“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Whoever said that (yes, I know who it was!) was wrong!
Sensible fear is the kind that prevents you from stepping off the edge of a cliff so you wouldn’t want to fear that fear, if you catch my drift. But there are other fears that we focus on that are not dangerous. They’re just fears.
So is the fear itself the problem? I would argue that it’s not. The real problem is what happens after you give in to the fear. Or more to the point, what doesn’t happen when you give in to fear.
We’ve all been afraid of something at some point. And we’ve all had the experience of “feeling the fear and doing it anyway”. Most of us have also had the experience of giving into a fear, even if we really knew we shouldn’t.
All that is before the fact. And as I’ve said, it’s what happens after the fact that concerns me today.
It’s easy for the motivational gurus to tell you to face your fears, break through them, conquer them, embrace them or whatever. But quite honestly, when your fear is staring you in the face that is all you can see. It’s a bit like looking at the moon – you can hide it from view with a coin, if you hold the coin at the right position to your eye.
But just like the optical illusion of a coin obscuring the moon, the fear that is right in front of your face is hard to gauge. It’s very hard to work out how big it really is. I would be the last person to advocate foolhardiness.
That’s not sensible.
What I like to do is look beyond the fear. Follow my analogy if you will. Move your head to one side of the coin – you’ll see the moon. Move back away from the coin – you’ll see it’s really small compared to the moon.
Whenever you take a step backward, you get a different picture. You get a different perspective.
Don’t face your fear – step back from it so you can see beyond it. What lies beyond it is the thing you are chasing. If you can see it clearly and you focus on it you might be able to lessen the impact of whatever fear is haunting you.
I’ll give you a real world example. What I’m about to say applies to many people, so the person I’m describing is a composite made up from many conversations over the years.
“You should email your subscriber list on a regular basis. Keep in touch.”
“I know I should, but I’m scared they’ll unsubscribe.”
“If they stay subscribed and you never email them, they won’t know you are there anyway – what’s the difference?”
“But they might unsubscribe.”
This is a false fear, because the alternative (mailing regularly) cannot be worse. Getting NO sales because you don’t email an offer, or getting some sales and some people unsubscribing because you did email.
Which makes more sense to you?
If your subscriber list is just to have friends, go on Facebook instead. If it’s to earn money by offering good information and recommendations to your subscribers, email them!
“What if they unsubscribe?”
The “what if” question is often used to give excuses to be paralyzed by fear. Yes, excuses. Some of us like to give ourselves a way out without even realizing it.
“What if I don’t have enough qualifications? I don’t think I’ll apply for that job.”
“What if I don’t get any sales?”
Put the word so in front of any such questions. It makes a world of difference.
“So what if I don’t have enough qualifications!”
“So what if I don’t get any sales!”
We don’t do anything hazardous on the internet – not really. If you send a promo email and make no sales you are unlikely to break your leg!
Look, if you go bungee cord jumping you might suffer a detached retina – that’s a real fear to consider before doing it!
But not making a sale? Is that really a good enough reason not even to try?
Some say that running towards your fears means you have to step outside your comfort zone. That can be true. I’m not sure I like that as an idea though.
What I’m advocating is not zooming in on your fears. Look beyond them to see what is there. There’s a sports tip I read somewhere that talks about looking at where you want the ball to go (golf, football, baseball, whatever). I like the idea.
If you’re not looking where you’re heading, how can you be sure of getting there?
When your eye is on the prize, it’s easier to ignore distractions. Your peripheral vision will keep you out of trouble, but your main focus will be on the prize. And that’s exactly where it should be.
Let’s also realize how many people find that the huge fears they had in their head were really very small when they viewed them in the rearview mirror!
Come on, think back now. Pretty much everyone has had the experience of being frozen with a fear that later turned out to be no big deal.
What makes you think the next fear is any different?
The other thing to consider requires a little mental calculation. Add up how many fears you’ve had throughout your life (A). Then add up how many times your worst nightmare actually did come true (B).
Divide B by A – you’ll find it’s a small number. Most people allow even minor fears to stop them doing something at some point.
So I’ll ask you one more question, to get you thinking.
If the feared outcome is that likely, won’t it happen anyway?
The sitting and feeling fearful isn’t likely to change it – is it?
The only thing that could change the outcome is taking action. And nobody, but nobody, can take action when they are frozen to the spot with fear.
Start small and do something you’re a bit nervous about. Get some fear busting (or ignoring) successes under your belt. Notch them up so you can see how often you conquered fear.
When new challenges arise you’ll be able to draw on your reserve of successes. Success breeds success, right? So nurture it.
But remember, inaction through fear will breed future inaction, so whatever you want most of, that’s what you have to do most of.
You’ve heard it expressed this way countless times before, I’m sure:
Use it or lose it.
What are your throughts? Let me know on the comment form below. If you can share a time you were frozen with fear, or you managed to bust out of the fear trap, I’d love to hear from you!