WITI PERSONAL GROWTH
Why It's Important to Examine Your Fears
Any time you know what you want to accomplish, and even know the steps you want to take to reach your goal(s), but just can’t seem to make any progress it is highly likely that FEAR is a major factor keeping you stuck. And as counter-intuitive as it may seem one of the best ways to abolish your fear in any situation is not to ignore it, or deny it, or to try to “push on through it,” but rather to examine it more closely.
Why Does It Help To Examine Your Fear?
Fear retains its power over you for two inter-related reasons:
We often shy away from examining our fears because we are afraid that our probing will only intensify the fear or make it more real. In fact, quite the opposite is true. In many cases if you take the time to examine your fears and deconstruct them into their legitimate underlying concerns you can deal with them logically and unemotionally and begin to take action. There is a good reason for this. Once the underlying basis of your fear is clearly defined (for example, you are facing a car that is about to run you over) it can serve as a motivator to action (e.g., to move out of the way!). But when you allow the nature of your fear to remain only vaguely formulated in your mind your fear will tend to immobilize you.
Why Examining Your Fear Helps You Eliminate It
When you are willing to look closely at your fear and engage your mind in the process of identifying your legitimate underlying concerns you flip a switch from operating in “emotional reaction mode” to operating in “logical thinking mode.” Then you can leverage your new logical perspective to find solutions and initiate action. So, the first step in moving past fear is to closely examine and logically dissect your fear and the second is to leverage your logical perspective to straightforwardly address the legitimate concerns you have identified.
How to Logically Dissect Your Fear
The secret to dissecting a fear is to ask yourself, “What am I really afraid of? What are my true underlying concerns?”
Here is a hypothetical example to show you how the process works.
Suppose you have an important telephone call to make to find out the status of a proposal you submitted to a customer. Despite knowing in your heart that you need to make that call you simply cannot convince yourself to pick up the phone.
Now suppose I ask you what is getting in your way and preventing you from doing what you know you need to do (and actually want to be able to do) and your immediate response is a single word, “Fear!”
Instead of allowing you to wallow in the flood of emotion that the word fear unleashes in your body, I then challenge you to look deeper and get more specific. Here are some possible legitimate underlying concerns you might surface:
How to Leverage Your Logical Perspective to Address and Resolve Your Concerns
Here are just two examples of logic-based perspectives you can leverage once you switch into logical-thinking mode:
When you are in logical thinking mode it suddenly makes perfect sense that it would be better to learn the ‘ultimate outcome’ in your situation sooner rather than later. Thus, for example, in our hypothetical situation you would likely realize the following: regardless of the outcome (whether you find out that your customer likes or does not like your proposal or you find out that the job is still available or canceled) there is no advantage to putting off hearing the answer. If the outcome is positive you get to celebrate and move forward. But even if, and especially if, the outcome is “negative” you nevertheless gain the information necessary to formulate your next move.
2. The “focus on what you can control” perspective
In most fear-inducing situations, even after you come to understand the specifics of your underlying concerns, the reality is there are likely to be elements of the situation you can control and some you can’t. To be able to move towards a positive outcome you need to employ your logic brain to hone in on where your actions can make a difference.
When you adopt the “focus on what you can control” perspective you ask yourself the following question: “Where in this situation do I have more control and where do I have less or none at all?” In the context of our hypothetical example you might decide that you have no control over whether the job had already been given to someone else or whether it had been canceled due to lack of funding. But you might also decide that you still have some power to positively influence your chances for future work by taking steps to expand your relationship with the customer.
When you logically identify areas where you can have an impact, you clear the way to move forward and take action and leave your emotional fear-based reactions in the dust.
The Bottom Line
Nebulous unexamined fears remain free floating and paralyzing. So next time you feel fear – instead of just trying to push on through the emotional reaction or run the other way – engage your logical mind to examine the fear and break it down to its specifics. By dissecting your fears to uncover their basis in real underlying concerns you switch your brain into logical thinking mode and free yourself to adopt logic-based perspectives that allow you to take action and build momentum. In this way you break the endless cycle of fear and inaction.