Fear can stop us in our tracks. However, if we approach fear in the right way we can advance and learn some things along the way.
I found some quotes on dealing with fear and have included a few of them. I hope they inform and inspire you as much as they did me.
“Each of us must confront our own fear, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it. “- Judy Blume
I remember when I went back to school full time to take my MBA. I changed my major and went into an area that I was more motivated by and that I found more interesting. I did, though, have to quit my well-paying job. It took a huge leap of faith and I trusted that my gut was leading me in the right direction. I wasn’t motivated by finance, which was my major in my undergraduate degree and working in the area was making me unwell. I was good at math, but it wasn’t an area I was passionate about.
I bought an audio book called Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. I used to go over to a nearby park and listen to it. The book helped motivate me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. My gut was right, I never felt unmotivated in my work again.
Here are some learnings from my story:
- Trust your gut.
- If you want to realize your dreams, you may have to be willing to take a leap of faith, despite your fearful feelings.
- Take action.
- Learn about the things that are holding you back.
1. Acknowledge, Face, and Dissolve the Fear
‘You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Ideally, you will take on the challenge of acknowledging, facing, and dissolving your fears. This, however, requires further reflection and deep thinking about the situation you fear. It requires that you move toward the fear and become more curious about it.
- What are you afraid of?
- What is the worst that can happen?
- What is your story?
- What are your fearful feelings trying to tell you?
Observe what is going on. Get curious about the thoughts your fear generates. Become aware of the pictures in your head the fear creates. Think about alternative visions that do not include negative outcomes within them.
- Are you holding back to avoid looking silly, being judged, or getting rejected?
- What are the legitimate things you need to learn that would help you be successful?
- Are you afraid of success?
- Or is it something else that is holding you back?
2. Act on Your Fear
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” - Dale Carnegie
Do the things that frighten you. This action builds courage and strength. You may have noticed that 80-90% of the fearful thoughts you have never happen. These thoughts just hold you back from accomplishing your goals.
Think of the next step that you need to do to get moving. Often we focus on the end product but the end result is often too far away. If instead, we focus on the next thing we can do to make progress toward our goal, it can help us to move forward.
Taking small steps towards your goals are fine and are something to be affirmed and appreciated as you make progress. If you take enough small steps, before you know it, you will be at your end goal.
It isn’t how you feel, it is what you do. My actions were that I quit my full-time job and enrolled in an MBA with another major. I did it and then day-by-day I went to classes, took on part-time work to finance my studies, and eventually finished my MBA. The actions, not the worries were what mattered.
Acting brings self-confidence along with it. When you act you gain experience and with that experience, you feel confident. Sitting around and thinking won’t make you feel confident, however, action will. What action can you take to overcome your fear this week?
3. Center Yourself to the Present Moment
“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
The present moment is fine and even wonderful. You can experience positive feelings and thoughts again by focusing on the present moment. You are more than your fears; you are a bigger and brighter awareness.
I notice that when I appreciate what I have and the events of my day, my outlook is a lot brighter. By focusing on what you are grateful for, you can change your focus and cope with more resourcefulness than when you are fearful.
4. Be Positive
“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.” - William Allen White
When you notice you are being fearful about possible outcomes try and make a point of looking for evidence that the situation could also turn out positively. Our thoughts narrow when we are fearful, however, if we sit with our situation and look for positive outcomes our thoughts broaden.
- Is there an opportunity to think or feel something positive within the situation we are afraid of?
- Who could you become by taking on the lesson within the fearful situation?
- What is the fear asking you to do or be?
- Can you call on your past skills or successes to help you with this situation?
Being resourceful in the midst of a fearful situation enables the positive to evolve within the situation.
5. Learn About Your Specific Fear
“Fears are educated into us, and can if we wish, be educated out.” - Karl Augustus Menninger
Read and learn about your specific fears by listening to a talking book on the subject as I did. I have often found, when I have a problem, I can find someone that can help me through the situation or a book to read on the topic I was struggling with.
This quote sums it all up and hopefully will inspire you to do what you need to do to face and move through your fear.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Book review for Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers.