How to face your fears all comes down to reframing in the mind. Use these three proven techniques to move through your dread. You CAN overcome!
When I started my web design business 10 years ago, I was living in New York City. As a self-proclaimed introvert, I had just a handful of close friends, and I KNEW I’d need to expand my network if I wanted to get my new business off the ground. I went on Meetup and found oodles of networking events that I could attend.
The problem was, I was absolutely terrified to go.
In a city of 8 million people, I most certainly would not know a single soul. I envisioned myself walking in awkwardly, having a painful flashback to my first day of middle school walking into the cafeteria at lunch, eyes desperately scanning the room for any face of familiarity.
Anyone who’s experienced something akin to the above knows that these fears are VERY REAL – gripping even.
But here’s the kicker: in many cases, those fears prevent us from doing things that we could very well ENJOY in the end.
How to face your fears is all about reframing things in your mind.
Is there something you think you might *want* or *need* to do in your personal or professional life, but you’re feeling terrified to do it? Just as I was eventually able to conquer my fear of attending events alone (spoiler alert: my happy ending is at the end of this post), you can conquer your fear too. Below are three of my favorite ways of moving from “I just can’t” to “I did it.”
Ask Yourself: “What could be gained?”
When we’re terrified, we tend to focus on all the what-ifs. What if I don’t know anyone? What if I feel uncomfortable? What if I sound stupid? What if I make a fool of myself? And so on.
One way to turn your fear on its head is to explore the opposite end of these what-ifs. What great things might happen if you face your fear? New opportunities? New relationships? A change in your circumstances? Chances are, a lot of great things could (and will) happen – most of all you feeling empowered and ready to conquer your NEXT fear.
Look at the hard evidence.
Sometimes when I’m feeling fearful (or just worried or upset for that matter), I like to put on my “scientist” hat and see if I can look at things completely objectively for a change. How many people before me have failed at what I’m afraid of? How many have succeeded? What are the mathematical chances that I’ll come away having had a miserable time versus an ok one? “Surveying the evidence” in this way can help pull us up out of our emotional weeds, and shed some light on what’s real and what’s most likely to actually happen in reality.
Set up 10 small steps
For me, heading out to a 200-person networking event in NYC was simply not a realistic first step. It would have felt a bit like jumping off a cliff. So what did I do instead? I created for myself a 10-step plan to getting there. Step 1: Bring a friend to an event with me, and set the goal of meeting one new person. Step 2: Attend an event alone, but a small one – ten people or less. And so on.
Breaking up your big hairy audacious goal into ten baby steps will comfort you, make your goal seem more feasible, and give you a plan to jump into action.
A Happy Ending
Ok, so ready for that happy ending? Fast forward 11 years later, and I’ve attended so many events on my own that I’ve honestly lost count. Sure, sometimes I feel a little awkward when I walk into an event and realize I don’t know anyone, but that feeling only lasts as long as it takes me to walk up to someone, smile, and say “Hi, I’m Janelle.”
Looking for more?
The next time you’re wondering how to face your fears, remember the above three tips: ask yourself what you could gain, look at your hard evidence, and break it up into small, easy steps.
If you enjoyed this post from Janelle (hey that’s me!) at Ellanyze, check out these other quick-reads on personal growth and self-improvement: