The biggest obstacle to moving forward, making desired changes, to meet goals is often found within us. It has a name; it’s name is FEAR.
Psychology Today describes fear as a response to a perceived threat. The key word in their definition is “perceived.” We are creative creatures with big imaginations. Our imagination can be very useful, leading to new innovations. It can also take us down a frightening path of dark unknowns, not actually based in reality or fact.
I am reminded of a song by Zach Williams titled “Fear Is A Liar”
The lyrics start
When he told you you’re not good enough
When he told you you’re not right
When he told you you’re not strong enough
To put up a good fight
When he told you you’re not worthy
When he told you you’re not loved
When he told you you’re not beautiful
That you’ll never be enough
He then starts into the chorus. And it is here I turn the volume up loud
Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar
When I join in I put all the emotion and energy I can into the phrase FEAR IS A LIAR
I believe it is a powerful song. It is on the Christian song charts, but honestly, even if you are not a Christ follower, these words can be a source of strength and courage.
Fear often begins with the unknown. We don’t know what will happen. We are uncertain about what to do. Our imagination takes over. We focus on the dark “what-ifs” of life. When interviewed by Psychology Today, Judith Lief, a Buddhist teacher of Tibetan meditation, said “fear restricts our lives, can imprison us, or be used as a tool of oppression.” You can live with the lies of fear or trade in that fear for a step forward.
You can look at fear as “Forget Everything And Run” or “Face Everything And Rise”. How about “Feeling Excited And Ready”
Okay, okay, okay. These are fun sayings, but how do you overcome fear and gain the confidence to move forward, even if you are fearful? Here are 3 things I do when faced with fear and uncertainty.
Imagine the worst-case scenario. Yes, you should spend time imagining everything turning out well, but it actually helps to imagine the worst case as well. For example, if you are afraid of speaking in front of large crowds, you may avoid a chance to advance in your career by giving a presentation in front of your coworkers. You know the presentation would help you advance, but your fear is telling you that you shouldn’t try it because something bad could happen.
Face the fear. Write down all the outcomes that are driving your fear. Are you afraid you’ll say something silly during the presentation? Are you scared that people will laugh at you?
When you finish your list, review each specific fear. Now, consider how likely it is that any of those things would actually happen. More often than not, you’ll realize that most (if not all) of your fears are probably quite unlikely! Even if something did happen – like people laughing – would it be the end of your career? How could you step into that moment and shine?
By imagining the worst case, you give your fears a face. They are no longer unknown and they may not be quite as scary.
Talk to successful people. Ask them about times that they’ve failed or times that they’ve felt fear. Listen to their stories of how they overcame. Learn about their struggles and fears. Yes, they had fears just like you. How did they face them? Since the biggest fear is often failure, how did they handle it? What kept them moving forward? How did they find the strength to continue? Knowing that you’re not alone can be quite helpful.
Take bold action. You determined your worst-case scenario. You also developed a way to handle it. You have a plan. Speak out loud and clear FEAR YOU ARE A LIAR! Now get moving.
Don’t let the fear of failure hold you hostage.