How to Turn Fears Into Strengths
It’s a scary thing to realize that you’re about to put yourself out there on a large scale, like landing your first gig, getting to guest post, or being featured on a podcast. You are going to be noticed even if it’s only one new person who likes you enough to subscribe to your email list.
That’s kind of the point of networking and making connections. Still, the thought can be terrifying.
What if I’m not ready?
What if I’m not good enough?
What if my website, subscription form, read-magnates, blog posts, etc. aren’t good enough?
What if no one likes me?
I still wonder myself. In fact, sometimes I’m glad that I still hide in obscurity because I don’t feel ready for the responsibility of my follower’s trust. It’s a frustrating catch-22 where we need people, but we’re afraid to actually go out and start connecting.
I’m sure this all sounds naive to the superstars who know fame isn’t instant and so quickly disappears in today’s attention span, but even those minutes of exposure can lead to lasting relationships. We can be terrified of success and want it at the same time. It’s perfectly normal in fact.
Here’s the thing about fear. Fear is a paralytic. Fear leads to self-sabotage. It’s the voice that holds us back and makes us acknowledge that things may go horribly wrong.
Fear can cost us dearly. Master Oogway on KungFu Panda said, “One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.” And he was right.
If we fear that a relationship will end, subconsciously we will sabotage the relationship so that it invariably does. Sadly, people do it all the time and lose out on happiness and companionship that could have come from said relationship.
It’s the same thing with success. If we fear it, we’ll avoid it.
I have a feeling that a lot of people out there struggling to make it like me aren’t successful, not because we’re not willing or determined, but because we’re afraid to succeed.
Here’s what we need to do:
Start with the Heart.
We need to ask ourselves what we really want, and we need to be really honest with ourselves. Then we need to ask ourselves what fears are holding us back and why they mean so much to us. What reoccurring thoughts do we have about success and how do they make us feel? What is our image of success?
Once we know what we really want, we can begin working to make it happen.
The thing we focus on becomes the mantra of our mind. Consciously or unconsciously our minds will hold onto and replay images, especially when we place emotional value on the outcome. So if we’re focused on our fear, we’ll innately make them come true.
We need to retrain our brains to digest the validity of the fears without inducing fear itself.
Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
Think of things, success, your fears, your thoughts, as they are, for better or worse, without emotions attached.
Easier said than done, but it can be done in a couple of different ways:
1. You can inoculate yourself against fear by continually doing the things that scare you, taking the leap gradually or all at once.
2. You can break down your fears into their base form and then study out why that thing scares you. Ask yourself, "What's the worst that could happen?" Tim Ferriss recommends this in his book "The 4 Hour Work Week." He says make it unbelievably bad and scary, because chances are the worst that could happen, won't.
Break things down into if/then statements to see the cause and effect. Sort through the empirical evidence to associate the things that don’t work with failure and the things that do work with success.
“If I want success, I must …”
That’s it. Make a list of the things you need to accomplish and fill in the blanks. Simply state your wants or goals and how you’re going to get there. Use this as your new mantra.
When thoughts pop into your head that question your goals like, “It’s too hard,” “I can’t do that,” or “I don’t have the time,” take a moment to study these thoughts. Why are they popping into your mind? What fears are driving them? When you can decipher their cause, you can redirect and overlay them with the better statements you’ve come up with.
To be clear, we don’t want to push those destructive thoughts away, because thoughts that we push away and bury tend to speak up louder, especially when there’s an underlying cause. Instead, we want to understand them and their cause fully so we can deal with them better.
Maintaining a healthy relationship with your fears will make it easier to overcome them.
Here’s the thing, our fears may not be that far off base. What if we do fail? Do we have a backup plan or exit strategy? Can we recoup losses? What if people don’t like our work? What if it all goes down in flames?
Fear lets you know when there’s risk. Knowing and understanding the risks, helps you strategize through uncertainty. Don’t fear Fear. Just understand where it comes from and be prepared to move past it. Fear isn’t a bad thing unless you let it control your life, and you have to have faith in yourself that you can overcome the obstacles set in your path.
You are enough to start where you are right now. It’s not hard to start filming yourself talking about what you’re passionate about, or to start a blog. It’s not hard to talk to your friends about your hopes and dreams. Start with your comfort zone, but know that you’ll need to leave it soon.
“Dreams come a size too big so we can grow into them.”
Instead of fearing the unknown, learn to embrace it as an opportunity.