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Face your Fear – It is no longer relevant

Face your Fear – It is no longer relevant

“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.”

–Judy Blume

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.

Breathe

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.”

–Dale Carnegie

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.

Grow up

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.

Go extreme

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?

Rationalize

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.”

–Marilyn Monroe

 

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The Self-Help Generation

The Self-Help Generation

“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” – Tony Robbins

If you take a look at my books, scattered around my ‘man cave’, you will see a lot of books that fit into the self-help category. I am not ashamed of it. Although I wonder, when I find another book from this category on my door mat, if I haven’t read enough by now. Not all, but definitively some books just get me fired up, especially the ones on business, growth, and learning.

In my eyes a good book, informs and educates me, but at the same time motivates me. It shows me the actions to take and why I should take them. Like a motivational speaker, the text grabs you by the throat and shakes your belief. You can do it, you will do it, you are on your way to success. Whatever success may means to you, I value the distant care of the writer for me to reach my success.

When I open Instagram, I get hit in the face with hundreds of motivational quotes and inspirational words. Wow! Although sometimes they seem somewhat superficial and corny, I happily take part and I write motivational words every day to myself, and anyone who’s interested. The fact that all the young people have access to these quotes and positive vibes is fascinating. Could we be part of the Self-Help Generation?

Do you believe in unlimited possibilities? Can anyone reach their life goal, just by believing? Will we see an entire generation living fulfilled lives? Who knows. I certainly hope so. The information, knowledge, and experiences of those who tell you how, is readily accessible. Books are cheap, internet is free and motivational speakers stalk you in every corner of Instagram. The power is yours.

self-improvement-motivation-quotes-8

It’s true, that once you’ve read half a dozen books, you’ve read them all. But like Zig Ziglar said: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” And taking in motivational quotes, inspirational stories, and success tips is good, as long as you need it.

The thing I find most important about this development is the underlying mindset. I first learned about it in a Strategy course at University. The development of business strategy was portrayed as being on a continuum between Choice (or Free Will) versus Determinism. In what way could you fully decide the outcome of the future with choices made now. And in what way are you just a pawn on a chess board, outside of your control.

This suspense between choice and determinism can also be seen in our own lives. The strategy we pursue in our career, and how we handle health, family and love, are all part of our mindset. Are you more of a choice kind of person? Do you think you can control the outcome of your career, learn a skill you have no experience in, and influence the major flow of your life? Or are you more of a determinist? Do you think that things come as they come and you can’t do anything about it, do you think innate talent is the major determinant of where your career will lead you?

When you look at the scientific research the real world truth will of course lie somewhere in the middle. We have influence over major choices (at least we believe we do; our mind plays more tricks on us than we are aware of), and at the same time the world definitively has a lot more things going on that you can NOT influence. Just try to plan for a sunny weekend in the Netherlands.

My point is this. What counts is what you believe. And for me it is the belief that I do have influence over my future. Because this mindset WORKS for me. I can learn new skills. I can become who I want to be. I can design my career as I wish. I learn and become experienced. I will do things, make mistakes and grow. I will take full responsibility for my life. Not because it is the full scientific truth, but because it works for me. I design my life. I design my happiness. A choice mindset works for me. I am sure it will work for you too.

 

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