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How To Stop Worrying And Use Your Own Fear To Your Advantage

How To Stop Worrying And Use Your Own Fear To Your Advantage

Fear can be crippling. The fear of failure, rejection, or simply the unknown can render us paralyzed. Imprisoned in our own minds, we may end up boxing ourselves into a corner, feeling unfulfilled and frustrated. On the other hand, fear serves a purpose. From a survival standpoint, fear keeps us from doing things that might be harmful such as walking off the top of a 16-story building. Thanks, fear of heights. Fear can also be a great motivator: if we direct our energy in the right way, the fear of not achieving goals or falling short of a vision, can get us moving.

Here are a few truths about fear to help you utilize it, rather than let it control you.

1. Realize that most of your fears are irrational

Our minds sometimes ramble and project. We have a huge capacity for speculation, imagination, and wonder. This can be an asset as creativity is the wellspring of innovation. It can also get in the way when the things we imagine provoke fear. We can imagine the worst scenarios. The “what if” element can befuddle us into non-action.

Some minds tend to linger in the murkier side of “what if” more than others. At a certain point you simply have to realize that the things you’re obsessing over are pretty far-fetched, and let it go. Instead of succumbing to this dread in your mind, simply analyzing the things you’ve been afraid of in the past, which never materialized, can help you overcome your current fears. Once fear is recognized as unreal, the impediment is removed and you’re propelled forward.

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2. Understand that even your rational fears will probably never happen

Even if our fears are based in reality and qualify as somewhat rational, a lot of life is a battle in the mind more than anything else. Most of even the legitimate scenarios we dream up will never come to fruition. In fact, not even close.

For those of us who manage to psyche ourselves out with the possibilities in our future, let’s keep in mind that they’re just that: possibilities. Most embarrassment, disgrace, horrible modes of disease and death you ponder will not happen to you. Tragedies in life are usually unforeseen and unavoidable. So stop ruining your life worrying about it!

Coming to terms with this will not only help you relax in general, but it might even help you to take new chances. Without the feeling of impending doom, you’re free to experience life in a more vibrant way.

3. Accept that sometimes you will realize a genuine fear, but you’ll get through it

Bad things happen, even to the best, the most cautious, and the healthiest of us. But even when we realize a fear in one form or another, it’s more than likely not as bad as we thought. So you completely bombed on an interview, the guy you were seeing was still seeing his ex-girlfriend, or you’re a terrible executive assistant. Even though these things can be painful in the moment, anything short of death itself is literally not the end of the world.

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You’ll manage. You’ll get through. And in the long run, these nightmares-come-true really do lose their sting. Most of the time it’s never as bad as you feared, and when it is, it usually isn’t later on. You’ll surprise yourself with your veracity, even in the face of truly awful things.

4. Be aware that realizing fears can help refine you

It’s also these somewhat painful experiences that help us define what we don’t want. Maybe the energy of the office you were interviewing for doesn’t suit you; that weepy, artistic guy wasn’t all you envisioned him to be; or being someone’s own personal servant isn’t in the stars for you. There are worse things.

Take these experiences as a means of reflecting and saying “This didn’t work. That didn’t fit. So what else is there?” We are built to adapt. Embrace this strength, which is your innate gift from nature, and you will overcome even your worst fears.

5. Know that you’ll do fine at the things you’re putting off because you’re afraid

Sometimes there’s a learning curve. Don’t let it freak you out. In fact, if you’re afraid because you’re challenged or trying something new, that’s great! Discomfort is a side effect of growth.

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The truth is, the things you’ve already learned in life build upon themselves, feeding into new tasks as you develop them. And you have a great capacity to absorb new information. There’s very little you can’t learn, and honestly you’re probably already fine at it. The only regret you’ll have is not having started sooner.  A little stress, a little discomfort — it’ll all pass. But making up for lost time? That’s pretty tough. Just do it. You’ll be fine.

6. Try harnessing your fear of not being “good enough” and use it to drive you to try harder

The hardest part of anything you put your time and energy into is the first action. Once you’re a mile into a daily walk, you’ve got a pace going and you’re not even thinking about how hard it was to get started, you’re just getting it done.

From improving physical health or physique to mastering a new computer program, the prospect of attempting something new can be daunting. The doubt in the back of your mind that you’ll succeed or negative self talk can keep you from ever trying. But the truth is, a failed attempt will not haunt you the way a lack of trying will.

When you start to doubt yourself, collect that fear and mentally fuel your desire to meet goals. Rather than succumb to feeling that anxiety spreading across your chest, consciously realize that once you get started, the best of your problem will soon be whittled away into something manageable. Don’t be okay with failure or complacency — use fear of those things to conquer them.

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7. Use fear that someone else is living your dream to focus on your goals

Jealousy and envy; we’ve been taught that these are detrimental dispositions, and to some extent they are. Any time you’re burning up energy occupied with someone else’s life instead of you own, you’re wasting time. Unless you can use those feelings as fuel for focus.

Do you see people living the life you want? Jealous? Don’t be! Realize that they’re as human as you, with their own sets of pitfalls, insecurities and imperfections. If you want certain things in your own life, rather than ooze with jealously, ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” If the answer is, “I want to travel, be in a happy relationship, or start my own business.” you realize the root of your feeling and can turn your attention to questions like, “What steps can I take to make these things a reality in my own life?”

Once you start spending your energy on your own goals, you’ll find you’re too busy to steam over other people’s accomplishments. And when you do find out about what your peers are up to, you’ll be happy for them since you won’t be hampered with your own guilt or feelings of short-coming.

8. Bear in mind that failures are inevitable, but nothing helps you learn so well as failing.

From time to time, you will fail. Failure is part of the process. Any successful person will tell you that, at one time or another, they failed.

These stories of failure are also consistently tied with astounding successes later. The failure offered some huge insight or corrected some faulty way of approaching a problem. There’s no teacher as impacting as the sting of failure, and no read on whether something works better than receiving a resounding “no” from the people in our lives, the market, or the universe.

9. Pat yourself on the back

Appreciate the strength it takes to work through your anxiety and congratulate yourself for that. And in the future, draw from that knowledge for more strength. Look back over the things you used to fear and how you overcame them. Analyze how you were wrong about certain things that used to paralyze you, and how you were right about the things you knew you were made to do. You’ll find new fears less intimidating and your accomplishments will steadily outweigh insecurities.

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Hannah Glenn

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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