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A 3-Step Process to Overcome Fear

A 3-Step Process to Overcome Fear

Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present – and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future. ~Audrey Hepburn

Growing up, my culture made me feel that a little worrying was a good thing and that if you are never worried about things, you’re exhibiting a careless and casual attitude.

What I missed in the above theory is the word “little.” As a result, I worried a lot. Was I going to do well in my exams? Do my friends think I am cool to hang out with? Will I get my dream job? Will I be able to achieve my dream income in my business?

Those fears, needless to say, kept me from fully realizing my success in different areas of life.

In my work, I’ve found the fear of failure, fear of the unknown and the fear of not belonging as the three universal fears. I see people every day and at least one of them is stuck due to these three fears.

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If you dig deeper, you’ll realize that the fear of not being loved or the fear of not belonging is the root cause of all superficial fears. Let me explain.

The fear of the unknown is actually the fear of failure in itself. Think about it, what happens when you step into the unknown? You fear that you’ll fail.

For most people, failure is a permanent, impossible-to-turnaround phenomenon. Even a toddler knows that’s not true. Notice how they fall down and keep attempting to walk anyway? Imagine if, as a child, you considered failure permanent—you’d still be unable to walk!

And deep down, you fearing not being loved if you fail. Think about it. You’re afraid that your loved ones will abandon you, that you’ll be rejected and that people who love you will stop doing so.

No matter how much you try, fear will always be there. It is a natural part of being human. Of course, a lot of fears that things may not work out are just baseless. Yet, they can pretty much stall you.

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A Three-Step Process to Overcome Fear

This three-step process is what I learned first hand from fellow-entrepreneurs around me. Feel free to use it to beat your everyday fears and when you fear that things may not work out.

Apply the three steps to a situation in your life when you’re afraid:

Step 1. Write Your Fear Down

As simple as it sounds, writing down your worst fear in this situation will let you externalize it. A lot of times, we worry because we’re so entangled in the problem.

Have you noticed how getting an outside-perspective helps? This is why so many people go for coaching too. Getting someone else’s help allows you to see different perspectives.

By writing your fear down, you’re also fully acknowledging that it exists. This leads to awareness, which is the first step and 95 percent of your journey.

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Step 2. Ask: What’s the Worse that Could Happen?

Now that you’ve documented your fear, you realize it lies outside you, and you have a better grip on it. The next step is to get deeper. Be honest and paint the worst-case scenario. What is the absolute worst outcome that could happen from this situation?

I recall when I was about to speak in front of a audience for the first time. I was nervous and literally hoping that somehow the event would be canceled. I wrote down my fear—”I’ll stuff up”—and asked myself, “OK if I did stuff up completely, in a way I am not able to speak a word at the workshop due to nervousness, what would happen then?”

Soon, I caught how unrealistic this scenario was. Surely, I would babble, mumble, mix up examples, appear unconfident, but wouldn’t completely go quiet, right? So I changed the outcome to a more realistic: “I will appear unconfident.”

There it was. My realistic, worst-case scenario: I would fail to impress my audience by appearing not confident.

Step 3. Ask: Can I Handle It?

This is the last leg of the exercise. Once you acknowledge the worst, you ask yourself if you can handle it. Human beings are incredibly powerful at handling stuff.

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Think about all the people in this world who have handled death, bankruptcy, loss, and separation. Perhaps they never realized they could handle it until the time came. In despair, we find strength from an unknown source within. We’re wired beautifully that way.

For me, I could lose those potential clients at the workshop. So what? I could always take feedback and start over. When I looked at it squarely, it wasn’t that bad. I could handle it.

Answering the last question gave me strength to move ahead. When you get real with yourself, you’ll know that you can handle this OK and soon there will be a time when you’ll wonder what were you so afraid of. I promise.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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