Overcoming Being Scared is Totally Doable
Fear is an interesting emotion. It can protect us and destroy us. Sometimes fear can even paralyze us, and it doesn’t have to. We’ve all been afraid of something at some time or other in our lives. Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s okay to be scared. Why the hell not? We’re wired that way.
The interesting phenomenon of human nature is that we THINK our fear is more real or more important than what we desire. Let’s explore that a little.
In this blog, we’re going to dive into the notion of doing something you might want to do even if you’re scared, as Mel Robbins so adequately put it. “It’s okay to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really, brave.”
What are some things that you might be afraid of? Are they holding you back from “going for what you want?” They can be complicated or simple.
Do you stand up for yourself at work, even though you’re afraid you’ll make a fool of yourself? Or maybe there’s someone you’d like to talk to, but you think you don’t have a chance. Will you, or won’t you? Will fear hold you back or will courage thrust you forward?
What about a job you really, really, want, and are afraid you won’t get, but then you go for it anyway. YOU GO FOR IT ANYWAY! Yay for you! What a concept! Doing any one of these things makes you really, really, brave!
What happens when we are scared?
We seem to put more credence on fear. Why would we do that? Because we are wired for impending danger. That’s right. We are wired for impending danger! It keeps us on high alert. Our stress hormones ready us at any given moment we sense danger. We get that from our primordial ancestors, waiting behind the cave, afraid to be eaten by a predator.
When we are scared, our brains secrete hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline that actually help save our lives by readying us to fight, flee or hide. However, if there is no impending danger and we run those stress hormones, it can run havoc on the body.
What Does Fear Look Like?
Today, we don’t have “real” predators waiting to eat us around the cave. We have “made up” ones, like Excel spreadsheets, feeling technologically impotent because we don’t know how to use our computers, phones, gadgets, etc.
We let fear of technology inhibit our talents, so it can be paralyzing. Which sometimes leads to procrastination, by the way. We don’t do “it”, because we don’t know how to do it. As we get intimidated, fear itself creates procrastination.
We also fear certain comments from our bosses, co-workers, peers, and even friends and family members. We look for all the possible dangers that lie ahead. We constantly analyze the best approach to take, “just in case”. Sometimes we edit ourselves so much, we are no longer authentic. We become a reflection of what we “think” others expect us to be.
Can we rewire our brains to do the thing that scares us anyway?
A resounding, YES.
Fear helps us in situations that call for no-brainer fast action, like jumping into a pool to rescue a drowning child. You don’t spend time thinking or analyzing how deep the water is. You just jump! This is from the prefrontal cortex of the brain.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” This statement encourages our scared little beings to be really brave. Eleanor Roosevelt was not only our first lady, she spent time advocating for expanded roles for women in the workplace, and other not-so-popular causes, which were pretty scary at that time, and she did it anyway.
Have you ever been afraid to give a speech in front of people? Did you feel anxious, nervous, clammy, with knots in your stomach? Those are natural sensations to experience, and get this, they are the SAME sensations you get when you’re excited! That’s right! EXCITED!
So, what if you told your mind that you were excited, instead of being scared? Your mind would then know there’s a good reason for feeling the way you do. You would lean on the side of excitement, instead of fear or anxiety. And, sure, you could be scared, but so what? Since your body doesn’t know the difference, excitement sure sounds like a lot more fun, doesn’t it?
Accept Fear in Order to Befriend It
In talking to your fear and befriending it, you take control of your actions by what you THINK. You can act on something you want to do, even if you’re scared. It happens all the time. Remember, it’s okay to be scared, so don’t think you are doing anything wrong or you’re weak. Feeling scared is a natural emotion.
Who doesn’t get scared? If you’re “almost” in a car accident, your body goes into full blown adrenaline rush mode, ready for danger. Even though the crash didn’t happen, your body got ready for it. However, if you were in the kitchen, and you felt scared for no good reason, your body would go into the same state with no impending danger, only in your mind. Who wants that?
Never Let Fear Hold You Back
I don’t think there is anyone on the planet who hasn’t felt scared. And, it doesn’t have to hold you back from doing what you want, even if you afraid of doing it.
Have you ever had an idea and you felt so excited about it? Then the monster-frontal-lobe-thinking-part-of-your-frontal-cortex stepped in? The warning thoughts get louder and LOUDER until they shout so loud they stop you right in your tracks. That has happened to me too many times I want to admit.
Once we engage in that negative-oriented thinking, our enthusiasm for the idea just gets sucked dry, and withers like a deflated helium balloon. Ugh! Why do we do that to ourselves?
Well, if you look at it from the perspective of being human, it’s no surprise that your rational, practical, survival brain wants to protect you. It will say, “You can’t do it,” “You’re not enough,” or blah blah blah. Oh, was that you I heard, Mr./Ms. Ego?
Oh, that ego just loves to count the ways for us NOT to do what our heart is yearning for, because it is there to protect us, to keep us safe. But who wants to be scared, safe and dissatisfied?
Do something, despite being scared! Approach that person you want to talk to. Share that something you’ve been holding in because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. When you speak from your heart and express “your experience”, you can share what you need to share with a little more ease and grace. Remember, hidden unexpressed communication brings up sensations of fear, of being rejected, of not being liked.
Don’t Think Too Much, Just Catapult into Action!
The question is, are you going to stuff your feelings? Will you let the feelings stew inside where nobody can see them and feel resentful? Are you going to face the fear and do it anyway?
I recently listened to best-selling author and CNN reporter, Mel Robbins’ book, The 5 Second Rule. She introduces a simple and wonderful tool to stop being paralyzed by scared thinking. 5-4-3-2-1 is a way to start listening to what your intuition is guiding you to “do” (in the name of the highest and greatest good, of course). Stop procrastination in its tracks even if you’re scared.
