Achieve a (nearly) fearless professional & personal life
When a child is afraid of the dark, a monster under his or her bed, a trip to the dentist or a thunderstorm, we quickly dismiss their fears as illogical.
Illogical fear, however, is not just child’s play. Whether we realize it or not, many of us run on fear, often in the form of worry.
Instead of recognizing it as illogical, we spend our days fretting over “impending” situations that usually never happen or sliding into a state of anxiety.
Why is it so hard to take a break from fear-rooted behaviors (anger, shame, anxiety, etc.)? Because it is a habit of fear, not a reaction to your immediate surroundings.
Only when we examine the psychology of fear as a habit, do we start to understand how it manifests in our thoughts.
Just skim through today’s news and you will see endless examples of the habit of fear run rampant: if that happens today this could happen tomorrow; if she says that, he might say this. We turn every present moment into the catalyst for infinite possible future outcomes – most of which we can find a reason to worry about, regardless of whether or not they will ever happen.
Fear is a part of life and it brings value as a tool, but not as a habit that automatically controls your thoughts and actions.
Kicking the Habit of Fear
There are a ton of books out there on how to kick your sugar or smoking habit – but what about ridding yourself of an equally poisonous culprit: pointless, ceaseless fear.
Fear lies at the root of most negative emotions: embarrassment, worry, anger, anxiety, loneliness, spite and sadness.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt famously stated, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he recognized the destructive force that it can bring when unchecked.
Let’s not make fear the bad guy. Fear has a purpose. The habit of fear does not.
Purposeful Fear vs. the Habit of Fear
Fear is the emotional state and response to “a real external threat or danger.”
Let’s pretend for a moment that you are taking a college course and you are about to hand in an essay. It’s due in 30 minutes but your printer will not work. You desperately try for 10 minutes to get it working. Then the what-if’s start: If you don’t get your essay printed, you won’t turn in the paper on time. You’ll fail the course and need to redo it, putting you behind a semester…so on and so forth. You’re descending into panic.
But then, miraculously, you fix the printer, turn in the essay and enjoy the rest of your day. So, what exactly was that? Fear? Was there a real, external threat? Nope. That was the counterproductive habit of fear and we experience different manifestations of it every day. Chances are that even if the printer had not started working, there would have been a friend or library on the way with a printer. Or, your teacher might have been understanding and let you run to a print shop. But no, these outcomes were too logical for the fear habit.
Next time you begin to feel that familiar sense of negative dread overwhelming you, ask yourself – am I being threatened right now? Try to figure out if this is genuine fear or habit.
The Fearless Present
Stress is the fear habit at work, since most stress comes from vague, often illogical sources, rather than an immediate threat.
In short, we are constantly worrying about things that probably will never happen and this is poisoning our bodies. In recent years, the negative effects of stress have been closely studied. It can lead to headaches, muscle pain, chest pain, fatigue, stomach problems, depression and anger.
If the goal is to thrive professionally and personally, then turning your fear habit around is key.
Think back to stressful times you had or moments when you were worried. Did things turn out as terribly as you feared they would? If you are okay today then chances are the answer is “no.” In fact, you’ll probably find that you cannot even pinpoint the cause of your stress.
Your Fast Track to Fearless
Try these tips and let positivity be your new driver.
- Next time you are worried or anxious, ask yourself, “Am I okay right now?” The present moment is always manageable. You can’t solve a scenario that probably will never happen. The future doesn’t exist yet. If you are okay in the present moment, then what you are feeling is the habit of fear. Just knowing this will help diminish it.
- Relax & breathe! We tend to tighten when anxious or afraid. Initially, you won’t be able to control those emotions, but you can control how you respond to them. Relax into them. Drop your shoulders, deepen your breath. This brings you into the moment where (remember?) everything is okay.
- Act from love instead. There is a misconception that you need stress or fear to excel. For a week, try to consciously go into stressful or aggressive work situations with a sense of love and positivity. It is amazing how people will behave differently when you are presenting them with a different energy.
- Don’t let the fear stay fuzzy. Define it! Write it down. What are you actually afraid of? What’s the worst possible lasting outcome? If you keep digging you’ll realize that the root fear is either not that bad and actually surmountable or completely ridiculous.
Without fear controlling your actions, professional opportunities will open up to you as you move into an optimistic, courageous place of yes. Others will see this shift in you and respond accordingly, being drawn to your positivity, balance and calm.
Shedding the habit of fear, or at least weakening it makes you no less assertive, bold or strong in your professional life. In fact, it will make you sharper and more effective since you will be able to dedicate your energy to the tasks at hand.
Your fearless life awaits! Enjoy it.
What are some examples of your fear habit? What helps you quiet that noise? Share with us by commenting below!
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Omozua is a Certified Emotional Mastery & Intelligent Leadership Executive Coach who empowers & prepares clients’ hearts & heads to take the journey from where they are to where they want to be by bravely accessing their own potential.