Fear is a part of our existence. Our DNA is hard wired and our physical responses to real danger are instinctive. But fear is not danger but a mental perception of a possible danger. This is a key distinction that almost everyone misses.
Fear lives in the unknown. We are afraid of what we don’t know. We feel fear when we are unsure of the outcome of a situation and it cripples us. We need to learn how to tame fear.
Permitting fear to guide your existence allows your mind to create a negative response to the unknown. You hear a sound in the middle of the night and immediately feel threatened. You lie still in the bed hoping nothing else will happen as your mind bubbles up all kinds of negative scenarios. It is simply illogical!
Why not get up and see what the sound may be? If it is a real danger you are not helping yourself lying in bed! Check it out if it bothers you and get back to sleep.
We have fear of looking foolish, heightened by the media’s projection of their image of perfection. This fear prevents us from becoming who we really are. It keeps us from pursuing our dreams, living small, stagnate and full of regrets.
What’s the downside?
If for example, you have to speak in front of a group what is the worst thing that can happen? You flub it, or do just an okay job? So what! You are not the focus of the audience’s day, it is forgotten so fast. Ever been to a boring speech or bad concert? How long did you hang onto it?
It’s a good thing to feel nervous and desire to do a good job. However, we need to channel the nervous energy we feel into positive action. Acknowledge the presence of your nervousness, it happens to everyone, even seasoned pros, athletes and performers. If you don’t feel nerves at all, you don’t care and that’s worse! You just need to put it into proper perspective.
If you cannot convince yourself that your presentation is not going to cure cancer and feel undue pressure, then get better prepared. Practice and prepare if it’s a presentation, performance etc. If it’s a social thing, ‘practice’ in smaller, less intimidating situations. Preparation is the antidote but will not completely cancel your nerves. It is also important to know that your audience wants to like you and that you know your stuff better than 90 percent of them. Prepare, do and move on.
Make a Real Effort, Its All That Counts
We all have different interests and goals; it’s what makes life and people so interesting! I love meeting people with unusual passions; it’s refreshing to see them pursue them vigorously. Don’t be shy, whether you want to learn to dance, swim, read tarot cards, learn to ride a bike, paint etc. block out your fear and start participating. Stop being self conscious, the world does not revolve around you. When and if criticism comes your way, use it constructively even if it came mean spiritedly. Learn from it and strengthen your resolve to grow.
This quote by Teddy Roosevelt says it all, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; who strives valiantly; who errs, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those who neither know victory nor defeat.”
There is a substantive difference between fear and danger. Our need to control and insulate ourselves imprisons us in a small, supposedly safe existence. Say yes to life now, stop saying no due to unfounded and unrealistic feelings of fear.
If you do not do well in your endeavor don’t allow it define who you are and don’t let it get to your heart. Just as importantly, if you do well don’t let it get to your head!
For a memorable example of dealing with fear in a life threatening situation check out Marble Mountain – a memoir of a Vietnam helicopter pilot. It’s a gripping insight at the incredible challenges the brave men and women who served faced. Marble Mountain Link Check it out!