Everyone keeps saying we should learn how to overcome our fear. As a result, we start struggling to overcome it and we end up even more fearful and frustrated. Stop struggling to overcome your fear instead overcome with fear.
How do I mean? I mean you don’t have to keep falling in an endless pit of struggling with fear when you can actually befriend it and live happy and healthy. No one can overcome fear because fear is an emotion that will always be with us. Every human on earth has fear; we often fear failure, rejection, uncertainty, death, pain, work, future, change etc.
If you seek to overcome your fear, you will end up in an endless journey of frustration because when you think that you have succeeded in overcoming it, it will rise again. The truth is that you will only be able to overcome fear when you eventually die. However, you can overcome with fear when you start learning to befriend your fear. You need to understand that fear is not an enemy that you need to overcome all the time, but to overcome with it. I have prepared a worksheet for you. Make sure to download it after reading this article.
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Understanding fear: the true identity
As opposed to the popular belief, fear is not generally negative. Fear could actually be good for you. Yeah, it could work for you and it could also work against you. It all depends on your perspective and how you handle it. Therefore, you must understand fear so that you can always make it work for you.
Fear is just like a litmus paper (an indicator) to make you identify what’s very important to you. Have you ever been afraid of something that isn’t important to you or something you don’t care about? Of course not!
We only have fear for things and situations that worth it. Fear gives us insight into things that we consider important and makes us realize how important it is.
In other words, fear is a good time management indicator. When you are afraid of something, then you know that thing is important to your life or growth or success. And when you are not afraid of something, then don’t waste your time pursuing it, because it’s not that important. I have never been afraid of something I didn’t give importance to. Never!
Let’s consider this scenario
If I was invited to give a speech at my friend’s baby naming ceremony. I bet I would just go there, do my thing and get my ass out. But If I was invited to give a speech at the British royal family (Queen Elizabeth II) naming ceremony, I will become nervous and will be very careful about what to say at the ceremony.
I will be afraid of saying something stupid and meaningless. Why?
Even though both events are the same (naming ceremony), I’m not afraid of giving a speech at my friend’s baby ceremony because I think it is not an important avenue for me to build my career.
If at all I say something stupid (though I don’t plan on saying something stupid), well my friend will have to brush it off. But I am afraid of giving a speech at the royal family baby’s ceremony because I think that’s an opportunity for me to build my career as a motivational speaker.
At the royal family ceremony, there would be world rulers and important guests from all over the world and all eyes will be on me during the speech. If I give a good speech, my career will definitely experience a great turn-around but if I give a stupid speech, it could be the end of my career because clients might not want to associate with me anymore considering my awful performance.
So what will I do?
I start to put in more effort into my preparation for the speech at the royal family. I will ensure that I keep myself up to date with relevant information. Then write and re-write my speech until I feel like it’s perfect. I would keep asking myself if I had put in enough information. In other words, I will give my best into it because I am afraid of messing it up.
Do you get the gist now?
Fear is an indication for me to know how important the royal family ceremony is to my career. Now, it is left to me to either make the fear work for me or make it work against me. If I make it work for me, it will motivate me to give my best at the occasion. But if I make it work against me, it will cloud my judgment and will destroy my career.
Why you should befriend your fear
For you to make fear to work for you, then you must learn to befriend it.
When you befriend someone or something, you know a lot about that person or thing. You will know their character; understand their nature and how they work.
When you befriend your fear, it will tell you what it wants from you and will be your source of insight, showing you what you need to do to advance in life.
Consequence of not befriending your fear
If you don’t understand your fear and learn to befriend it so that you can put it to work for you, you will lose out.
I remembered the story of someone very close to me. He has this dream job he has been pursuing for so long. Eventually, he got an invite for an interview. This person is a very good computer programmer; I mean he’s excellent at what he does. During the interview session, he was asked to name different programming languages he uses and lo and behold, he couldn’t name any.
Unbelievable right? Yeah, he couldn’t name any programming language because he was so anxious and overwhelmed with fear of losing the opportunity. He didn’t even hear the question correctly, not to talk about answering it. He told me that funny enough when he got outside, that was when he re-processed the interview question in his head and realized what he was asked to do. That’s what happens when you let fear take over.
