My Brand YOU workshops challenge people to get out of their comfort zone and start thriving in life. And the thing that keeps people in their comfort zone – playing small, settling, majoring in minor things – is their fear.
Now fear is an essential survival mechanism. It’s a warning signal when there is danger, and so it keeps us safe and prevents us from doing things that might harm us.
However, when our lives are not in danger, fear is nothing more than a handbrake that’s holds us back and stops us from doing and becoming what we can do and become. It stops us from thriving.
We’re afraid of being the bad guy; of standing out; of being ridiculed; of being rejected; of being unpopular; of being stupid; of losing control; of failing; of feedback; of getting fired.
And so instead of taking that chance and having a go, we cruise along in survival mode. We let others decide for us. We avoid new experiences. We don’t take risks. We settle for second best. We stop standing up for what we believe in. We give up our dreams.
I’m not suggesting that you can conquer or overcome you fears, because you can’t. You’ll never conquer fear because it’s literally hardwired into your ‘reptilian brain’. But I can offer you some ways in which you can live with your fears, take action, and start thriving.
First of all, you need to know that the way to “defeat” fear is by facing it and taking it head on. If you try to hide your fears by pretending they don’t exist, and walk around wearing a “fake confidence” mask, you will be more filled with fear than ever – it’s just a house of cards waiting to collapse. Instead if you own and admit to your fears the ‘power’ they have over you will start to dissipate, and you will grow stronger.
Second, start taking baby steps that move you out of your comfort zone, and slowly but surely begin to ‘neutralise’ your fears. Here are three everyday steps you can take:
- Stop procrastinating, and act. Procrastination promotes fear. When you’re afraid, thinking is your enemy. Back yourself, just do what you think is best, and do it quickly.
- If you’re in a situation where you’re not sure what to do, and you’re afraid of stuffing things up, just act like you know what to do. You’ve heard the phrase “fake it ’til you make it”. To think confidently, act confidently.
- Do one thing every day that scares you. Like being vulnerable, and talking about your fears to someone else. Or having that awkward conversation you’ve been avoiding for three months. Or engaging with that person in the lift that you’ve always wanted to talk to, but never have, because you’re afraid he’ll think you’re some weirdo trying to crack onto him.
Oh, and one last thought. Stop saying “sorry”. People who are afraid always say “sorry” as a way of trying to smooth things over, because they’re always afraid they’ve done the wrong thing, or stuffed something up, or offended somebody. Saying “sorry” all the time very quickly makes you ‘the sorry person’. You know, that guy with his head in his hand who walks around all day with a perpetual mental crouch in constant fear of pissing anybody off.
No, that’s not you.