Two Sides of Fear

Fear is both a positive and negative; there is good fear and bad fear.  The fear that says don’t move in for a closer look at that snake is a good one (at least for me).  The fear that says don’t chase your dream because catastrophic things will happen would be what we call a bad fear.

Appearing Real

fear - false evidence appearing realEven a bad fear can seem very real to us in the moment.  It can seem so real as to become paralyzing.  In yesterdays post, How Fear Holds You Back – The Good and Bad, we talked about the acronym of FEAR, False Evidence Appearing Real.  That’s the whole point; we are either presented with a false set of facts or, more commonly, create our own false set of facts to define reality.  That protective impulse in our minds fights dirty and will use whatever means at its disposal to convince you to avoid any kind of risky situation; whether you are risking life and limb or simply risking financial ruin.  If left unchecked, our mind will take us to the extreme, defining earth-shattering, negative events born out from every positive step we take towards achievement of our goals.

How in the world do you beat that?  How do you overcome you mind’s tendency to pull you to the extreme?

Take Fear to YOUR Extreme

take fears to the extremeAccording to an article by the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center, it’s simple.  Go to the extreme on your own.  If you are able to take the fear to the extreme outcome in your conscious mind, you can get there before unconscious mind does.  The advantage of doing this means you have control.  Here’s how I get there, but it requires a little set-up first.

  1. Define the fear in specific terms.  What exactly is the fear that haunts your mind?  For example, some people have what is called a Fear of Success.  While there are several forms of it, one is a version of low self-esteem.  You could be afraid that if you achieve success and become well-known that everyone will discover what a fraud you are.  Until you can define you fear in terms like that, you can’t move on to the next step, which is
  2.  Note your self-talk.  When those fears pop up, what are you saying to yourself?  Studies have shown again and again that the most important thing is not what others say about you but rather what you say to yourself about you.  Look for trigger words and phrases that signal that decline into a negative self-talk.
  3. Take the scenarios you have been imaging to the extreme.  Go as overboard as you want to go!  Make it ridiculous!  Outlandish!  Keep pushing it until it becomes absolutely absurd!  Using our example above, what would happen if you were discovered to be a fraud, that you don’t really know what you are talking about?

    Well, of course, it would make new internationally.  Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes and Wolf Blitzer of CNN are wrestling on your front doorstep for priority rights to the expose of your downfall! Norman Vincent Peale says you have no hope!  The whole Earth’s rotation has reversed itself resulting in catastrophic events around the world all due to your error!  Martians have invaded!  The Borg are trying to assimilate everyone due to the weakness you have created through your grievous error!  The Devil himself……well, you get the picture.  

    By taking it to the absurd extremes, you not only get yourself to lighten up a bit, but you put perspective on it as well.  You can then question what the likelihood of any of the imagined circumstances actually occurring.By the way, one thing that helped me was to simply discover that others, even the very famous, typically feel the same way.  How do you think Les Brown felt when he was giving motivational speeches while living out of an empty office?  Yet, today, Les is one of the foremost motivational speakers, commanding large audiences and big fees and making a positive impact in thousands, perhaps millions, of lives.

  4. Change your self-talk.  Remind yourself that you ARE prepared to do this, that you will learn from your failures, that you are intelligent and resourceful.  Talk about how much of a difference you will make in people’s lives when you are able to share with them what you have to offer.  Write it down if necessary and repeat it every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to bed.  Don’t just read it, say it out loud and with emotion.  This helps embed it in your mind.
  5. ACT NOW!  Don’t wait for your mind to create new fears and new situations, go to work right away to do something positive towards you goal.  Nothing kills fear like positive action.

Action Plan

  • What is your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)?  What is the one big fear that is keeping you from moving on it right now?  Apply the process above to it.
  • Come back here and tell me how you did.  Or, if you want it private, call me at 321-355-2442 and let me know.