Cassie McCully is self-proclaimed introvert with extroverted ways. She’s a mother of two and a wife to one wonderful husband. She’s also a writer, a runner, a book lover, a crafter, a baker, a dream seeker and an Olweus Bully Prevention Program (OBPP) Trainer with a soft-spot for bullied teens. Find her at her blog, A Serenade for Solitude and on facebook.
Recently, during a late-night Pinterest session, I spotted a reoccurring theme on my “Quote” board. As I navigated through the bold typography and inspiring images, I couldn’t help but pause. There were 15+ quotes and images on the subject, FEAR. Was my subconscious trying to reacquaint me with my own baggage, or what? When I began to fear the fact that I have an issue with fear, I knew I had to start digging. I had to get to know my fears and learn how to overcome them.
1. Be aware.
When a scenario, idea or daydream has been on replay giving you near heart-palpitations, and you spend more time thinking of excuses or how you can avoid such a scene, fear may be lurking in the shadows. Before you run from the discomfort, try to understand it.
2. Name it.
What is your fear? What is holding you back? Why do you hear NO when you want to say YES? If you are having a difficult time pin-pointing the root of the fear, draw yourself a web, a bubble chart or a tree with branches. On the lines add in details of experiences, conversations, tipping points, emotions, people etc. You may find a theme or the root of your fear if you’ve been having trouble isolating the issue. Naming the fear—fear of failure, inadequacy, regret, betrayal etc. will help you begin to sift through the contributing factors to your fear.
3. Read between the lines.
Is what you’re telling yourself fact or fiction? We often don’t try new things or go after the things we desire because we’ve already told ourselves that it won’t turn out good. It’s things like, going to a job interview and telling yourself, There’s two positions, 37 applicants and one of me. I guess I’ll go home now. Or giving yourself a presumptuous fail and proclaiming to yourself,I’ve been out of school so long, I’m going to fail my grad school entrance exam, instead of buckling down, telling yourself YOU CAN! and focusing on how to pass the test with flying colors.
4. Question it.
How is your fear holding you back and how is it affecting you, your relationships, your future, etc.? Rate your fear on a scale of 1 to 10. List the pros and cons to having such a fear. Lay it all on the table and pick it apart. Doing so will help you see if your fear is a hill or a mountain to climb, or if you can make a quick detour and be on your way.
5. Don’t be trigger happy.
What are the triggers that cause you to go deer-in-the-head-lights or kick your fight or flight instincts into full gear? Does the thought of public speaking make you want to throw-up? Did your study partner stare at you while you laughed at your own joke, twice? Do the thin girls on the treadmill make it hard to step on? Choose not to be swayed by the discomfort, but instead agree to move in the direction of your goal.
6. Change your outlook.
For instance…If you can’t dance, you can’t dance. But once you realize you aren’t in high school anymore, Zumba is fun even if you don’t have coordination! And remember, nobody looks foolish when they’re having fun! Choose an outlook that focuses on what will bring you happiness not keep you from discomfort.
7. Imagine the future.
What will you be doing when you overcome this fear? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 years? It’s not uncommon that a person can envision themselves living a completely awesome life without inhibitions, but be paralyzed in reality. Remember the vision you have for your life and make small daily steps toward living it.
8. Share it.
Discussing and communicating your fear is a healthy and helpful way to begin to dismantle a fear. Doing so with a close friend, family member, therapist or life coach can help validate what is true and false in the thoughts that have been causing struggle, and help you put your fear in perspective. Who knows, maybe your fear is the same as your co-worker or your new sister-in-law? By sharing your fear, you can break down walls together.
9. Write it.
Just as there is something fantastic about writing a list or a letter (that you would never actually send) writing about your fear in all of its silliness or complexity can be therapeutic. Once you’re finished, toss it, burn it, or write a giant X on it and tack it to the wall to symbolize that you will no longer accept the fear and that you’re beginning a new chapter.
10. Release it.
Accepting life for all of its unexpected, awkward, messy, awesome, life-changing moments and agreeing to embrace the learning curve is the best way to release any hold fear might have on your life. Agreeing that fear is only a set-back and not a way of life is the best way to release, regroup and forge ahead. There’s no time for fear! You were made for so much more