The fear of failing is just about on par with the fear of success. It keeps us from doing the things we wish we could do. It tells us that we can’t do it because, well, who are you to do be doing anything like that anyway? Fear has an overpowering ability to destroy us and stop our total awesome from getting out. While it’s powers can be debilitating, they can also be fuel for astonishing growth, if combatted effectively. To get past fear, first you have to feel it.
The best way to get over emotions (in my completely unprofessional view) is to acknowledge their existence, allow yourself to feel them, and then move on. Don’t succumb to their overwhelming allure to stay in their devil’s embrace. Don’t allow them to consume you or overpower you. There’s nothing wrong with a feeling as long as you don’t let it take control.
EVERYBODY gets it
No matter how great someone is now, they started off in the beginning too. The fear that courses through your veins did so on rulers of countries to the fiercest of driven professionals. Do you think Elon Musk or Jane Goodall knew EXACTLY what to do all the time?
When Elon talks about success, he says
“The reality is great heights, terrible lows and unrelenting stress. [I] don’t think people want to hear about the last two.”
What separates the casual performer from the truly inspired is their ‘ungiveupness’.
I could have just as easily (or more easily) have said ‘determination’. Let’s be real though, how many blogs or inspired speeches use that word. It’s so overused that we’ve become numb (or at least I have) to the point of creating our own language.
“The only thing you have to fear…”
You know that old quote so I won’t say it here. It’s so perfectly true that it’s easy to forget. Fear is healthy, it’s natural, and keeps us aware of things that could cause us harm. What ISN’T healthy is our ‘extended stay’ in this state. If we remain a deer in the headlights, we will get run over. If we see the oncoming threat, acknowledge it’s temporary control over us, and make the conscious effort to exert our unrelenting will upon it – we will most certainly make that threat cry for mercy.
Cortisol keeps you stupid
Your body is a wonder of bioelectrical mechanics and impulses. Your mind-body connection is what keeps you alive in truly life threatening circumstances. One of the most important chemicals that helps keep us from being eaten is cortisol. Cortisol is a ‘stress hormone’ for lack of a better phrase. When we feel fear, we get stressed. Cortisol does all kinds of biological things to our bodies, one of which is to stop our logical brain from functioning and puts our primitive, fight or flight, brain in high gear. With today’s worries (bank account, job security, how we’ll get that next iPhone before everyone else), the ‘fight or flight’ response does more harm than good. It builds up and keeps us from making smart decisions. The best way to combat this: get out of that state FAST.
When you realize you feel fear pressing on your chest, take action. Do SOMETHING. The simple act of taking SOME control will lead to that fear diminishing. By you taking a step forward you will get further away from that car that’s looking to make you a roadside pancake.
It doesn’t have to be hard or much at all. Stressed about your finances? I find that running the numbers (something I normally hate doing) helps to get a sense of taking ownership. At least making a plan gives me control over the situation. Have an assignment that’s coming due at the end of the day and you’re still far off the mark? Figure out what ABSOLUTELY needs to get done and get it as far as possible. Time management, and saying no to overwhelming workload is key but that’s preventative (something that, coincidentally, helps alleviate stress). Do what you can, take ownership and communicate the challenge from a position of strength. Remember, YOU’RE calling the shots, not the fear.
Reduce your stress
Keeping stress levels low will help alleviate fear in the first place. If you’re already 80% of your threshold of stress and something else comes up you may start to panic (straw, meet camel’s back!). Get some good relaxation in whenever you can.
Do things for you and at the end of the day, it’s about recognizing your mental state and keeping it in check. Remember to acknowledge and let the feelings be there but don’t let them take control. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be sure to always be your ‘Total Awesome!’
Do you have any additional tips or a story to share? Mention it in the comments below!
Until next time!
Featured Image: Thanks to Joey Pilgrim!