This is pretty common, right? You have an impetus or drive to dive into something new.
Maybe you’ve taken on a new role. Or you’re learning a new skill.
But you’re scared…
- Of messing up
- Being made to look foolish
- Getting rejected
- Not doing as well as others
- Being uncomfortable
- Getting in over your head
- Losing credibility
- Losing something else you value (eg time)
I’m sure you can add to that list. It’s absolutely normal to get caught up in these feelings that arise.
Here’s something I teach my clients that can help.
Fear is a helpful emotion but an unreliable predictor of future outcome.
Its origins are in the most primitive part of our brains and it’s brilliantly designed to help us fight /fly / freeze in the face of physical danger.
That’s super handy if you are in the face of potential harm.
But in most situations where fear arises, there is no threat of physical harm.
In fact, the worst that is happening, is that we’re experiencing fearful thoughts, that our imaginations are conjuring up beautifully, about a made-up outcome.
Put it this way.
There are times when you fear something, but it doesn’t come to pass. Fear is not predicting an outcome here.
There are times when you don’t fear something, but it does come to pass. Thanks fear - you struck out there on your foretelling genius.
Equally there are some rare occasions where fear is correctly predicting an outcome. That may be based in past experience but equally it could be coincidence. It’s not truly predicting anything. It’s reminding you of something that happened before. That’s one of the jobs of fear.
There’s a fourth scenario too, but we never sweat that. It’s the ‘I’m not fearing anything and nothing bad happens’ one. In other words, life is good, I’m relaxed, all is well…
When you begin to see how unreliable fear is at predicting the future, and even more importantly, that it’s only telling you about your state of mind right now, you create options.
Options to take action. Or to pause. Or to take a first step. Whatever occurs to you from a place of deeper clarity.
You take yourself out of the dance with fear. You notice it, tip your hat to it, and move on.
It doesn't have to stop you in your tracks.
As an experiment in the next week, take a look at when you feel fearful (or anxious) and it stops you in your tracks.
Check in with yourself. Are you getting seduced by taking fear’s apparent capacity to predict the outcome? Do you need to stop? Or can you move on?