This weekend a couple of my amazing friends are off to take part in a local triathlon for the second year in a row. Just 18 months ago one of these friends had a terrible fear of open water and didn’t much like swimming – this fear was getting in the way of her achieving her personal goal of getting herself super fit and proving to herself she could do something really special. Next weekend she will be taking part in the very same event; she is fitter, stronger and more importantly feels she has really achieved what she set out to do… and is a much more confident person as a result of this.
I started to wonder about my work and how many times I meet people whose fears get in the way of them achieving so much more.
Some are fearful of public speaking (apparently feared more than death in the UK!), some of being “discovered as a fraud”, some of not being able to cope with the level of responsibility they have been given. These fears are real to my clients and noticeably holding them back.
Fear is one of the most basic human emotions. It’s instinctual. We all feel fear from time to time, the difference is some people are willing to move through their fears in order to get where they want to be. So how do we learn how to handle our fears? There are no magic cures but here are five ideas I’ve discovered that might just help…
- Adjust your internal dialogue
Fear can be an illusion. We tell ourselves frightening stories about our past and our future and play them over and over in our mind until we are terrified. Change these negative stories you tell yourself into new stories filled with positive expectations of the future.
- Try something new
Do the things that frighten you. Take one small step, then another. Your actions will build your courage. Tell yourself, “This fear will pass.” Your world expands as your confidence and willingness to grow expands.
- Relax and practice being mindful
We are often sitting or standing in a completely tense way. Our shoulders are up by our ears and our posture is stiff. Our neck is tight. Try unclenching your jaw, softening your forehead, opening your fists, slowing down your pounding heart, and take a moment to breathe. Remember to take mini breaks during your day to slow down. Stop worrying about the past and the future. Live in the present. And don’t forget to smile.
- Remember what you have done well
We tend to beat ourselves up when we fail and fail to celebrate when we succeed. Strengthen your belief in yourself by reflecting on every success you’ve experienced. You can begin as early as age five when you learned how to ride a bike. You can even write it all down. You’ll be inspired, motivated and amazed by your list and how it can be used to face your fear.
- Believe in yourself
Focus your attention on being ready, willing, and prepared for success. Tell yourself if you work hard you deserve the best no matter what.
So am I going to book myself into a triathlon and plunge into our local lake? Probably not – but I am determined to face my fear of going downhill on my bike! I am hopeful that curiosity will conquer my fear, even if bravery won’t.