Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali poet, 1916
How many of us have ever worried about something that never happened? Or if it did happen, wasn’t as bad as we thought? Have you ever noticed how easily fear can overwhelm us? Undermine our actions? Derail us? Sometimes we’re well aware of our fears, while at others, we don’t fully realize what’s going on with us until we’re paralyzed.
Fear. Worry. Anxiety. There’s so much going on in the world today – five minutes of the nightly news gives us plenty to fear if we don’t have any of our own. If allowed to fester, our fears willingly take over the driver’s seat. They consume us. Take over. Control us. It doesn’t have to be this way. Sure, there’s a lot to be fearful of…too many what if’s out there…so we need to be intentional in conquering our fears.
Fear robs us of living out our priorities. Fear steals our peace. Fear destroys dreams. Fear steals the celebrations of our strengths and makes us overlook our victories. It takes our focus off what’s most important. And puts the focus solely on whatever it is we’re fearful of. Front and center. We become consumed before we even know it. When we live in fear of the what if’s – rather than in celebration of our strengths, we minimize our contributions.
Let’s face it, sometimes we’re too focused on the potential embarrassment of failing. So we don’t take risks, not even appropriate ones. Sometimes we’re too focused on what others think, so we don’t speak up, even when we have something valuable to contribute. Sometimes we don’t step out because we fear rejection. When we focus on our fears, they consume us.
So what can we do about this?
We have choices to make. We need to be intentional about the choice not to let fear control our lives. For many of us, this means forming new habits. Acknowledging them and then thinking a bit differently about them. Today (and in part 2) we’re going to share a few tips we’ve learned. Preparation, intentionality, courage and gratitude – these are enemies of fear.
Focus…on our priorities…our goals…on others
We need to carefully choose what we focus on, especially in the midst of our uncertainties. Who do we focus on when we’re afraid? Ourselves …. we’re concerned about what’s about to happen to me? And we tend to think of the worst-case scenario. We tend to lose sight of those around us and our priorities.
We need to focus on our goals – not our fears. Be purposeful. What we focus on grows larger in our minds. How often do we build things up to larger than life in our minds?
We need to rewire our thought processes. We need to learn to recognize when fearful thoughts are creeping in; take them captive and let them be triggers to re-focus on our priorities. Not only does this help us to keep priorities in order, but it keeps fears in proper perspective…not larger than they are.
When facing a challenging situation, being prepared will limit fear’s control over us. Study, do our homework. Deliberately practice. Work hard.
We need to also practice spending some time in reflection each day – and we’ll find ourselves spending less time reacting each day.
Making a habit of learning something new each day can also help.
Be You! (Authentic)
Be comfortable in your own skin. Remember Who You Are…there is only one of you! your job is to be the best you and my job is to be the best me. Carla Harris talks about this in her book, Expect to Win – be comfortable being your whole self. Don’t be fearful of being you – everywhere. Don’t be fearful of showing your strengths as a total package.
This take confidence…but believe in yourself.
Face fears and they are no longer fears. Sometimes this means calling them by a new name. At other times it means facing them with a friend, a coach, a boss or a mentor.
We’ve all heard ships are safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. It’s the same with us…we might feel safe and secure – not taking risks, not chancing failure, not willing to let others see we aren’t perfect – but then we’re living in fear. Behind our excuses, there are often fears. Evaluate your reasons for pulling back, for not going all in. What’s at the root of them? Getting to the source of our fears takes some time but it is liberating.
If you need to, overcome one small fear at the time. That will give you courage to conquer bigger fears next. Have you ever noticed both fear and courage are contagious?