© 2012 jen

Facing Fear

I’m thinking of a time when I knew I was going to have to speak in front of a large group of people and the fear that I felt from the moment I found out the news.

I was so honored to have been selected to speak at a conference last summer filled with strangers, friends and colleagues, but almost instantly I realized, I was really afraid to speak in front of such a large group.  There were about 250 people in attendance.  I spent nearly a month mentally preparing by going through a series of steps to shift my mind and behavior  for the speech.  The day of the event I was able to deliver my speech with the confidence I had hoped for.  My confidence was authentic and real. In that moment I realized I’d not only delivered a good speech, but I’d overcome a fear. The fear of public speaking doesn’t hold the same fearful place for me anymore.

We all have fears about one thing or another, public speaking is a very common one.  Other common fears that people have are; fear of failure, fear of not being accepted or more generally the fear of judgement by others. In some cases the fear is small and not as difficult to overcome, other times the fear is so great it becomes a phobia, or something that completely immobilizes us from getting where we want to go.

There are fears so great that it can be beneficial to seek therapeutic help.  If the fear isn’t quite to that level there are some things you can do to help you overcome your fear.

1. The first question to ask when you start to feel fearful is, “Is this true?” Is my fear accurate? Am I worrying needlessly? Have you heard the acronym for fear? F-false, E-evidence, A-appearing, R-real. If it’s not true, shift your mind to the truth of the matter. Journaling can be a great way to accomplish this. If it is true, go to the next question.

2.  Where is the fear coming from? Most of the time we have an old feeling behind the current fear.  Think about other fears or times when you were afraid. Are they connected?  If so, spending some time writing or talking with friends about how your fears are connected can be helpful in understanding the source of your fear and why it’s affecting you like it is.  With some fears it’s obvious where it is coming from others are not so obvious.

3. Ask yourself, if I weren’t afraid, how would I behave?  This is such an important question because for many people behaving the way you want to be can actually change how you feel.  In a way your feelings catch up to your actions.

4. If you’re not quite ready to act, try writing about what you’d like to be able to do.  Break it down into the smallest steps possible. When you’re ready do one of those steps and build your way through each step.

5. Remember that mistakes are part of learning.  Be patient with yourself and trust yourself to grow.  Remind yourself regularly and often of the courage it takes do something new.  The more you accept yourself where you are at the more you’ll find it easier to focus on overcoming your fear.

6. Surround yourself with people who believe in you.  Great people will see the great in you.  Talk to your friends about your feelings and it’s likely they will share their feelings with you. Talking about your fear is good for your emotional health and deepens friendships.

PS. Don’t forget to breathe before, during and after thinking about or acting on a fear.

“Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing” ~Eleanor Rosevelt

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  1. By Link Hype 1-27-12 on January 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    […] week Jen Neitzel wrote a fantastic piece that struck me to the core because it’s all about Facing Fear.  Let’s face it, we all have fears in lives and they’re holding us back from being our […]