You know, the interviewers must have been really shocked. They would go about saying that a computer science graduate can’t name any programming languages. Whereas, that wasn’t the case at all. The person in question was just simply afraid of losing the opportunity. Of course, he lost that opportunity.
Though today, he gets I.T contracts from all over the world and now laughs at himself anytime he narrates the sad painful story.
You will eventually lose what you are afraid of losing.
Fear has stopped some of us from doing some things that would change our life for good. We have made it limit us from reaching our fullest potential. It has made some of us lose what we love and what’s important to us because we let it take control. We let fear to be in charge! it dictated our action, attitude and reaction.
If you refuse to befriend your fear, it will control you!
So having said all that, I want to guess that the big question on your mind now is: how can you befriend your fear? I’m about to reveal to you my secret. Oh, let me tell you the story.
One fateful day, I summoned the courage to talk to this gorgeous person who happens to sit next to me in every yoga and meditation class I take.
I asked the person out and she was shocked because that was the first time we ever talked to each other. We decided to get some fresh air and ride some bikes together. During the bike ride, I was competing with her but she kept on riding her bike without fear of losing to me. So, I kicked myself because I realized it was meant to be a date but my competitive nature took over. I turned to look at her and asked why she wasn’t competing at all even when she knew I was.
Conversation with my date
Me: You knew I was competing with you, so why didn’t you compete with me.
Her: I have no reason to… I just want to enjoy the date because I don’t usually have one.
Her: I think I look intimidating. People either try to avoid me or to compete with me.
Me: Like I’m competing with you, right?
Her: Yeah… But I feel lonely and I need a friend.
Me: I’m sorry for trying to compete with you. Can we be friends?
Her: Answered prayer! Yes, we are friends.
Me: Wait a sec… but why were you not afraid of losing to me.
Her: I’m not afraid because my name is fear. I’ve got nothing to fear (wink)
Two proven ways to befriend your fearTwo #proven ways to befriend your #fear Click To Tweet
OK, enough of stories, let’s get back to the main discussion. That was a side attraction. I will give you 2 proven ways to befriend your fear and this is built on reverse psychology. For you to befriend it, you must be ready to use reverse psychology.
1. Restructure your fear
This is very simple to do. All you have to do is just to restructure your fear.
Are you afraid of height? Instead of you telling yourself or people that you are afraid of height, just say height is afraid of you.
Are you afraid of failure? Instead of saying you are afraid of failure, just say failure is afraid of you. If you are afraid of rejection, just say rejection is afraid of you. If you are afraid of death, just say death is afraid of you.
You see, very simply. Whatever you are afraid of, restructure it and make it look like that thing you are afraid of is actually afraid of you. That’s it! You make fear work for you.
This is a mind trick that will always work for you if you master it.
Anytime I am afraid of anything, I always restructure my fear. I reposition it to point to that thing and not to me.
Of recent, I had a huge project I was working on and I was afraid that my client might reject it. Then, as usual, I told myself, “rejection is afraid of me” instead of “I’m afraid of rejection.” This helped redirect the compass of fear (focus) to ‘rejection’ and it helped to boost my morale to complete the project without fear and to give it my best. When I eventually submitted my project, it wasn’t rejected at all. What do you expect? Of course, rejection was afraid of me, so it can’t be rejected (smiles).
I have helped people to befriend their fear and make it work for them using this method (restructuring fear) so I know it works not only for me but for others as well. And it can work for you too.
A client of mine got an invite for an audition to showcase her talent.
She was told that her music was great and they would like for her to play live at the audition in front of the judges. She was extremely happy because she finally got the recognition she’s been seeking all her life.
However, there was a huddle for her to overcome. Her performance at the audition and the judges’ decision, will determine her success in the contest and advancement in her career. She told me she was afraid of the judges. All I told her was: “the judges are afraid of you.” She looked at me in a strange way. Well, she was expecting a full session of coaching and coaching and coaching. She couldn’t really understand. Well, I reinforced it, and told her over and over: “the judges are afraid you”
When she won the contest, she ran to me and said “Ayobami, your words kept ringing in my head. Anytime I’m afraid of the judges, anytime I look at them and I’m afraid of their expression and body languages, I kept hearing the word “the judges are afraid of you” and it helped to boost my confidence and I was able to give a great performance. Thank you so much”
Restructuring your fear will help to boost your morale, build your self-confidence and motivate you to achieve your goals without fear. You will be able to recruit your fear to work for you and then use it against the things you fear.
