We all have fears that hold us back. I call them ’emotional fears’ – it’s not a fear of spiders or snakes or something tangible, it’s the big fears like public speaking, going to a networking event alone, that kind of thing – so many people struggle with them and in order to fully step in to your badassery, you’ve gotta get to grips with it. Easier said than done, right? How are you supposed to overcome something that genuinely scares you? Essentially these kind of fears lie in fear of being vulnerable or embarrassed. Overcoming them is all about baby steps. Here are my top five tips to getting back in the game.
What’s the worst that can happen?
Have a think about it. If your fear is public speaking, have a think about the absolute worst case scenario if you were to get up and speak in front of people. What does it involve? You’ll forget what to say? You’ll blush? People will laugh at you? Really dig in there. Imagine the worst, then imagine how you’ll deal with it. If you make a mistake, it won’t swallow you – every action has a reaction, right? So, plan the reaction. If you’re a blusher, as I am, and that’s one of your fears, imagine you’ll make a joke of it or take a few seconds to take a couple of deep breaths, then continue on. Whatever it is, plan the reaction and suddenly it’s not so scary.
You don’t have to dive in with both feet
The prospect of trying to overcome a fear can be so overwhelming, you feel like you’ll never get to grips with it. But who says you have to tackle it all at once? Break it down into bite size chunks. Take little baby steps in the right direction. To use the public speaking example again – your first gig won’t be in front of 5000 people. How about you just practice speaking in front of a couple of friends, then a room full of five strangers and so on. Just dip a toe in before you dive all the way in.
Rope someone else in
Who says you have to suffer alone? Rope a friend in to suffer with you! I kid, there’s no suffering involved here but it does help to have someone you can share the experience with. Perhaps you both have different fears, perhaps you have the same one – come up with a plan that you can work towards together.
I am a massive believer in writing things down. Set a plan for yourself and write a little every day about your progress and how you feel. When you see it written down, you’ll see clearly how far you’ve come. Additionally, if you’re struggling, you can more easily identify the triggers when you see it in black and white. Write it out people, write it out.
Fake it til you make it
I have a massive fear of large events with lots of people. I suck at ‘networking’. I don’t find it easy to approach people and talk. I have been known to walk in to an event and walk right out again a couple of minutes later because the fear just crippled me. It takes a lot, but when I know I have to go to an event, I have to psych myself up. I play the role of a super confident, chatty, witty blogger chick who is totally in control. Inside, my guts are churning, but I’ll be damned if I don’t win a Best Actress Oscar for how well I can hide it. And the more I play the role, the more comfortable I become with it as the evening progresses. It’s not always easy, but especially if it’s something that can prevent you excelling it what you love the most, fake it til you make it.