Being fearful and scared can hold you back and stop you from achieving your full potential in your business, but you can overcome fear by simply re-framing it.
Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone, or something, is dangerous and likely to cause you pain, or a threaten you in some way.
It’s an emotion that most people would rather not experience because it doesn’t feel very nice and causes us to be reactive, rather than taking a measured response. This isn’t the best way to overcome fear, as when you react in such a way, you don’t perform at your best and can’t focus as well on the task at hand.
Not all fears are bad or negative
Although unpleasant, fear is fundamental to being human. Throughout human history, fear has helped people to survive and evolve. Cavemen were afraid of predators because of the harm they could cause and avoided them as much as possible! They also made weapons to try to defend themselves when a confrontation couldn’t be avoided.
As a result of that primal fear, humans have devised early detection methods to try to minimize the damage and prevent the loss of human life. You may be familiar with the fight, flight or freeze response which is our automatic response when faced with fear or danger; fear protects you and keeps you safe from harm.
The problem is that for many people the automatic fear response is going off at everyday stressors, such as having to give a presentation, going live on Facebook or going to a networking meeting. Fear is a whole lot worse when you’re also chronically stressed and struggling with anxiety – it can be really paralyzing.
While a certain amount of fear can be motivating as it helps you step outside of your comfort zone, it can stop you from achieving goals and growing your business.
What’s behind the fear?
It’s important to try and understand what is behind your fear, and why you so afraid of whatever is behind it. Why do you fear what you fear?
For example, if you fear public speaking (Glossophobia – as many as 75% of people do), it may be because you’re worried about being the centre of attention in front of lots of people. You might fear that you’ll be judged on how you look, that you’ll be unable to hold their attention or feel worried about stuttering or making a mistake.
In fact, making mistakes is a key element behind most fears. Most entrepreneurs are afraid of making mistakes in business, as it can feel like everyone is watching.
Society has largely taught us that making mistakes is not a good thing to do, often resulting in negative consequences. As a result, we do our best to avoid making a mistake because of what might happen if we even try.
Societal influence (what will people think?) and pressure is a key reason why entrepreneurs fear mistakes, and a key reason why they have fears.
To some extent, everyone in business wants to live up to their audience/peers standards and expectations. You try your best, but often become so nervous and fearful of what people might say/think, that you don’t achieve as much as you want or deserve to.
This constant fear comes from the fact that everyone wants to belong, we want to be accepted by others for who we are and what we do. When we fail to live up to those expectations (such as making mistakes), we fear rejection or isolation by others as a result. This can be heightened if you’re in business, as it can feel like you’re already isolated from friends and family who just don’t get what you do – you might feel like you are in full view of people waiting for you to make a mistake.
The impact of fear
When you are fearful of what other people think of you, or fear being rejected or ridiculed, it takes a massive toll on your focus, your self-confidence and even your self-worth. It’s harder to put the focus on the work you need to do to achieve your goals. It’s almost impossible to to accomplish great things when you’re always fearful of what other people think of you.
It’s essential that you move past these fears and end them so that they no longer stand in the way of your goals, dreams, and aspirations.
So how do you even begin to overcome fear and become fearless? Read on…
Tips to overcome fear
- Embrace positivity. It’s easy to feel worn down with negative thoughts about fear, but try and see your fear in a positive light. If you fear public speaking, instead of fearing you’re going to make a mistake and cock things up, focus on the idea that you’re going to speak well and that the speech will be a success. Positive visualization can be really useful. Have you ever thought or visualized an outcome and then it happens in real life? When you think something is going to happen, it often does. Therefore, if you think you’re going to make a mess of your speaking gig, chances are high that you’ll sabotage it with your negative thinking and fears. However, if you are confident in the material you plan to speak on and think positively and confidently about the speech you’re going to make, chances are high that the speech will go well.
- Get curious. Be curious about your specific fears and take some time out to think and be objective, rather than being attached to your fears. You have to know exactly what thoughts and situations are causing that fear, when exactly you feel that fear, and your usual response to that fear, including how it’s impacting your life. What exactly is making you afraid? Is it a fear of making mistakes? Is it a fear of being rejected by others because of who you are and what you stand for? Is it something else? Get complete clarity on what’s behind your fear.
- Take action. Knowing and understanding your fear can help you to learn why you have this fear, as well as rationalize a way to end it. If you’re afraid of public speaking, you could consider enrolling on a course to help you build your confidence. If you are afraid of making mistakes, rationalize that making mistakes actually helps you learn and improve #failforward. Take comfort in the fact that virtually no important medical discovery was found the first time the scientist tried to find it; he/she had to go through many tests and tries (i.e. mistakes or failures) before making the discovery. This is further proof that mistakes are not bad in themselves, unlike what society often tells us, but we can learn from them and improve ourselves by analyzing them and avoiding similar mistakes in the future.
- Counteract. If you are afraid of others rejecting you because of your Facebook live videos, your marketing emails, or any other reason, think about why their opinion matters to you? Is their opinion true? Does everyone who follows you have the same opinion? It’s highly likely they don’t. Find your tribe and associate with people who have similar values to your own. The people who ridicule and reject you are not people you want to associate and hang around with anyway, so you aren’t missing out. Do this every time a fear surfaces and counteract it with 3 positives. Remind yourself that you can embrace challenges, even when they feel scary.
- Communicate. When you have a fear, it’s helpful to acknowledge it and get it out into the open so that you can analyze it and find ways to overcome it. Talking with a family member, close friend or business buddy can help you to determine why you have this fear and how to best overcome it. They can reassure you that you can overcome your fears and may even have a positive experience of their own to motivate and inspire you. For something like going live on Facebook, a friend can help you prepare notes and be your guinea pig to practice on, giving you constructive feedback where needed. This will help you become more confident about being on camera and knowing what you’re going to say. An outside influence can help you to rationalize your fears and often see your strengths and abilities far better than you can.
- Journal. Another good way to acknowledge and address a fear is through a journal or diary. By keeping a daily log of your thoughts and fears, you can analyse the fear in writing and work out which thoughts are leading you to have a particular fear. You can also brainstorm your fear and come up with practical solutions to overcome it, so it doesn’t stand in the way of your goals and achievements.
- Try Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Tapping: Tap on the 9 tapping points whilst repeating your specific fear. What comes up for you? By being curious about your fear, you can learn a great deal. You can also use EFT for tapping positive ‘fearless’ affirmations.
- Educate yourself. Sometimes, reading up on the type of fear you have can really help as you can learn what other people have done to overcome the same or similar fears. This can be in the form of books (whether its biographical, motivational, inspirational, etc.), reading blogs and reaching out in Facebook groups.
- Get expert help. There is no shame in getting professional help to overcome your fears. Some fears are so profound and debilitating that they are hard to overcome on your own. A supportive therapist will gently delve into the issues surrounding your fear and can help you develop a plan to overcome it.
Everyone has fears, but the power to overcome them is within your grasp, and doing so is essential to achieving your best potential, reaching your inner greatness, and having the most satisfying and fulfilling life possible.
Are you feeling more able to overcome fear in your business? Or maybe you’d like to share something which has helped you? Comment below!