How do you react to fear? Do you know it as the villain in your life or do you face it and use it to drive you beyond your limits? Fear actually has quite an immense upside and delving more deeply you’re your own personal fears, what they are and why they exist can help you to gain a greater personal understanding of how and why you operate and use it to your advantage.
I have an old story that I tell myself that I am very shy and I recall the days when I was a kid when that story was quite possible true. I was very fearful of interacting with strangers because I believed I wasn’t interesting or I would say something that they would believe stupid and I was afraid of how I would be perceived. It actually prevented me from engaging in a number of activities, particularly ones that would make me the centre of attention. At one point, I recognized that I was holding myself back and missing out on so many things that others were so effortlessly enjoying and I decided to force myself to confront my fears and do exactly what made the most anxious. Whenever I would feel that sense of nervousness, I would do exactly what I was trying to talk myself out of doing, and what I discovered is that the story that I had been telling myself about what others believed about me was, in fact, not even remotely true. I had actually invented that myself. Little by little, I stopped myself from doing that and it didn’t take long before my whole world opened up.
Sometimes I still catch myself thinking that I am shy, oddly its usually at times when I am making a presentation in front of hundreds of people or traveling across foreign continents all alone and I recognize the story as being completely invalid and dive right into that opportunity that is triggering the story.
Explore the things that you believe you fear whether it is failure or performing or even spiders and dig a bit deeper into the story that you tell yourself around that scary thing. Fear is good in more way that one. There might actually be some basis for your story, scientific facts about dangerous spiders or falling from heights, etc. but check yourself to see if you actually magnify or dramatize those facts. Are you using your fear to avoid something deliberately or is it really protecting you from putting yourself in a dangerous situation? Being realistic about this will help you to turn your fears into useful tools that can either drive you to create new limits for yourself or that can stop you in your tracks before you engage in a risky situation.
It’s a bit tricky to determine the fine line between gut instinct and stories that you’ve created and the more that you become introspective about your fears, the more you will recognize which ones serve you and which ones are actually obstacles preventing you from moving forward. Caution is not to be taken lightly when physical risk is an element but when you’re dealing with social fears, more often than not, the outcomes that you imagine will occur will never actually manifest. And even if they do, generally what you’ll find is that they are not as devastating as you believe them to be.
Make friends with your fears and you’ll find them to be yet another way for you to overcome obstacles in your life.