Fear is one of the most powerful feelings that cripples our thinking and actions. It actually inhibits us from taking the right steps that can help fix the fear-causing problem. Let’s go through a series of steps that I have personally tried and tested over and over again.
Acknowledge the fear and the problem that’s causing it:
The first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem and that it needs to be addressed. Then start thinking about probable options that might be available to solve the problem. Write down those options so you don’t forget.
The worst thing to do is procrastinate, sleep, watch a movie and hope to face the elephant in the room at a later time. It just makes things worse as a lot of the solutions might not be available anymore with passing time.
Reach out for help, and talk about the fear:
Talk to a trusted person about your fear and the worst possible outcome.
- How probable is the worst outcome?
- What is a more probable outcome?
- Is there anyway to fix the situation?
Think high and low. Really try to brainstorm with your friend for solutions. Carefully hear yourself explain what your fear is about. You will notice that as you verbalize the problem, the fear starts reducing and the situation doesn’t seem to be as bad as you initially thought. The mind tends to magnify the problem in the presence of fear.
Talking helps to right size the fear. You will notice that potential solutions to overcome or circumvent the problem will manifest just by verbalizing the problem to another person.
The good thing about doing this with another person is that now two brains are at work which is better than one, especially when that one is clouded with fear. Moreover, now someone else is there sharing your burden. This makes the mind relax more and helps you to overcome fear by another notch.
(Feel free to contact me If for some reason you don’t want to share with a known person and/or want to keep this anonymous. My team and I will be happy to help.)
Take steps to systematically solve the fear-causing problem:
Break down the problem into small manageable chunks and try to write them down.
Let’s say you have a major presentation tomorrow morning at 8 am that you have made zero progress on.
So the small manageable pieces are:
- Content of your slides
- Your pitch
- Your attire
- Printing handouts
Now, brainstorm how to tackle each piece. Think what advise you would give a friend if he/she was going through the same problem.
Here is an example:
You can start by organizing all the information and then break it down into bullet points for your slides. Get graphics from Google, Flickr, etc. You are done!
Next, figure out what you want to speak for each slide. Get in front of the mirror and practice. Audio or video record yourself pitching a few times. Call a colleague and share what you have, discuss some questions to anticipate. This piece is also done! You feel more prepared now.
Select your attire, underwear, socks, shoes and keep them at one place so you don’t have to waste time in the morning.
You wake up in the morning and you are still rushing because you have to print the handouts and staple them before 8 am. Be creative and provide a tiny URL at the last slide so that people can download the handout and you can look good for saving the trees! Problem Solved!!
If you write it down in small steps, 50% of your problem is already solved. The rest 50% is execution.
Note: In case of a more complicated problem make sure to have back-up options for some of the small pieces of the problem. For example, have the PowerPoint saved in a flash drive as well as on Dropbox.
My personal bias:
Honestly, a little fear is healthy to get any task done diligently. After speaking in public for 10 years, I still feel a healthy dose of fear every time I speak. It helps me focus and pushes me to be prepared ahead of time. The above steps help to overcome the unhealthy fear that actually cripples us and inhibits our efficiency.
I personally rely deeply on prayer and meditation to overcome fear and anxiety. I find it extremely effective and it also boosts the effectiveness of the above mentioned steps. Sign up for my mailing list if you want to join one of my meditation workshops.
What other methods do you use to overcoming fear? Any experiences you want to share?