Feel the fear and do it anyway

February 28, 2012

Anxiety, Fear, Self-esteem, Self-improvement

Fear is an emotion raised by a real or imagined impending danger.

by Irene Conlan — 

At a luncheon recently, some ladies were overheard discussing the things they wanted to do or had been asked to do but were too afraid to try. One had been asked to give a presentation at an upcoming PTA meeting, and another was asked to chair a committee, but both were afraid of making any kind of presentation to a group or room full of people. One wanted to take a dance class but said she was too klutzy and would be embarrassed. The more the women talked, the more they reinforced each other’s fears and inabilities.

Facing our fears may not be easy, but it is always worthwhile. The payoff can be big — sometimes even huge. So what will these women lose if they do not accept their challenges?

Let’s make it clear that we are not talking about anxiety or panic attacks here. When anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations and results in physical symptoms, it is an anxiety attack. Panic attacks are sudden surges of overwhelming fear that come without warning and without any obvious reason. They are far more intense than anxiety or the stressed-out feeling that most people experience from time to time. (For more on anxiety and panic attacks see www.anxietypanic.com.)

Fear is an emotion raised by a real or imagined impending danger. Situations that would inspire genuine fear, for example, might include seeing a car coming straight at you in your lane of traffic, watching a tornado head in your direction, hearing a stranger in your house in the middle of the night, being chased by a vicious dog or being trapped in a burning building. In such dangerous situations, it is critical to pay attention and act quickly and appropriately because survival is at stake.

Imaginary dangers, on the other hand, might include fear of speaking up even when you know the correct answer, fear of meeting unfamiliar people, fear of trying something new even though it is something you have always wanted to do, fear of being alone, fear of failure or success. The list goes on and on and on.

These fears reside in the imagination, holding you back and keeping you from enjoying life to the fullest extent. They put you in the trap of “I cannot,” “If only” and “I wish.”

So how can you get out of this trap? Well, Nike has the answer. Even if you are sick and tired of hearing it, the answer is “Just do it.” Yes, feel the fear and do it anyway.

Before you decide to “go for it,” consider the following guidelines when you want to overcome your fear:

  • What is the fear about? Is it real or imaginary?
  • What is the worst that can happen?
  • What is the best that can happen?
  • Is it worth the risk?

Let’s look at some possible scenarios.

Let us say you want to meet the beautiful woman or handsome man you see at a party, but you shiver with fear at the thought of taking the initiative. Examine it. What is the fear about? Rejection? Embarrassment? Is it real or imaginary? Then ask yourself, “What is the worst outcome that can happen if I approach this person?” He or she might reject me, right? So, then what? Would that shatter you or change your life in any irreversible way?

You could simply think “next” and move on. Then ask yourself, “What is the best that can happen?” You might find there is a mutual interest and you enjoy his or her company at the party and perhaps afterward. Is it worth the risk? You are elated that you pushed through your fear to say hello and now have a new friend — perhaps even a romance. Yes, it was absolutely worth the risk.

Let us try another scenario: You are asked to make a presentation in your area of expertise. It is a subject many find interesting and your talk could be helpful to a number of people. But saying “yes” sticks in your throat and everything in you says, “I cannot do it.” What is the fear about? Looking stupid? Having people disagree with you? Is it real or imaginary? It’s indeed imaginary.

What’s the worst that can happen? You might mess up and feel foolish and embarrassed. Your knees may shake, and you may stumble through the presentation. But you will get through it, even if you are not invited back. What is the best that can happen? Because you know your subject well, you are able to breeze through your presentation and answer the questions that follow. You find that you actually enjoyed it. It makes you feel fantastic to have done it, and a number of people wait afterward to tell you how much it helped them. Was it worth the risk? Absolutely.

You get the idea. So realize that a fear is holding you back and push through it anyway. Start with small, less intimidating challenges. When you succeed, move on to the next thing you want to accomplish. You may have to learn new skills. So, go learn them. You do not have to do it all at once. Take it easy — one step at a time.

Feel the fear and do it anyway. The payoff? You accomplished something you wanted to do or obtained something you wanted and ended up feeling really good about yourself. Your self-esteem was ratcheted up several notches.

No, it is not easy, but it certainly is worth the risk.


Irene Conlan has a master’s degree in nursing, is a certified hypnotherapist and a certified past-life regression therapist at The PowerZone in Scottsdale, Ariz. www.theselfimprovementblog.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 5, Oct/Nov 2009.

, , , , , ,
Web Analytics