Over and over again this comes up in my conversation with young women.
Conversations that conquer fear –
There is something soothing and a little magical that promotes vulnerability when you come together over a beautiful cup of coffee.
And when that magic happens your heart is open enough to admit to asking yourself week after week of unaccomplished tasks what am I afraid of?
So what is fear?
The English Oxford dictionary defines it as –
1. an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
1.1 A feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something or the safety of someone.
1.2 The likelihood of something unwelcome happening.
When it comes to stepping out, trying something new or pursuing a goal fear usually hits us head on. Fear of failure, fear of being rejected, fear of being found out as a fraud and sometimes even the fear of living up to success.
During one of my earliest dance competitions I was looking through the program and noticed I had been placed in an elite category. Fear took over to the point of paralyzation. When I confronted my dance partner about the mistake he was quick to question what made me think I don’t belong out there?
It was then that I realized I didn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of people and dancers that I revered, respected and looked up to as mentors. A well known dance champion was passing by during our conversation and was shocked by my trepidation also agreeing that I belonged out on the dancefloor with those respected champions.
So,where did my fear of failure come from?
I agreed to face fear head on that day and accomplish my goal – I did not fall on my face or make a fool of myself. I didn’t win a medal but I did win the knowledge of how to overcome fear.
Three Practical steps on how to overcome fear:
First of all you must strategically identify what fear is to you. According to the above definition; it is a belief, feeling of anxiety or an actual likelihood. For years with my dancing it was a belief – a false belief I realized after several successful competitions.
Second you will need to play out a projected path.
For example at the moment a couple of hurricanes are headed towards our coast. A fear that expresses a feeling of anxiety would be expected with an onset of an impending storm. Yes there is the threat of danger. Threat is the key word. That is why there is so much emphasis on hurricane preparedness and tracking maps. When you are able to plan and prepare for what may happen you have less likelihood of being taken unaware and being unprepared. This is something you can document in a journal or even better yet this is the optimal time to share that comforting cup of coffee with a coach or mentor because when you’re able to verbally process and bounce ideas off someone else reality and unrealistic scenarios are better recognized.
I was obviously being unrealistic when I felt that I would humiliate myself by falling on my face in a competition seemingly out of my league. But with two outside voices of reason I was able to step out and pursue something that may have always remained beyond my grasp.
Lastly and most importantly is to take action and crush that fear by meeting it head on. This is the critical antidote on how to overcome fear. Some days it means boarding up the windows. Others it means sleeping in the dark. Or launching out on a new project ready or not.
So next time you find yourself asking what am I afraid of take it through these few steps and hopefully you’ll recognize that fear of failure or fear of letting someone down or being miss appropriately labeled as unqualified should never prevent you from living your best life.
I was able to spend the next few years collecting medals in competitions across the nation standing on the podium next to some of my mentors because I strategically learned how to overcome fear. What about you, what are you afraid of? Today is the day you decide you are more afraid of not trying, not stepping out, and not living the life you were meant to live!
And I will be on the sidelines cheering you on!