The 5 Second Rule opened my eyes in a different way too. I realized that I didn’t have to “think” my way out of something I wanted to do, which ultimately became excuses I made that sounded good. What I learned is how much I have let my “thinking” take over, and how my excitement from any ideas I had just dissipated in that process because I was afraid. Of what really?
Mel came up with her discovery of the 5-second rule from a morning routine that didn’t change. Every morning, she always hit the snooze button on her alarm clock, more than once, sometimes even 5 times. Can you relate to that? One night, she watched a rocket take off from its launch pad. She heard, “5-4-3-2-1 blast off!”
At that moment, she realized that you can take an action just like that, even if you’re scared or “don’t feel like” doing. Ultimately what was holding you back will catapult you forward, help you to grow, and gain confidence. Now, the moment she hears the alarm, she says, “5-4-3-2-1” and gets up right away. It’s as simple as that.
Well, this hit home for me. It was the piece that catapulted me into action, right away. I’ve used something similar, but not as immediate as this rule. When I’m intentional, and I know I want to get something done by a certain time, I pretend I’m on a TV show. I have X amount of time to get it done and I set a timer. I know it sounds silly, but it really helps. I even hum the tune that goes with the time beeping by. I have fun with it.
Ready, Fire, Aim!
For years I took a ton of courses in how to conquer fear with T Harv Eker’s company, Peak Potentials. He found a formula for each situation. One of his favorite sayings was, “Ready, Fire, Aim,” focusing on opportunities over obstacles. When you’re ready it’s time to act, then aim. You can always adjust. Everyone has their own way of describing it. It all boils down to the same concept. Feel the fear. Allow it, and do “it” (whatever the “it” is) anyway.
Find ways to act, in spite of being scared. In studying with with other great minds, I have learned the art of taking imperfect action, even in the face of fear.
When I heard the science behind this 5-second phenomenon, I loved the concept even more. I discovered it takes 5 seconds for the thinking mind to KILL any idea that comes up. If your instincts are telling you to “do” something, and you don’t follow it within 5 seconds, your mind just crushes the idea like a bug. YUK! You don’t even need anyone else to stop you. You do a good job yourself.
I realized that there have been many 5-second moments where I let my thinking mind kill my ideas, more than I care to mention here. The sad part about that is, I didn’t even remember what the ideas were after a while. I shut myself down so much, the juicy ideas just left the building! I didn’t even write them down! Go figure! What a self-saboteur!
Now, I am not only allowing my instincts to come forth, but I am also encouraging them, and not letting my “stinky thinking” mind/ego stop me, even if I’m scared.
How to Stop Making Excuses, and Listen to Your Heart and Soul
Sometimes we think ourselves right out of an experience that fulfills us, gives us joy, excitement, and wonderful memories. However, because we get scared, we talk ourselves out of the idea. We may even come up with justified reasons not to go after what we dream about.
Whatever the reasons we conjure up NOT do the things we are called to do, are just excuses that keep us from living the way our heart and soul encourage us to live. It’s that insistent stinking thinking mind of ours that gets in the way. We need to tame that mind, and the thinking that goes with all the limitations the mind believes are true.
There are several things you can do.
- First, step out of your comfort zone. It’s is a good thing. It’s healthy and promotes growth. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- Take baby steps. When you break down your goals into teeny tiny daily steps, it’s much easier to make that initial leap. It’s the small adjustments that make the biggest changes.
- Be aware of using distractions as a way of not doing what you want to be doing. They just take up precious time. (I keep wanting to look at my emails while I am writing this blog.)
- Don’t compare yourself to others. When you compare yourself to others, you insert the fear that they know more than you do, and that fear will stop you in your tracks.
- Reflect on what you really want. What goals are awaiting you? Be determined to be the kind of person who finishes and succeeds at what you want to achieve. Remember you have a 5-second window to either be the same person you were yesterday, or the new one you want to be today.
- And, this one was the hardest one for me to accept, stop multitasking! What? The queen of “I can do this and that and that and this?” How is it possible to focus on just ONE thing? Well, the only way I’m going to get this blog written is to write it! I know that sounds simple, but so many other shiny objects call my attention all the time. Does that happen to you?
Once you become aware of what it is you truly desire, you can go for it, even if it scares you. So, what stops you is your beliefs. Being scared comes from a belief in something that makes you fearful.
We all have been attached to beliefs that have held us back from one thing or another. It doesn’t really matter where we got the limiting beliefs from, it’s what we do with what we believe now.
Once we are aware of the 5-Second Rule, it helps us take action after we identify the limited/scared belief that is holding us back. We can then choose a new belief and a new behavior, all adding up to a new way of being.
This 5-second rule is perfect in helping you change what you need to change faster than a speeding bullet. When you dive into what beliefs are holding you back, and see how those beliefs impact how you behave, you then notice who you become. All these BE’s are building blocks of one another.
Choose to go ahead with whatever you want to do in 5-4-3-2-1 fashion and JUST DO IT, as Nike so aptly says. You can even tell your mind that you’re excited, instead of anxious or fearful, since the mind doesn’t know what is “real” anyway.
Because it doesn’t matter if a belief is based in truth or not, we might as well feed ourselves something yummy, delicious to focus on. It’s better than thinking something that brings us to a scary place of gloom and doom.
Remember, it’s okay to be scared, especially when trying on something new. It’s natural, but it doesn’t mean fear has to stop you from experiencing the fullness of your life. How many times have you stopped yourself from doing something you really wanted to do because the fear/excuses became louder than your desires?
I’d love to hear your comments. Please write them below so we can share your thoughts with others. You just never know who you are helping by what you express.
It’s your life. Enjoy the journey. And remember to bring love into everything you do.