Fear is a funny thing. The actual word ‘fear’ never really pop up in conversations, stories, articles or various seemingly dangerous situations – however we all recognize fear when we hear it, see it or feel it. It’s the great big elephant in the room that nobody talks about. But everybody knows it’s there. As an entrepreneur, fear has been my uninvited friend for quite some time. It keeps on cramping my style at an event, it creeps into an important meeting, or it somehow finds its way to a conference that was ‘invite only’ to me. Fear is hard to shake. Or so we keep on thinking.
Why is fear so unbearable?
When we feel fear, something physical happens to us. As human beings, we’ve been hard wired to launch certain coping mechanisms when we are in an uncertain situation.
Our brain tells our bodies to speed up our heart rate, we feel elevated and our heart starts sending additional energy to our muscles in order to be ready to face the unknown. This feeling of ‘fear’ is what we interpret the situation as.
Since the beginning of times when we lived in caves, our brain has been convincing our minds to be aware of the presence of fear – you either do or die. You freeze, flee or fight.
We choose to fight back.
The world we live in has changed. And it’s changed a lot.
Our everyday situations are much more complex than ‘do or die’ and we should not let our minds manipulate or control us to the point where we convince ourselves being unable to do something that matters to us, thinking that we can’t do something because fear stops us.
We need to fight back. We need to re-train our brain to associate the feeling of fear with positive outcomes, great outcomes and achievements that will get you to the next level in your life.
Take entrepreneurship for example – we live with our fears and anxieties every day. Heck, we chose this lifestyle for ourselves, so might as well become comfortable with it. There’s no stability in being an entrepreneur. There’s no knowing of what challenges await for us tomorrow, there’s security, no promises. However all of these elements get us tick. These are the core reasons why we first got into this life.
We want to feel exhilarated by something, we want to do something extraordinary, we want to reach heights that no-one has ever reached before – yes, I guess a fairly sensible person would say we are completely insane and that we are playing with fire. We are attracting danger. However fear cannot be part of that equation. There’s no room for it.
You need to leave that uninvited friend at the door. Kick it out. Forget it. Replace it – and replace it with what we know is real already; Adrenaline.
Fear is only Adrenaline
Once you realize which completely natural hormone you are dealing with when facing the feeling of fear – you can tackle it, re-channel it and use to enhance your performance in life, career and overall situations, rather than let it get you down.
Fear is a liar – it makes us overanalyze situations, it makes us believe we cannot overcome challenges; it keeps us from taking risks. Let’s take a look at a few methods on how we can deal with fear and channel the energy caused by fear to more productive and fruitful, positive challenges in life.
- Re-program the associations of situations where you have been feeling fear
Whether it’s public speaking at a conference, networking event with other business delegates or taking a risk with the direction of your business strategy, make an action plan. Rationalize to yourself why it’s inappropriate and unnecessary to feel fear within these particular situations. What good can happen as a result of you putting yourself in these situations – what if you don’t put yourself forward in these situations? Weigh the pros and cons. What’s the worst that can happen?
- Remember the positives
Our minds are geared towards retaining and highlighting negative memories more often than positive ones. This can cause us to feel fear when we approach situations where we have burned our fingers before, even if they are usually the minority of our overall experiences. Choose to emphasize the good and train your brain to see things the way they really are.
- Expose yourself to your fears
No matter how hard, start exposing yourself to your fears in baby steps. Recognize that fear is only adrenaline and can actually act as a performance enhancer. The more you expose yourself to uncomfortable situations you felt fear previously in, the more confident you will become and the more comfortable you will feel in entering seemingly scary situations in the future.