It’s easy to shy away from things that scare us. Fear is a powerful emotion, after all – one that can stop you dead in your tracks and keep you from going after your dreams.
But, simply avoiding the things you’re afraid of could mean missing out on opportunities and experiences that can positively shape your life. Face your fears head on, and you’ll be that much closer to becoming a more confident, empowered and successful person.
When your brain is in fear mode, its instinct is to protect you. So, it catalogues everything that could go wrong in a certain situation and recalls any associated memories of failure you might have. As a result, you get stuck and unable to take action.
But there is rational and irrational fear. Things like skydiving naturally, or rationally, instill fear. But irrational fears, like being afraid of peer disapproval, are a sign of what you should be doing, what you’re destined to do and what you really want. Dig into those fears, and use them as a sign to guide your life.
Want to be fearless?
Get clarity around what causes you to fear something, and then learn how to overcome it. Rewire your brain to turn something that scares you into something that excites you. Believe you have what it takes to make anything happen.
When I first started thinking about launching my own business, I was terrified of failing. I compared myself to other people. I questioned if I had what it would take to succeed. I was scared my friends and family would judge me if I didn’t.
Pretty soon, my fears started to take hold of me. What initially worried me about one thing began holding me back from accomplishing anything.
It wasn’t until I learned how to embrace my fears that I was able to start building the business and lifestyle I had always dreamed about.
You know what the game-changer was for me? These exercises:
• Get to the root of your fears. When fear sinks in, it’s likely because you have some kind of limiting belief holding you back (maybe an experience from your childhood or pattern you’ve witnessed in other situations). To push forward, you have to reframe those underlying beliefs to realize they don’t actually exist. My team does an exercise called “5 Whys,” which resembles the cause-and-effect technique created by Toyota’s Sakichi Toyoda. In it, we each list something we want to do, and why we’re afraid of it. Asking why we’re afraid five times over, we’re able to get to the root of our problems and rewrite them in a positive way.
• Walk through ‘what if’ scenarios. I watched a TED talk called “Turning Fear into Fuel” that taught a process to overcome your fears. It’s really easy to do – and insanely helpful. First, think about the life you want to create. Then, visualize your future self walking through three scenarios on your way toward achieving it: What would happen if I fail? What would happen if I do nothing? What would happen if I succeed? Through this exercise, you’ll learn two valuable lessons: First, the things you perceive yourself “failing” at are typically things you can recover from. Second, more often than not, the “What would happen if I do nothing?” scenario is often the scariest of all.
• Rewrite the story. With your fears identified, you can positively change your belief systems and reframe your mind. Rather than believing that you’ll be rejected, think of the exciting possibilities that could come out of meeting new people. Get excited, be optimistic and use fear to fuel your efforts. A constructive mindset can lead you to accomplish things you never before thought possible.
The point is, you don’t have to be a naturally born risk taker to be fearless and succeed. Remember fear is simply a mindset, and that means you can change it. So the next time it strikes, don’t hold back: Flex your fear muscle to achieve your dreams.
Sara Davidson (@saradavidson) is founder and CEO of Hello Fearless, the school for female entrepreneurs. She teaches women how to build highly impactful and profitable businesses and is the go-to for all things related to launching, growing and scaling ideas. After spending years marketing and building major brands and tech startups, she now helps ambitious entrepreneurial change-makers fearlessly give their gifts to the world so they can make a difference and achieve big, bold dreams.