Michael was afraid. Actually, he was terrified!
A few years ago he had a thriving consulting business, so he assumed things would always be good. He was so busy working with his clients that he decided he no longer needed to actively market his services.
However, when the recession hit, his clients disappeared, and soon he was struggling to pay his bills. Because of this Michael was experiencing a paralyzing fear, and was having trouble thinking about what to do to move ahead. His fear had stopped him in his tracks. He knew there were several things he could do to start reaching his clients, but his fear had become so big that he was having trouble moving past it.
Michael is not alone. Fear is something we all experience when facing a new situation or feeling threatened in some way. It doesn’t matter if it’s a business fear like Michael’s, or a fear about something in your personal life, you can find it paralyzing. If you allow it to, fear has the power to control your thoughts and behavior, and interfere with your ability to be effective, successful, happy, and healthy.
Fear is actually a thought process that results from negative self-talk about the situation and your ability to cope. When confronted with a challenge, people often focus on the worst that can happen, which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we feel fear we often magnify our inadequacies, former failures, and inability to function or cope. It just builds from there.
Fear, and the resulting anxiety, can trigger physical symptoms and bodily responses. Common physical reactions to anxiety include shortness of breath, sweaty palms, inability to hear think or focus, increased heart rate, distractability, and depression.
The problem with fear is that it lurks in the back of your mind. Then, at unexpected times, when you are feeling vulnerable, it surfaces, grips your thoughts, and directs or dictates your behaviors. Michael was having a difficult time looking at his fear because it brought up painful emotions and reminded him that he is vulnerable and not always in control. Things he didn’t want to look at.
The good news about fear is that you can confront it, and once you do, it will no longer control you. Fear only has power over you when you run from it. The faster you run and the more effort you put into ignoring whatever is frightening you, the stronger and more powerful it will become. The goal is to turn down the intensity of the fear so you can begin to think clearly and see ways through it.
This often takes courage, self-awareness, strong self-esteem and creating a feeling of personal power. Michael decided he could do this.
Together we looked at several things Michael could do to overcome his fear:
· Look directly at and confront his fear. Be honest with himself about it all.
· Pay attention to what he was telling himself (his self-talk) that fed the fear.
· Be clear about what was so terrifying and what he thought would happen, and ask himself “how true is this?”
· Ask himself what is the worst that could happen? Could I physically survive this?
· Change the focus from the negative, what he can’t do and the fear, to the positive, what he wants, and what he CAN do to achieve his goals.
· Realize that when he changes the way he thinks and talks to himself, he will change the way he acts
· Focus on what he wants to happen and develop a clear picture of this.
· Get back into control by figuring out what he needs to do to move ahead.
· Break it down into steps and take action.
· Visualize himself moving ahead and seeing his end goal as accomplished.
Michael soon realized that what he had created with his imagination was much worse than the reality, and that even if the worst did happen and he lost his business, he is a smart, capable, competent person who will always be able to find ways to survive and rebuild.
Once Michael stopped running, changed his self-talk and faced his fear, it lost its power to intimidate and paralyze him. This allowed him to clear his head and begin to strategize ways to ramp up his marketing and move ahead.
He began to create an action plan that included updating his old marketing plan; rejoining networking groups to renew former connections; contacting civic organizations about speaking engagements, and visualizing where he wants to be six months from now.
With this strategy in place he once again felt powerful and in control of his destiny, and his business began to grow.
Although this article is about business, the same thing applies to all aspects in your life. What you tell yourself will create your reality! If you believe you CAN, then you CAN, and if you tell yourself you can’t, then your fear will control you and you will be stopped in your tracks.
So, what do you do when you’re afraid? Do you tell yourself this is the end of the world and you’re powerless to change it? Do you let the fear stop and paralyze you, or do you confront it, tell yourself you can do it, take back your power and move through it, and move ahead?
It’s something to think about.
Please comment so others can benefit from your wisdom and experience
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