When most of us think of fear, fight or flight comes to mind, as does fear paralysis. Either run from what is causing the fear, freeze up and panic or face it head on. Fear is an interesting emotion.
As humans, it is a biological necessity to help keep us alive. Our world continues to evolve from a primitive state to a modern civilization, fear is both a tool and a hindrance.
Like anything, too much of one thing is bad for us. If you are afraid to cross a busy street because of speeding cars, that would be healthy fear but if you are afraid to speak in front of a group of your peers, that would be unhealthy.
Fear is programmed into our nervous system and it is connected to the hippocampus in our brain where we store our memories. The reason for this is so we can be reminded to be afraid when we encounter similar threats, or perceived threats.
This is extremely useful when true threats to our safety exist. But the world we live in has evolved and now with access to 24/7 global information, our perceptions have changed.
There are so many ways to be afraid and if you allow your perception to be hijacked by events you have not experienced; fear can be paralyzing.
What if you begin to look at fear differently? Instead of telling yourself to not be afraid, what if you use fear as fuel.
Here are six steps as we unpack this.
- Identify whether the fear we are experiencing is a real threat or something we have conjured in our mind with no real threat at all.
- Quickly analyze why you have this fear. Are you suddenly scared of flying because you watched a plane crash on the news in another country? Perhaps you pull money out of the market because you read an article that says the market is going to crash 50% in the next quarter. Although these events happened or could happen, be aware of mind manipulation. There are talented people working specifically to make these fears real for you.
- Now that you understand where your fear stems from, you can work on using it to your advantage. Sitting on the sidelines in life isn’t your style. If you find yourself fearful of something you haven’t experienced, it’s time to use fear as fuel. Look at the perceived threat and break down step by step how your ideal outcome looks and feels. Tell yourself, for the next 30 minutes, I am going to push my fear aside (don’t worry, it will be there later if you need it) and imagine how to take advantage of this event or situation in front of me.
- Don’t consume additional news until you have pushed through your current fear. Keep in mind, you are establishing a new habit and routine and this muscle will need some time to develop. Piling on new fears isn’t going to serve you.
- It’s time to look at everything in your life that scares you as an opportunity. You are truly using fear as fuel to climb to new heights. Write down things that scare you. Commit to breaking down step by step your plan for pushing through. Some problems might be easier than others. For instance, fear of asking for a raise might be easier than the fear of having an emotional conversation with a friend or family member. Rest assured, there is an equation to each fear you possess.
- Help others push through their fears, when we teach, we learn. Given you now can feel your fear and identify the validity and you have a system on how to use fear as fuel, you can help friends identify what’s holding them back.
When I initially began my career in the Staffing/Recruiting Industry, I was absolutely fearful of interviewing other business professionals. Whether they had Administrative, Legal or Accounting and Finance experience, I felt a bit out of my league. I used the tools above to recognize my fear and create an end-goal. Once I realized what I wanted to accomplish, I used my fear as fuel.
The great news is you are not alone, we are all biologically programmed to experience fear. Many of us don’t realize how present fear is in each moment of frustration or hesitation. You have the power to identify and manipulate your emotions. When you realize this, you discover your true power from within.
About the Author
Shaun Enders is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Transition Staffing Group located in San Diego. Shaun is extremely passionate about recruiting and developing others to bring out the best version of themselves.