What is the easiest way of facing your fear?
This happens to be a very popular subject in the world of Psychology, Psychotherapy, Life and Business Coaching. It’s different for all of us, but one thing we do have in common – from time to time, fear dominates our decisions! So all the effort we tried to put in our work and experiences, it doesn’t really matter because we will fail anyway, right?
Nah! Read through.
So it is only fair that we dedicate a little bit of time to what fear actually is. Yeah, we all know fear – scary – boo! But not in that way. Let’s dig deeper than that. Let’s actually find the base of where it all starts and why. Because only then can we actually have a chance of overcoming it.
Fear, one of our basic emotions including Happiness, Anger, Disgust, Sadness, and Surprise, is defined as our response to either physical or emotional situations that we perceive as dangerous.
So as we all know our brain is the master of all that we do and think, there must be a part of our brain that is in charge of fear. And yes, there is. The head of all emotional processing is the amygdala. This little part is in charge of making associations between random stimuli from our external world and reinforces them so that we can experience them later on. What does that mean exactly?
This means that our brain recognizes certain situations we have experienced or even similar situations and let’s our brain know how we actually feel about them.
Meaning: We see a bear, we get scared.
Next time we see a bear, we will automatically know that this is a dangerous situation and we won’t even want to stay close to it. It is the same with how we look at different stimuli in our lives. It is how we ¨learn to be scared¨. One good example of why I say fear can be learned would be the Little Albert Experiment, one of the most unethical experiments ever done.
In 1920, psychologists found evidence that fear can actually be learned. The experiment consisted of an emotionally stable nine-month-old baby – Albert, who was conditioned to be afraid of a little white rat. At the beginning of this experiment Albert had no problems in playing with this rat, but later on as he touched the little white rat, the experimenters, John Watson and his graduate student, Rosalie Rayner, hit on a steel bar with a hammer far away from the baby’s sight producing a very high and loud sound. This caused Albert to develop a certain feeling of distress every time the rat was put in front of him.
Continuing this, they introduced other objects in front of Albert. Soon Albert became so afraid that he transferred his fear to even other furry objects – rabbit, a coat, and even a Santa beard mask.
Today, this was considered to be one of the most unethical experiments in history and today would never pass the ethics committee.
So to recap, the stronger the emotions more our brain will produce the higher amount of chemicals and we will build much stronger connections of certain benign situations in the future. So next time we are in a highly stressful or in a scary situation, we will already know the outcome. Or at least we will think we do. Does that sound familiar?
It is how and why we give up because we think we will fail anyway.
If we are being honest, in today’s society, many of us have probably experienced this at one time or another. I know I have felt like this time and time again. No matter how much faith I have in my skills or competencies, there was always a time where I stopped to judge myself, sometimes even for no apparent reason. What did this mean? Why did I do it? Simply because feeling proud of myself wasn’t followed by such a strong emotion as when I doubted or feared the outcome.
Why does this happen?
Bottom line is we have to understand why we look at failure as something bad. Stay with me on this one. Failure isn’t there to say: you are done trying now. It is just how we get a little discourage and unmotivated to continue. But all failure means is, this wasn’t the way to do it.
Remember how many times even the greatest minds of all time tried to get something right! And no, they didn’t think of the solution or a new way to do something and boom, there it was.
They tried new ideas, experiments and tried again and again until they tempered with all the variables long enough to get to know how each system worked. So by failing they could say they actually found the solution they needed, because without failing they wouldn’t even get to the part of succeeding! Yes, they got some scars on the way, but so what, they gained experience.
So, let us all introspect on what actually scares us about failure?
And, it is okay to take a few minutes to be honest with yourself and think of an answer.
Do you have it?
Write it in the comment section under this text, be brave to share your why, and let’s see what we have in common! For myself, I fear that if I fail that means I’m not good enough.
To go even further back, you can develop a sense of failure even from your childhood, if you had unsupportive parents who always cut your wings, didn’t allow you to have any independence and even constricted you to doing only things they set out for you to do. Also, if you were constantly humiliated in class or by other people. All those things that happen in your developing years can have a part in the play of life.
Fear of Failure
Now that we see what fear is and where it actually begins and what failure means to us we can connect the two and talk about what fear of failure is to us and how do we perceive it.
- Low self-confidence and Anxiety
So let’s talk about all of this.
There is always something we want to achieve or get in our life. And I do mean always. We spend our time thinking about an idea or a wish or a dream. We invest time into going over what it will look like when we actually get it. We spend time, imagining how happy we will be when all that comes true and how people will see us and more. But how much time do we actually spend thinking HOW we will achieve all that. And I do mean step by step.
