It seems that most of what ails the human race is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of change. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of missing out.
You’d think, if only we could conquer our fears, then imagine how new and improved humans could be.
We don’t want to be completely fearless – we aren’t superheroes. But we can be heroes.
When you talk to clinical psychologists about curing the fear of anything, they almost always speak about exposure therapy. You expose yourself in small, then larger doses, or the thing you are afraid of. For example, if you had a fear of spiders, you’d expose yourself to them – first short periods, then longer, then bigger, then let them crawl all over you, etc. You slowly deal with your fear by getting used to being around spiders.
I fear being struck by lightning, so I’d go outside during a thunderstorm. You might be afraid of public speaking or going to parties and talking to people.
The slow exposure to your fear doesn’t usually conquer it, though. It might take a very long time, and since you probably don’t do it often, you will likely continue to maintain your fear for life. Now, I’m no psychologist, but I’m going to suggest a possibly better way.
It’s still exposure therapy, but it works a lot faster. Instead of exposing yourself to your fear in slow doses, you do it FAST.
For example, if you fear public speaking, book a big event to speak at. If you fear the unknown, find an expensive restaurant you’ve never been to and book a table. If you fear looking stupid, dress up in something dumb and go to a party.
My point is you shouldn’t tie yourself into knots overthinking these things that scare you, or how to get over them. Instead of easing off the Band-Aid, rip it off!
It would help if you had a new mantra. I use this all the time. It works excellent for conquering both personal and well as professional fears.
“What’s the downside?”
The next time you are thinking about sending that email, talking to your boss, or presenting that presentation in front of a huge crowd.
Think about the world we live in today compared to our ancestors’ world in the savannah. The reason we shoulder so much fear is that we’ve barely evolved from those times. We see all sorts of things as false signals to fight or flee, thus stressing us out even more. You need to chill out and think of something less serious.
Instead of seeing yourself in the thick of the problem, envision yourself above the problem – watching the problem from the outside. Imagine watching a video of the situation – externalize the situation from yourself. Then, detach yourself from it – mentally float above it.
Disconnect yourself from the situation. Picture yourself in the future – after the situation is over. I’ll bet your life hasn’t changed at all.
Imagine what you will do AFTER. Picture it firmly in your mind. Put yourself in the future after you have confronted the fear. Imagine yourself laughing about it afterward. You are now thinking, that wasn’t so bad! I worked myself up over nothing.
Repeat. Keep confronting the big fears in big ways, and before you know it, the fear will be gone.