Fear will stop you dead in your tracks or make you run like hell. It’s supposed to do that. When you come face to face with a life threatening moment, like a fire in your house or a wild animal in your path, your fight or flight reaction kicks in; thank heavens for that. That’s what fear is designed for – to keep us alive in those situations.
But there is another type of fear that will stop us dead in our tracks or make us run like hell that contains no life threatening components, other than the ones we create in our mind. This type of fear is self-created and is what I’ve heard described as False Evidence Appearing Real (F-E-A-R). I wish I could remember whom I heard that from and give that person credit but I can’t so suffice it to say, I didn’t come up with it but I love it so am sharing it with you. This is made-up, self-created, irrational fear. It’s exactly what the acronym says: False Evidence Appearing Real. They are fears that come from the “what ifs” and stories we create in our head; stories that become real, in our mind. What if my business fails? What if I never recover? What if I lose my job? What if I don’t get the promotion? What if the stock market crashes again and I lose my life savings? I’m afraid of failing, of losing, of succeeding… I’m afraid of what other people will think if I quit my job or don’t get the promotion. And on and on it goes. Those are the fears I’m referring to; the ones that pull you out of the present moment because you’re so focused on what might (or more likely, what might not) happen in the future. These are future focused fears. It’s like planning for a headache or a disaster that never happens. This is the fear we need to face and overcome because it’s what holds us back, keeps us stuck, prevents us from making much needed changes in our lives, or makes us run like hell from an awesome but scary opportunity.
So, how do you face it? You must feel it. You must go to the bottom of it and see what it really means. I don’t recommend dwelling there but briefly going to your worst-case scenario and figuring out what you would do. For example: Answer the fearful question that keeps arising in your mind. What if I lose my job? What will I do? Chances are you response would be something like: That would suck. I would feel ashamed, embarrassed, like failure. And then what? Then what would you do? Chances are your answer might include any of the following: Well, I’d pick up the pieces and figure out what’s next, or, I’d start my own business, or I’d be upset for a while but I’d get over it and get another (better) job.
By going to the bottom of your fear and playing out your worst-case scenario, you discover your resilience. You realize you’d survive, even if it was difficult for a while, you’d survive. You disprove that false evidence created in your mind by realizing it probably wouldn’t be as bad as the repetitive story playing over and over in your mind. And suddenly the fear that’s holding you back or keeping you stuck begins to lose its power over you. The grip it had on you begins to loosen because you’ve looked it in the eye and know you’re stronger than any false evidence that appears real in your mind. Once you do that, you’re able to make a move and accept the opportunity that once seemed so scary or quit the job you’ve been so afraid of losing anyway. Try it. Stare your fear in the face and discover how resilient you really are and then watch the fear start to lose its power over you. I trust you’ll be pleased with the results!