What can you do when you have a dream and you are afraid of completing one of the steps necessary to achieve it? Here are some options:
1. Fill your head with your dream.
Your short-term memory can only hold a limited number of things. So fill your head with what you are hoping to achieve. Write down your dream, or create a vision board. Whenever you are about to do something that makes you nervous, spend a few minutes looking at your board, or recalling your dream, really focusing on the meaning of each idea, and how you will feel if you accomplish it.
2. Acknowledge your fear and invite it to take a seat at the table.
Instead of trying to repress your fear, listen to it. What is it trying to tell you? Maybe there is a nugget of advice that is worth listening to, maybe not. Reassure your fear, “I know you’re afraid and worried that I’ll fail, but I’ll be okay.” This idea of personifying your emotions is wonderfully depicted in this Pixar movie, “Inside Out“. You can also watch this wonderful video on Youtube by Oprah Winfrey about fear of failure, which is one of the major fears of would-be entrepreneurs.
3. Find someone to do it with you.
There is a feeling of security and empowerment in numbers. You can ask someone to stand by your side as you take the step you are afraid of, or you can join a virtual or real-life group where others take steps they fear and report back on their feelings and results.
For example, there’s a social anxiety group for young adults where one of the tasks is that every person must attend a “Meet Up” alone and practice talking to someone else there. This would be daunting for a young adult without social anxiety! And yet every young adult in the group managed to do this with the moral support of the group.
Fear creates a physical response in the body. Maybe you feel your heart pound, maybe the blood rushes in your ear, maybe you feel knots in your stomach. Whatever it is you are feeling, go back to the one thing you can control at any time, any where — your breath. Take as deep a breath as you can, hold it while you count slowly to 5, and slowly release it. Do this a few times. By distracting your mind and body from the feelings and the sensations that fear is creating, you allow your body to calm down. You can read more about the research on breathing at NPR here.
Do you have any favorite strategies? Share them in the comments below.