Eight fear-busting tools to growth
When we attempt something new and exciting in business or life, many times we also experience feelings of resistance, doubt and fear at the prospect of embarking on this new journey.
Those of you who are thinking about, or are in process of making a career change will know the feelings created by the fear of the unknown. Exactly when we are meant to be at our best, fear can appear out of nowhere and stall things.
- What if I don’t like my new job?
- What if I am not good enough ?
- What if I can’t find any friends?
- What if I fail?
- What will others think?
When I left the legal field and embarked on a journey to find a career in my flow, there was a lot of resistance to my transition; even though this was what I wanted - to leave. Fears and limiting beliefs were cropping up everywhere and blocking me and I didn’t know how to deal with them.
In my case I had built a career round somebody else’s dream. Finding out what else I could do, after I realised this, was the hardest part and made me linger in the legal field for longer than needed. But being faced with the things I really wanted to do and had discarded for so many years caused me even more confusion, as they seemed so removed from the life I was living then. What will others think of my drastic change of career direction? What if this is just a phase? What if I am leaving for the wrong reasons? What do I really want?
Fears are there to keep us safe, our reptilian brain, getting caught up in the pull of the flight, fight or freeze mode. But if we never face and process those fears we stay stuck in our old ‘coding’ (learned habits and beliefs from our past) never growing and moving closer to being the best we can be, following our unique flow and achieving our true aspirations and dreams.
Fears surface even when we move towards something that feels natural to us, it is how we learn to deal with them that makes the difference. Every time procrastination happens, for example, I check my fears. Has one snuck in unannounced and is now stalling progress? Everybody has fears, even the most successful of us do. They too have had to go sift through those warning voices that try to keep us safe and in our comfort zone and overcome them. The bigger the challenge, the stickier those fears.
Fears don’t go away – we just need to learn how to decode and deal with them one at a time. And when we do, we gain confidence and belief in ourselves and the courage to face the next challenge. Our relationship with fear changes - it becomes a sign of growth, helping us grow into the best self that we can be.
Therefore the more we understand our fears the lesser hold they have on us. The below points will be useful when your fears have taken hold and are sticking around, but also to pre-empt and prepare you for a time before fears settle in and ready you with an arsenal of tools to face them!
Let’s bust through some fear ladies!
Acknowledge the fear - Everybody has fears. The important thing is to acknowledge them. Distinguish them from a life or death situation or your mind just wanting to keep you safe. If you are feeling frightful check your circumstances. Are you attempting something new and challenging? The thoughts that come up as warning sign or doubts are most likely related to an old fear you have not processed yet. Be kind to yourself. Start by stopping for a minute and acknowledging the fear in your mind and your body. Then take a small notebook and write it down (each time one pops up).
One by one ask yourself: Where does this fear come from? How is it trying to protect me? Thank the fear for protecting you and then question the fear’s validity in in this situation. How is this fear hindering me from moving forward? What could I do instead? This in itself lessens the hold of fear on us and give us our control and choice back.
Breathe - Another great mind relaxant is breathing. Yes, we all do it but not necessarily the way we should be. Experts say we usually shallow breath instead of taking good ‘lungfuls’ of oxygen. If you are feeling angry, overwhelmed, flustered or fearful, 10 deep breaths (five will also do the trick if you are in a hurry) preferably with your eyes closed will also do it. This again wins you time to calm down, settle the nerves (and your pulse) and enable you to make better decisions and lessen the hold of fear on you. This also reduces stress when adopted as a regular activity during the day. Stopping in our busy lives, breathing and noticing our surroundings in this precise moment.
Gratitude - Being grateful for the things we have reminds us what we do have already and puts things into perspective. Jot down 10 things you are grateful for and feel your fear shift. Now this is something to get us in an overall great mood when done regularly. When we are happy and content and see the abundance in our lives we are also less likely to feel fearful. Each day write down the 10 good things that happened to you in the day. If fear does take hold read through the wonderful pages and be reminded that you do have lots to celebrate.
Change of scenery - Instead of always working in the same space, work in your favourite café for a few hours and gain distance from the battles in your room/at your desk. If you are office based there is no harm in asking the boss if you could work at an empty desk or office cafe for an hour or two. Disassociation always works.
Go for a walk or exercise - There is nothing healthier than getting the body moving. Experts say that walking during the working hours, even for 20 minutes releases a hormone called GABA that soothes the brain and gives impulse control. Nothing better for fear control too. Exercise creates GABA and will have your fear sessions lessened not only in lengths, but also depth of the fear’s hold. If you work from home or an office, just leaving the office for a midday walk will instantly boost GABA but also your focus, motivation and give that distance needed to any overwhelm or fears you are feeling to start subsiding.
Take action - Action is the best way to pre-empt fear. Now if we are in the throes of fear, action is probably last thing we can focus our minds on. In this case the above points will help you get that distance to get you back in charge of the situation and the outcome. Taking small, daily, achievable actions towards our goals is the key and in return gain trust and confidence in ourselves that we can push forward and achieve our aspirations and dreams. What small and achievable action can you take right now?
List of achievements - You are exactly where you are meant to be, right now. Sometimes we forget that we have accomplished so much already. Creating a list of our achievements and having these ready for perusal is another ‘mind calmer’ that can remove us from the lure of our fears.
Time off - Sometimes we wind ourselves so tight that we forget that there is life outside our brains and goals. Taking the rest of the day off is a possibility. Instead of sitting at your desk staring at the screen not doing anything, take time off. Ask yourself, "Have I been giving myself a break?" from time to time. (If an afternoon is not possible the change the scenery point earlier might be another option). Your mind needs fun and time off too, and that does not include watching TV!
When you work from home the space of work and home can overlap, in which case it is even more important to make a distinction between what space home and work is, so that leisure time feels disconnected from work time. Schedule that quality time off regularly and see yourself be more productive, focused and less fearful.
Fear is all about mind management and mind management is power. When we are in charge of our brain, and not the other way round, we can steer our boat to where it is we want to and not be stuck by our past coding or primitive brain’s whims. If you keep pushing through fear with the above techniques you will start to create a new habit that - just the thought of - will subside fear and put it in its rightful place.
Have a wonderful fear-busting February!
Related article: ‘How to create a productive day in 11 steps’ by Petra.