“Each of us must confront our own fears, 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.”
On this website Danny and I talk a lot about achieving goals, results, goals, and going from where you are to where you want to be. Even more about overcoming struggles and obstacles, psychological imperfections and self-awareness. We try to share our experience on our journey, and hopefully you get something out of it.
What I notice in reactions to the blogs, talking to people, my own experience, and reading books about the topics, is that the one thing that is stopping people from doing something and thus achieving results, being successful, growing into a better you, or being happy, is FEAR. In this article I take a look at fear and why it is no longer relevant.
I read a book once by Steve Peters, the Chimp Paradox. In this book a theory is proposed of our brain having two parts, a rational part and an emotional part. The rational part is usually the one you think you use, but the emotional part has a much larger influence on you and your decisions than you might realize. The main thing I take out of it, is that the emotional or Chimp brain is in survival mode. And that it is not helping us in most modern day situations.
This survival brain has one job, to keep you safe and make sure you are reproducing your species. This of course very relevant in the hunter-gatherer days of the human species in which we spent more than 100.000 years (!). Don’t underestimate our hardwired survival brain. But nowadays this survival brain is mostly overreacting. Like thinking you are going to die, when you get a paper cut. Chill the fuck out. We are spoilt. We can get food ready-made at every corner, we drink water from the tap. We sleep in weatherproof housing. Because of technology and organization we are at the top of the food chain and have nothing to fear, but ourselves.
And that’s the whole point. We still fear stuff. Stuff we think are as real as a sabre tooth tiger jumping out of the trees, but are actually self-constructed thoughts. And that’s so unnecessary and sad with regards to achieving your own greatness or making the world a better place.
Let’s go into some tips I learned about facing fear and preparing yourself for it.
When you are confronted with fear, don’t overreact. Get your shit together, breathe and stay calm. Take a Buddhist approach, and be in this moment. What exactly is happening at this specific moment. And what is a construct of your future projection of what might happen? Take a few deep breaths. If you have the time, step out of the moment and go outside, or do something else.
Every time when I experience a stressful moment on the job, I regain myself by focusing on the now. Literally taking some deep breaths helps a lot. Getting myself outdoors, or taking a walk. Simple things that clear the mind. It works.
“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.”
Remember your goal
When faced with a fear ask yourself, what do you really, really want? Why do it? What would your future-self think in this moment? What does your heart tell you?
Remembering your goals is a very powerful way to stay on track. When I have something on my mind, I remind myself constantly why I do it. If I will quit I know that my future me will regret it. And I don’t want to let myself down.
A question that I got from the book The Chimp Paradox you can ask yourself is: “What would your grown up version do?” We all have some idea of what an uber wise, and calm grown-up would do in the face of fear. But doing it is another thing. Explicitly remind yourself, what would a wise grown-up do? This usually is enough to stop whining about the troubles ahead, to go ahead and be strong is face of resistance. Or to stop torturing yourself over the past, and focus on constructive ways to advance in the moment.
Get to know your fear
Maybe you’ve encountered the fear a couple of times before. You might have an idea where it is coming from. Learn about your fear. What’s at the core? Why are you feeling the emotions connected with fear? The more you know about the root of your fear, the more you can do about it.
When I started a new company, I had some fears about if people would like it or not. This is at all not irrational if you are selling things to the same people. But when I realized the fear had more to do with the fear of public failing, I knew that I had to do it. Living with the fear of failing publicly is NOT what I want for myself. I am stronger than that. So I moved on.
The worst thing
What’s the worst thing that can happen? We don’t need to worry about food and water, large predators or life and death. At least in most civilized parts of the world. So what can happen if you face your fear?
Are you afraid to have no money? Guess what, most rich people are self-made, and had little money to start with. You can always start all over again, it’s not the end. Are you afraid of what others might think? Don’t worry about that. Globalization and access to the digital network will guarantee a place for everyone. No matter how crazy your niche, you will find folks that are like you.
So now you can remember yourself when facing fears to help you forward. Of course you can train yourself to be better and faster in overcoming fears. These are things I know help in preparing for fear.
Purposefully expand your limit. Do stuff that scares you! If you are afraid of heights, go high. If you are afraid of public speaking, speak. If you are afraid of being alone, travel abroad by yourself. The more things you do, the stronger you will be. And the less susceptible to fear.
Talk about it
Acknowledging that you have a certain block is the first step. Talk to people about how they got where you want to be. They probably had their fears as well. How did they cope? What can you learn from it?
Train your rational brain. Read books. Learn about how the world works, how your brain works, and about the subjects relative to your dreams and goals. Get the truth out. Use data and probabilities. Many people are afraid of dying from a terrorist attack, but get into their car without thinking. The actual probability to get killed in a car accident is much higher than a terrorist attack. The same thing with your own fears. Afraid of what your friends might think? Have you talked to them about it? And if they still don’t approve, is it so hard to find new friends? No.
Write it down
Confront yourself with your fears, your goals and dreams. Write empowering words, and read them to yourself. You can use them every day to prime yourself into a state of behavior. You might say to yourself that you are already successful in business, or you are already a very fit and professional athlete. If you say it to yourself, you will act like it. If you act like it, you will become it.
“We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.”
Did you like this article? Please like or share it. And let us know what you think, by commenting or reacting. Like our page and subscribe on our website, to get the latest updates.