I for one used to say: ¨ I want this, I want that. ¨, and I even invested my time to lay out my plan to know the step by step what I have to do to fulfill my dream, but I never actually started doing any of that. I stopped at the planning part.
I imagined plans that weren’t realistic to achieve, I didn’t put a time stamp on them to know how much time I had to achieve them, I didn’t make smaller plans to measure my progress when I reached those. I just thought of a huge dramatic plan but never really had any meat under those bones, if you understand what I’m saying. This was self-sabotage.
Another form of self-sabotage is the well-known procrastination. As you may or may not have heard about Tim Urban who spoke on the TEDx conference about this topic, he explained how our brain consisted of a few parts: The procrastinating monkey who loves to have fun and postpone your work until another part of your brain tells it to stop and focus back on the work. This is the famously known Panic Monster who only wakes up when you get way too close to your deadline without doing any work. Now as Tim explained, this Panic Monster also wakes us up just in time to have very little time to finish our work. Because well, we loved to hang out with the Monkey too much, and try to sabotage our own work.
Sounds like a Spanish telenovela inside our brain doesn’t it?
Let’s move on!
- Low self-confidence and Anxiety
Now, this is where most people fall in deep. As we usually drag our insecurities like a traveling bad behind us wherever we go in life, you could say there is a lot of baggage. That baggage includes all our anxiety, all our doubts about ourselves and of course the target on our back which says, shoot I’m not even going to achieve it so why bother?!
1st: take the target off your back.
2nd: this is the perfect time to leave that baggage behind.
Your past experiences don’t speak about your future, so please, sir/ma’am, leave it at the door. You won’t be needing it anymore.
Your anxiety, on the other hand, is there be also as your fear, because of the amygdala. Tricky little thing isn’t it! Yeah, I know!
Well, your amygdala as I already told you is there to figure out the situation that you are in by telling you subconsciously about your past experiences. So if there was any situation similar to the one you are in right now, she will light up and say: ¨Watch outttttt!!!! This is where you failed last time! This is where you had the panic attack. This is scary!!!! ¨ That dramatic interpretation is actually your amygdala being in charge of fight or flight part of your brain.
That means that if your dominant part of your personality is to be tough, and extroverted and positive in life, you will face the situation head-on. If not, if you are an introverted person, shy, quiet, you will decide to fly away and disappear. There is nothing wrong with that, it is just who and how you are and all your brain is saying is that you don’t have enough means to deal with this situation. Well…this might be news but although our brain is in charge of everything, our way of thinking and deciding what is what is our own. So there is no need to listen to your brain always. Especially when it is trying to sabotage your success! Of course, this includes all those bad words and sentences you use to tell yourself.
¨You will never be good enough.¨, ¨You are so incompetent.¨, ¨Stupid! ¨, ¨I’m such an idiot! ¨, and more of course. The world is already trying to cut your wings, why are you doing it to yourself? Stop! You are better than that! But as we both know, it is way easier to yell at yourself and only see the flaws, especially if other people point them out often, than it is to congratulate ourselves when we actually do something right, even the smallest thing!
So c’mon, give yourself a break.
Now I know that among you amazing people there are those who only feel comfortable doing things they know they will do perfectly. I for one always say, if you are going to do something, do it your best. But sometimes, perfectionism leads to us forgetting what the point of it all was.
So we spend way too much time making those details amazing that we lose focus of why we started it. Now as you can see all of the things I wrote about is a form of self-sabotage. Because, if we are being honest, trying means actually just investing time in what we do and trying our best, not actually doing it perfectly.
Now the conclusion and what you waited for!
How to deal with Fear of Failure?
Fear is inevitable but what makes us afraid is something we can control. Understand that there will always be a time where you fail and it doesn’t mean you are stupid or incompetent, it just means you have to get up, dust yourself off and try again. Because as the Law of Attraction says, we usually give up just as we are about to reach success!
Facing your fear will not only change your way of thinking about stressful situations it will give you a boost of energy, motivation, and productivity you need to end the race with the sprint to the last 100m. So don’t be afraid of it, push through it!
Dedicate your time to plan what you want to achieve and don’t forget:
Make your plan realistic, measurable so you can know when you reached your success and put a time stamp on it so you don’t drag it until the year 2030. Planning will give you some security that you are walking down the street that will take you to the finish line.
By doing this, you can write down, all the potential bad outcomes, answer them on that piece of paper and in case they do happen, you will be prepared. Write down all the worst things that can happen and continue asking yourself what will be the worst thing if this happens.
Don’t forget to make a contingency plan in case this one doesn’t go as you planned. There is no shame in having Plan B. Plan B is there to help you jump over the hurdle on the road or even to decide that wasn’t the right road to achieve and reach the finish line.