What to do when Fear tries to Imprison You

“Don’t you ever get used to it?” The ‘it’ the person was referring to was public speaking. I’ve read where fear of public speaking is right up there with the fear of death. Amazing! This got me thinking about fear itself.

How many times can you count in your own life when fear held you back? You didn’t put your hand up in class even though you knew that you had the right answer. You refused to audition for the school choir although you had a very good voice. You got nervous the day that the radio personality was asking questions of those queued in the line as you waited to pay your cell phone bill and got angry with yourself because if you weren’t so chicken you might have been the proud owner of a Blackberry Torch.

Succumbing to fear is as if you’re literally saying “no” to life. Yet the more we fear the more fear seems to show up. “Why can’t fear just curl up and die?” you ask softly. Fear is relentless. You want to ask your boss for a change in working hours – there’s fear. You want to leave the business you helped your husband build and pursue something on your own and there is fear again. You want to leave your job and start a business for yourself but much too afraid to take the first step. Fear seems to be the dragon and if we don’t slay it we will lay doom to a dull and boring life.

So how do we treat with fear when it shows up? What if we could use fear and all that it surfaces to our advantage? What if we gave a different meaning to fear? What if we gave fear a makeover? This is something that we have no problem doing with our physical selves so why not fear?

When fear first shows up, our natural tendency is to shy away from it…run in the other direction. What about if we stared fear down in the eye – shouted at fear boldly claiming that “we’re seeing you – come right on in!” What if we welcomed fear?

What if we thanked fear for showing up? Think of the presence of fear as an indication that we’re on the right track. That this is something we should be doing and the presence of fear is the confirmation of same. So when we feel fear that we press on knowing that this is what we were meant to be doing.

What if we changed fear’s name and instead of fear called it excitement? What if we interpreted fear as an adrenaline rush so forceful because of the risk we felt we were taking?

What if instead of a foe, fear became a friend?

In the book “Change or Die” by Alan Deutschman he lays out three deceptively simple principles for change – He calls them the 3-Rs: Relate, Repeat and Reframe. Let’s use that in the context of fear.

Because we have so much built-in resistance to change, it’s almost impossible to change unless we have the right kind of support. The key, as Deutschman says “is to form a new, emotional relationship with a person or community that inspires and sustains hope.” This could be a coach or therapist for an individual, or for a business it could be an in-depth coaching, training, or consulting program.

Change takes time. It takes repetition and practicing new skills before the change becomes the normal way of doing things. Nobody becomes a great athlete, mathematician, musician or marketer without this kind of long-term repetition so keep practicing until you find an approach that works for you in befriending your fear.

To change, it starts with your thinking, with your mindset, with your point of view. Instead of a dreaded ogre to be avoided, dealing with fear becomes an exciting adventure.

If you operate from these three simple change principles you are going to have a much easier time making change happen despite your fears.

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