According to Paolo Coelho, “The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself,” and Eleanor Roosevelt adds, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do”.
Don’t let your fears frustrate you, limit you, or – even worse – paralyze you. See fear as a warning light, not as a red light. I see it over and over again with my clients: Once they start doing what they fear, their fear goes away. Mark Twain knew this already a hundred years ago when he said: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than with the ones that you did.”
Face your fears. Ninety percent of them are pure imagination anyway. Illusions! Incredible stories of drama and disaster that will probably never happen and are made up by your mind – “the world’s greatest director of soap operas,” as T. Harv Eker calls it, to keep you in your comfort zone. The only problem is that great things like development, growth, and success happen outside of the comfort zone.
Fear is your mind’s survival mechanism. It wants to keep you safe, and anything that it doesn’t know scares it. This was good thousands of years ago when you had to run from big predators to avoid getting eaten, but nowadays, most of the time, it hurts us. Most of the time, behind your fears, there will be great opportunities waiting for you, so make it a habit always to ask yourself: ”What’s the worst thing that can happen to me if I do this?” and evaluate if the risk is worth taking or not.
Be careful. There is also a price for not taking a risk or stepping out of your comfort zone.
Ask yourself, “What price am I paying for staying the same or not doing this?” Is it a higher one than the price of taking the risk? This also includes intangible things like inner peace, happiness, health, etc.
Start changing your relationship with fear, one step at a time. Let it warn you and consult you – sometimes, you can even use it as motivation or fuel – but don’t let it paralyze or limit you. For example, I used to be totally paralyzed by fear and stayed stuck in my job for five years because of the fear of change or the unknown.
Nowadays, when my mind is invaded by fear and doubts, I think to myself, “Hm, if there are so many doubts and fears, I must be on the right track. I better take action.”
Do the things you fear: make that call you don’t want to make, send that e-mail you don’t want to send, ask that person you’re afraid to ask and see what happens. When you notice fear, have a look at it, observe it, analyze it, but don’t believe it. Instead, ask it, “Fear, my old friend! What are you doing here again? What’s your game? Are you here to warn me, or do you want to paralyze me?”