Beat Fear in 3 Moves
That prickling current rushes hotly through your veins as a harrowing chill races ruthlessly toward your core. Engaging conversation is reduced to white noise as your thoughts swell with doubt—slowly swallowing your composure. Your mental capacities are forcibly emptied of all resolve, and your once spirited tenacity turns to hollow trembling. You’re floating. But it’s not a sublime sort of soaring. It’s a taunting weightlessness that seems to manipulate gravity itself, taking your once determined will and suspending it in an utterly maddening paralysis.
You know the exact feeling I'm talking about. This dreaded sensation consumed me more times than I care to count in 2017—defining moments where fear pitted my want for growth against my want for comfort.
Growth can be terrifying because it requires stepping into the unknown. The opportunities for growth are all around us, but sometimes we miss them entirely because we’re wired to flee from fear. In some cases, our natures take over completely and deal with the fear before our conscious minds are ever given a chance to make a deliberate decision.
We have to override this default.
If we want to see growth and opportunity and goal-reaching and betterment in our lives, we have no choice but to walk right into the thick of fear and accept the fight. So, the next time that chilling feeling washes over you and your peace is turning to panic, try this:
#1. Lean In
We have to lean into that dreaded sensation as it’s happening and ask ourselves “Is this an opportunity for growth?" That physical manifestation of fear should be an indicator that whatever is provoking it is at least worth your consideration. Fear is a preservation mechanism that's either concerned for your survival or it’s concerned for your comfort. One of these should be heeded and the other should be taken down, smothered, and choked out. Refuse to retreat until you’ve determined which one it is.
Once you’re able to check the “I guess this won’t kill me” box, then learn to silence the fear long enough to weigh the value of the end result if you were to press on. Is that end result something that’s vital to your growth and you know will make your life better? Then choose to listen to the opportunity, rather than the opposition.
I have a rule I live by once I determine that fear is masking a life-changing opportunity:
Leap first. Logistics later.
I’ve already determined that the opportunity has legitimacy and relevancy to my life, so I deliberately shut the door on analysis and open the door to action. When you’re still in the thick of paralyzing fear, giving the brain too much analytical leeway will only cause it to overthink, and that urge to bail will kick in.
Don’t know what you’re going to say for that speech? Nobody does before they accept. Say yes and get to work. Don’t know if you will perform well on that test? There’s only one way to find out. Study hard and show up. Don’t know how you’re going to handle the weight of those new responsibilities yet? Accept the promotion and leave yourself no choice but to figure it out.
There’s a whole lot of failure with this approach, but all that means is that there’s a whole lot of priceless learning and experience gained as well. This, unfortunately, doesn’t come any other way. Refinement only happens in the fire. That is to say, betterment only happens by doing.
Even those who come out scathed come out more refined and exacted for a purpose than those who never went in.