now, the emotional intensity attached to this future image will not take hold. Zone in on what is happening and unfolding in front of you and your sense of logic and reason will be more in tune. I can also coach you on how to change this future representation, but that’s another day’s work in itself.
5. PREPARE AND CONTINGENCY – Do your homework on anything in advance, Ask yourself: “What is the worst possible outcome that can happen here?” And then, “Can I handle that?”
Usually the answer will be yes. If it is a presentation, exam, performance or match then preparation is key. Put the work in leading up to it. Be meticulous and then just trust yourself that you will be able to recall it all when you need. Your unconscious will have all of this info on tap for you, so just trust in it.
The above are a few very useful techniques you can start applying today to overcome your fears. For the more deep rooted fears and phobias I have a whole toolkit of NLP skills which can be utilized to help you overcome them.