Fear, we all know it. It’s like that distant aunt you have but don’t really like, and just like your aunt fear will only ever appear just when you’re about to do something really important. During that crucial period of time she creeps up and shuts you down.
The original purpose of fear in humans just as it is with animals has always been about surviving. Built into our system, this fight or flight mode is automatically switched on when we sense danger. When we experience fear, our hearts starts racing, our muscles tense up and we automatically feel like running away.
As time passes and as we have learnt to live in safer places, places where we no longer have to worry about a possible bear attack or a tiger jumping at us as we walk on the street;
We as human beings begin to evolve and this evolution has also altered the way we fear. We have progressed as a species to a point where we no longer find the need to be actively on the lookout in order to survive another day.
We have become specialized beings that have outsourced our basic needs –to survive, to a different authority and instead now concentrate our efforts on being well liked, accumulating wealth and becoming a functioning member of society. With this specialization, our fear has become more acute and is heightened to these things we deem necessary to survive in our society.
Although the things we fear have evolved to cater and adapt to our surroundings however the way we react to fear has remained the same. Whenever we face things that makes us afraid; things like spiders, speaking in front of large audiences or raising an issue with our bosses, our bodies automatically goes into that fight or flight mode, our minds still assume that the best course of action is to run instead of standing our ground and ‘fighting’ for what we believe in.
The fighting part of this mode needs to be activated; we will continue to be paralysed when we encounter things that make us afraid unless we actively turn the ‘fight’ switch on. We can no longer be in denial or be selective about the reality we want to accept. Life is worth living and if we continue to let our fears dictate how we live our lives, we will find it extremely difficult to become success, I didn’t say impossible I just say that it will be extremely difficult.
If you are like me and are finding it difficult to get over these unfathomable fears by taking it head on, if you need a less direct and are looking for subtler way to ease out of your fears here are 3 simple steps you can take every time you come in contact with your fears.
1. Familiarize Yourself
Sometimes in life, it can very much be like a very difficult level on a video game and
just like that Super Mario in the picture, both you and I will feel like there are many threats all around us just waiting for us to slip up.
For us to be able to get to the next level we need to get over these obstacles and we cannot have fear in our way. We can try pretending that the fear isn’t there but that will not help us get very far. We need to instead find out why we have this fear to begin with.
The fear we feel is usually based on a very real experience we have encountered, but if you are anything like me you have not we have absolutely no idea what that experience was to have triggered such a response. It could have been something you’ve encountered as a child and did not understand, it could be something you were brought up to fear or it could also be that the last time when you were younger, you tried to faced this ‘fear’ head on and it ended badly for you thus setting a precedence in your mind to always save yourself when encountering this same encounter.
Whatever the reason may be, it is still good for you to find the root cause of the problem. Unfamiliarity breeds fear, but if we know exactly what we are dealing with then it would be simpler to take one step towards every time we encounter it. We need to have a game plan on knowing this fear better and taking it down.
I have had the fear of speaking with my superiors and voicing my opinions for the longest time. Back when I was interning, the fear was very over whelming that I found it absolutely difficult to ask for help or more clarification when carrying out a task. I would also not talk to my boss unless I was spoken to and when I was spoken to I usually said yes or alright and tried to get out of the conversation as quickly as I could.
After skirting around my boss and always asking my colleagues when I needed more help, I’ve realized it would take me twice as long to get a job done as opposed to simply asking my supervisor for more help. Acknowledging that I have a problem, I then began to familiarize myself with it, uncovering the reason to me being so afraid of speaking out. Through a series of questions and a whole lot of reflecting I’ve come to realise that I did not like the feeling of being shot down and being made to feel small.
2. Just wait five seconds
Realising that I had this problem and understanding what got me into the state of panic, I’ve come to realise that I needed to convince myself that this fear is not as big as I initially thought it up to be. There was this one quote from a Hindi movie I once (twice, maybe a hundredth times) watched called the 3 idiots that really inspired me. The quote states that our hearts are easily shaken, if we are to forever follow what it says we’ll never do anything worth doing. To overcome this we would have to trick our heart by saying ‘All izz well’.
Taking five seconds to just be still, to take a deep breath and just waiting whilst saying ‘All izz well’ over and over again has greatly helped me in overcoming my fears. After that five seconds of convincing myself that all is well, my body –that was initially running on all kinds of frenzy, realized that there is nothing to fear, that nothing has happened yet, and we are probably doing just fine.
Towards the end of my internship, every time I needed to talk to my then supervisor –who would shoot down my ideas on a good day and look at me like I was stupid on bad ones, I would take a deep breath and just wait five seconds as I chant ‘all is well’.
I’ve found that my fast beating heart would calm down and I would also actually believe that everything was going to be okay. And although I still got shot down after presenting my ideas to my supervisor or got looked at like I was stupid when asking important questions that needed me to get the job done, I was better able to pick myself up, take in the good things he had said and pretended that I had only imagined the condescending demeanor.
3. Join a support group
Being able to overcome a part of your fear no matter how small is a big deal, thus you would need to celebrate it to ensure that you send a message to yourself to continuous look for new ways to better yourself. But what’s the point of celebrating if there is no one to share it with.
You would need someone to support you, to help encourage you and ensure that you continue to always flip on the fight switch whenever you encounter an unreasonable fear.
You can share your challenges and triumphs with either one or more people who share the same fear as you or people who can identify with what you are going through. This will ignite the fire within to want to take the next step.
I’ll have to admit I wouldn’t have been able to voice out my opinion if I didn’t have people who had my back, people who understood what I was going through and people who were there to console me as I slowly licked my wounds.
If you could identify with being afraid and overcoming your fear, or are still on your way thriving towards become the superstar that you’re destined to be, comment below and let me know what you think!