Do any of these situations sound familiar?
You’ve been hard at work getting your new business off the ground, but now that it’s time to launch, you’re terrified of what people will think when your work is out in the open.
You have a new idea you want to pitch to your boss, but the next time you get the chance, your heart begins to race, you clam up, and the idea never sees the light of day.
You’re presented with two amazing opportunities: one that will advance your career, and another that will allow you to explore the world. While you “know” deep inside that either option would be great, you’re scared of making the wrong choice, and feel paralyzed.
If you’re anything like me (or anyone else in the world for that matter), you’ve seen these many faces of fear before. In fact, fear is the #1 struggle that I find is holding most of my clients back.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the fear that’s holding you back and how to overcome it so that you no longer feel stuck.
Fear Makes You Human
Fear is something every human on this planet feels. Our nervous systems are wired to feel it to protect us from danger by helping us avoid or prepare for tough situations. While fear is uncomfortable and holds you back from many important things, if you recognize that your fear is always trying to help you (even if it actually has the opposite effect), this can soften fear’s tough grip on you.
Why Trying To Escape Fear Never Works
Almost as common as the feeling of fear is the desire to escape it. We generally tend to want to run away from it, suppress it, mask it, or force it to go away. While it makes sense to want to escape something that feels so uncomfortable, this never works. Trying to escape it actually makes it stronger, and it follows you like a shadow.
What If Fear Was Your Friend?
I’m going to reframe fear not as your foe, but as your friend. Your fear is an important message from your body trying to alert you that something is wrong. Sometimes it’s a false alarm. Other times, it isn’t. Regardless, developing a positive relationship with your fear can actually enhance your potential as a human being!
From Foe to Friend in 6 Simple Steps
The following exercise is inspired by my training in IFS, and is one way I help my clients make progress. It will help you speak to your fear so that you can make friends with it, listen to its messages, and help it calm down. This exercise can be done through writing, visualization, or a combination of both.
While you are doing this, see if you can respond with compassion to your fear’s responses, like you’re having a conversation with someone you care about through writing. Don’t give it advice or tell it to stop being afraid. Often, if you do this it comes back stronger!
1. Locate the fear in your body. If it’s not present in the moment, think of a situation that makes the fear come up.
2. Visualize it. Once you see it, open your heart towards it, recognizing that it is likely just trying to help you. Set the intention to give it space to process. You can also ask it what its name is, or give it a name.
3. Talk to it. Ask it to tell you about itself and what it’s experiencing. You can also ask it what it’s afraid of, and why it’s struggling so much. Keep your heart open, and don’t judge. Just listen.
4. Offer support. Ask it if it needs anything from you right now, like kindness, reassurance, space, etcetera, and give this to the fear.
5. Turn your fear into your BFF. Ask your fear if it needs anything from you going forward to feel taken care of, or to have its fears calmed. This could be something like reassurance, or it could be doing practical tasks such as double-checking logistical things. Sometimes, your fear is actually there to give you an important message!
6. Schedule dates with your fear. As you move forward, if you find your fear is taking up too much mental space throughout the day, schedule a time every day where you will do this exercise with your fear. Ask your fear to wait until its scheduled 30 minutes to talk to you, so you can go about your the rest of your day without being distracted.
This is something you can do formally or informally throughout the day, when you have space, as the fear comes up. See if you can reframe the times when fear shows up as an opportunity to get to know a part of your internal counsel. This helps you turn one of your biggest foes into one of your strongest guides, and helps you live in inner harmony!
It’s effective to do this process on your own, but everyone has blind spots. It’s often most efficient to get help overcoming fear from a qualified coach. This is exactly what I help ambitious millennials do.
If you’d like more help on how to reach your full potential as an ambitious young person, click here to download my free guide!
This article was originally published on my blog.