My wife used to call me a “Fearless Idiot”.
This term of endearment referred to my willingness to do just about anything, usually without thinking to much about the possible risks. That all changed for me in 2007 when a quick decision to take a wave in California left me paralyzed from the neck down. Luckily I was able to recover, and let’s just say that the 10+ year recovery process instilled a healthy respect for the possible consequences of my decisions.
As a result I have had to learn to deal with fear and anxiety and not let these emotions take control of my life. Here are some secrets I have learned.
Fear is the emotion that warns us we may be harmed. Some fear is good for us if it is based in reality. For instance, fear of a hot stove will keep us from touching it. Anxiety is a type of fear, dealing more with worry about the future, rather than fearing something that is present.
If your fear is holding you back from living your life in a productive meaningful way it’s a problem. When it comes to fear and anxiety we do have a choice. We can live with it and the unwanted consequences or we can realize that we can address it and fix it so we can move forward.
The suggestions below helped me and my hope is they might help you better recognize and address your fears, whatever they might be, and enjoy the success and happiness you deserve.
Use Love, Service and Gratitude to Overcome Fear
In my life the most powerful tools I have to help me minimize fear and reclaim my life has been Love, Service and Gratitude.
After my accident the future looked very scary and I was forced to face my fears and new found anxieties or have them take hold and change everything about how I lived and worked.
I remember wanting to be able to run again when I could barely walk. learning to run was very awkward, embarrassing and even dangerous. Often I would trip and fall and look ridiculous. I would routinely come home with bloody jammed fingers because I could not catch myself properly. For me running was just the beginning. I wanted to learn to ski, to play racquetball, to resume my speaking career and yes even go back in the ocean.
I needed to find a way to help me shed my fears and start getting back out there. This is where I discovered the remedies. Love, Service and Gratitude.
Love. I always try to remember how much I loved the feeling I had when I was doing the activity. The pursuit of that feeling was and has been a powerful motivator to extend myself and be willing to fail.
Service. I always tried to remember that I am putting myself out there to help others and that gives me the courage and confidence to do what is needed.
Gratitude. I always try to remember how grateful I am for all that I have instead of thinking about my shortcomings or deficits. My personal journey has included serious trials however they have also given me an opportunity to be keenly aware of the challenges the people around me are facing and no matter how tough I have it, there has always been someone I know who has it worse. I am grateful for my life no matter what comes.
Here are a few more ideas…
Learn More About Your Fear
This first step is to face your fears. This can be difficult but it is absolutely necessary. When you turn toward your fear (rather than away from it), you notice things about your fear that you didn’t know before. This awareness helps you overcome it.
When I have had an opportunity to ask myself what I was afraid of I realized that my fear was not based on reality but on something that had not actually happened yet. In a lot of ways, I was guessing about the future based on very little real information. This helped me put things in perspective and replace fear with patience and wait until I knew the reality of the situation.
Transferring your fear patterns and symptoms into positive action steps can help you move on and take forward steps.
Use your Imagination in Positive Ways
Your imagination can be positive but it can also magnify your fears and make your situation seem much worse than it actually is.
How do you use your imagination in a positive way? Pick a calm moment when you are relaxed and not anxious. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a situation that normally causes fear. For instance, if you are afraid of calling a prospect that has told you they are not interested. Now picture yourself making the call and having an upbeat positive conversation where the prospect actually thanks you for the call.
The peace you experienced in your imagined scenario can actually help you get through the actual task more peacefully and armed with your new found calm you are positioned for a surprise success.
Use Your Brain in a Different Way than Usual
Your fear and anxiety arise out of a certain part of your brain, and they allow emotion to overcome rational thought.
When you feel your fearful symptoms coming forth, try to use a different part of your brain. Think about numbers, for instance. A nurse in the clinic might ask a patient to rate his pain on a scale of 1-10. Use this scale for your anxiety. How anxious are you when 1 is perfectly calm and 10 is your very worst symptom? Stop and analyze. Do you rate your fear at 7? Very good. You can work on lowering that to a 4 or a 3. Try using the next step to lower your fear rating.
Focus on Your Breathing
Breathing is more important than you think. Usually, anxiety begins with short breaths. The short breaths cause a number of negative reactions in your body which quickly become an anxiety attack. The key to overcoming those fast outbreaks of anxiety is to control your breathing.
Fortunately, deep breathing is not complicated. Once you have recognized that you are becoming fearful, stop and focus on your breathing. Take a breath in, and then slowly let it out. Make sure your exhale is longer than your inhale. This isn’t just some psychological trick; deep breathing forces your body to physically calm itself.
Practice these mindfulness tips during some of your less severe times of fear and anxiety. When you recognize your fear symptoms arising, sit down and think about what is happening to you. This is like making a mental journal entry. Observe the symptoms as they arise. Don’t do anything about it. Just sit and keep track of yourself as the moment continues. Being present raises your self-awareness, and it prevents you from doing the typical things you do when you experience fear. It helps get you out of a rut.
These ideas have helped me and I hoe they can help you overcome your fears and live a happier and more successful life.
If you want to chat feel free to reach out. Id be happy to listen.
I have been very fortunate to have worked in the senior living industry for more than 30 years. I have been privilege to work with and learn from some of the brightest and most successful leaders in our business.
Recently, I have had the unique opportunity to work side by side with some very talented sales teams on the front lines and with them, make the adjustments needed in order to be successful, even in the face of theCovid crisis.
If I can be of help to you or your team, please reach out. I would be happy to learn about your situation and share what I have learned.