Like most folks I am not a risk taker. I like life in its little neat box where I can perform routines with predictable outcomes. If I can’t predetermine the outcome I usually won’t even try it. This is a facade that many of us have become accustomed too because it’s safe. It’s easy. We know or think we know what’s going to happen. When I play chess or even checkers I make it a habit to look at every single move on the board and plan a few steps ahead of my opponent. Perhaps that is why I love these games so much but life isn’t a chess game. We can’t control when we are born and in most cases when we can’t control when we die but we can decide how we live. Using my life as an example, as a result of my fear I lost countless opportunities that I regret today. I let fear dictate my major in college, where I lived, who I dated (I got lucky with the hubby), what organizations I joined, the school I attended, the jobs I have had, the allies, mentors, friends and god only knows what else. That is what fear does. It holds you back.
We all have our reasons for living in fear. Perhaps an idea or effort we put forward was rejected. Maybe someone told you, you can’t do something. Maybe you need security. For instance, if you have had a tough childhood you have probably dealt with some emotional, physical and/or economic insecurity. So as an adult you need guarantees. If you watch the news you will see we are being conditioned to be afraid of our neighbors. Well the truth is that we can’t control our childhoods, the news or what others think about us but we certainly can control how we think and how we feel. Having control over our thoughts is powerful. Here are some suggestions to get over the fear:
- Find out what you are afraid of and own it
- Figure out why. If you grew up rough or suffered from a traumatic experience seek therapy. There is no shame in asking for help. The shame isn’t doing anything about it.
- Decide between self fulfillment and happiness or fear, regret and boredom.
- Do things that build yourself confidence. How? By doing what you are good at. You say oh that’s easy. Ah, but the kicker is to let the world see it. For example, if you are an amateur artist, singer dancer, etc. try entering a contest. Join a local club. Start a blog. Let that build your esteem.
- Lean on your support system when the fear pops up like a bad zit. Friends and family are the best support. I count on mine all the time. When I am afraid they always challenge me. They help ease my unnecessary fears. In the short term I can’t stand them for it but in the long run they were right. If you do not have a support system create your own. For example, create a Facebook page or join a group for people who have gone through your situation. Make sure people don’t wallow in victimization. While it’s OK to tell your story. It’s not OK to turn it into a pity party. You will be a Debbie Downer.
- Challenge yourself. Try something new. If you try and fail at least you tried. If you try and succeed you just discovered a whole new talent.
- If you are influenced by what is on television turn it off. Images are powerful. Take your power back.
- Read an autobiography by someone you admire. Remember they overcame tremendous odds. Model them and make their example work for you. Did you know Lucille Ball had a fear of public speaking? Imagine if President Obama had listened to what political insiders told him in January 2008. He would have dropped out the race and seceded the presidency to Secretary Clinton. Wow.
We cannot let fear stunt our emotional, mental, physical or spiritual health. Fear may be your only barrier to success. Knock it down and live your life. You never want to look back on your life and regret not trying.