It’s a small word with deep and far reaching implications. Fear is what lies behind some of our most basic core emotions. Jealousy, greed, insecurity, racism, low self-esteem, anger - the grim roll call of our darkest feelings.
Yet fear is an essential part of our human condition protecting us from potential harm and is a natural state when we consider loss of loved one’s, losing a job or change.
What we like to look at and unearth as coaches is the sort of fears that keep us stuck. These are the self-imposed obstacles which we erect to protect us though in reality hold us back from reaching our personal and professional potential. And it is these fears we will look at today and show you the tools to overcome them.
Common Fears We All Share
It may be reassuring to you to learn that we all share pretty much the same fears no matter how bold or confident the rest of the world may appear. It is widely reported that in surveys people put fear of public speaking above death as something they most dread. In the professional world other common fears include:
- Looking stupid/not possessing adequate knowledge
- Speaking up in meetings
- Defending oneself
- The unknown/change
- Not being liked/thought of as professional
- Saying “no”
- Not being listened to/understood/respected
- Not being “good enough”
It’s a sad fact that we all know our limitations. When our heart beats faster, when our hands get clammy and we think “I can’t do this” it is often followed by feelings of inadequacy and missed opportunity.
Wouldn’t it be far better to ignore our limitations but seek to extend our potential?
Before we explore that and how we do go through the fear and step ahead, let’s look at the implications of letting our fears rule.
Little Word Big Impact
When we play hostage to our fears there are negative consequences that seem to repeat themselves over and over again. For example if you always chose friends who are takers you will feel depleted and abused. If you refuse to speak up in meetings, despite having brilliant ideas to share, it will be the noisy but less competent that gets the kudos and promotion.
Just some of the by-products of “not being good enough” fear.
How has fear impacted on you? Do you feel stuck in dead end relationships with partners, friends and family? Fear may make your life feel reduced. Perhaps you feel isolated and frustrated; the only person in the world suffering such low confidence and for whom promotion and recognition have yet again by-passed you.
Avoidance, procrastination and “playing small” are great symptoms of fear-based behaviour. But putting off and delaying are poor tactics as the issue just grows in magnitude and becomes even more terrifying and fraught with potential disaster. Anyone recognize these self-sabotaging habits?
It is undeniably painful to confront your fears but remember this too – it is always beneficial and potentially life changing for the better. After all just consider how scary the alternative is. A life less lived?
You and Your Big Bad Wolves
When you understand that a lot of your fears are entirely self-imposed it is worth looking to what it is you might be thinking about yourself and a given situation. Our perception of the world is based entirely on our beliefs. Our beliefs dictate our emotional response to a situation be it positive or negative.
For example good beliefs we may have include thoughts such as “I can do this”, “I am able” or “I am curious about what change might mean”.
However we pick up a lot of limiting beliefs along the way too and from childhood onwards over-cautious parents, a playground bully, spiteful relative or insecure friend can instill a few which we wrongly interpret as the truth.
This is where the fears that keep us stuck reside in our psyches. These Negative Internal Dialogues (NIDs) come and cut you off at the knees when you wish to succeed with crowing chorus of “I am useless”, “I don’t deserve”, “I am not good enough”, “No one will love me unless…” I’m sure you’ve got plenty of your own to add.
Your NID is in fact an over-loud warning voice set to protect you from hurt (you learned this from painful experienced from the past) but it pays to remember your inner critic is not telling you the truth.
Switch off your NID
Turn your negative thought into a positive one and write it down. “I am unable” could become “I am entitled to try” for example. Spend time considering how your limiting beliefs are holding you back.
Keep a journal of all the great achievements in your life. That fact you are a loyal friend, look good in blue, have nice hair, are great with money etc. Keep reminding yourself of times in the past when you have succeeded and see this as evidence you can do it again.
Dare to challenge your fears and eventually, with practice they slip back into the shadows for good. Do that and victimhood, martyrdom and excuses become as outmoded as last year’s handbag. Opportunity then knocks.
Why not book a half hour free session with Carole Ann? Visit www.realcoachingco.com
tagged in Mental Health