2. Love your fear
Biologically, there are two great emotions in life: FEAR and LOVE. However, LOVE is the strongest emotion in life. These two emotions are the most powerful emotions that can make or mar us in life.
Everyone experiences love and fear: nobody can ever outgrow fear, the same way we can never outgrow love. When you choose to love your fear, it will succumb to your love and will start to work for you.
How to love your fear
Anytime you are afraid, tell your fear that you love it. That’s it! very simple.
Always talk to your fear! Talk to it like you would talk to someone in reality. Fear is an emotion and could also understand the emotion of love. Yeah, tell it how much you love to have it around because you know fear isn’t your enemy. It exists to alert you of potential danger or threat.
All you need to do is just to change your perspective. When you tell yourself that you are not afraid of fear and that you love fear because it gives you a nudge and a push to move forward, you will realize that it will start to work for you. As I said, this has to do with your perception. Face your fear and tell it that you love it.
Everything I know, and what I have achieved today, is a product of my fear.
There are many things I initially thought I couldn’t do because I was afraid of doing them. Then when I learned that fear isn’t my enemy and that it will always be with me, I decided to use it for my good. I did those things I was initially afraid of even though I was afraid of failing and then I realize how simple it really was to do them.
Fear became my buddy and my great motivator.
Changing my perspective and the way I treat fear, helped me to take charge of my life. I have taken some job I initially knew nothing about and then I was afraid of not delivering.
The fear of failing was what motivated me to give my all to ensure that I get the solution and do the job well. It helped me to learn and to grow. When you make your fear to feel loved, it won’t work against you. The truth is that fear is lonely and also needs a friend too. And Love conquers fear.
I once worked for a construction company, as the secretary. The directors were running the company as they please without considering the staffs’ welfare at all. A lot of staffs has been overdue for promotion yet the directors denied them. And everyone was afraid of challenging the directors because of fear of being fired. We were having a general meeting and when we were about to close the meeting, one of the directors asked if any staff has anything to say.
Of course, everyone wanted to talk about the injustice but was too afraid to voice out. So there were lots of side talks. I indicated that I have something to say. Yeah, I talked about the injustice. I said it to the directors’ faces. Other staffs were shocked to see that a junior staff was challenging the directors.
I was afraid but I love my fear
After the meeting, the staffs came to hail me at my office. They were like “You are so bold. You challenged the directors without fear” I said “no…I was afraid…but I love my fear”
Within two weeks, everyone who was due for promotion was promoted and got an increment in salary. Did I get an increment too? No, I wasn’t even due for promotion yet, but I felt the need to stand up and fight for other’s right. The truth was that I was also afraid of getting fired because I didn’t even have any option B at hand, but I did what I had to do.
I did it! My fear couldn’t stop me from doing it because I LOVE MY FEAR.
My secret of being confident
When I hear people say to me “you are a very confident woman” or “you ooze confidence” or “you are very bold” I always laugh within me. If only they could see my mind, they would see that fear takes the larger part and boldness is begging for sponsorship.
Within me, my fear is like a crocodile and my boldness is like a lizard. Yeah, they are both reptiles but of course, you know there is no comparison.
However, though my fear is as big as a crocodile, just like a crocodile, it often observed basking on the banks of watercourses and is generally inactive because I have learned to love it. Whereas my boldness is as small as a lizard, but just like a lizard, when it moves into the sunlight, then it becomes hyperactive. So people see my hyperactive lizard (boldness) but aren’t aware of the inactive crocodile (fear) within. This is how I overcome with fear. Loving my fear is my secret of being confident. I get to do things while being afraid and it doesn’t stop me from doing it.
When you learn to befriend your fear, you will feel empowered by it.
Don’t be negative about your fear. It can stretch you beyond your comfort zone and help you to grow, it will teach you to be stronger and wiser. Therefore, always make your fear to work for you and the best way to make fear work for you is to befriend your fear.
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Copyright by Ayobami Abiodun