Small Victories: Dealing with fear little by little
The biggest part of life coaching is helping people do things that they are afraid of. Whether it be starting over in a new career, relationship, chapter in life, or facing a fear that gets in the way of their fulfillment in their current life. I help my clients develop coping skills and courage to move forward toward their ideal life, despite their fears.
If you think about it, the biggest thing that stands between you and anything you want is fear. Whether it is fear of public speaking that keeps you from moving ahead in your career, fear of failure that keeps you from performing that song for the open mic, or fear of dying without having achieved your full potential that keeps you from flying, fear is the common denominator when people are stuck or stagnant.
Feeling afraid isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. After all, if we didn’t feel fear, we might eat those pretty red berries from the bush we’ve never seen before or forget to look both ways before crossing a busy street. Fear keeps us alive. Fear becomes a problem when it keeps us from doing things we want to do and that don’t pose an obvious threat to our health and wellbeing.
From a young age I had a fear of flying. I was terrified of the plane crashing. Nowadays, I fly several times per year and I’m not panicked and white knuckling it the way I once was. I owe my relatively fearless flying to all of the small steps I’ve taken to build courage into my life and the work I’ve done on the kind of thoughts that I take with me on the plane.
Read on to learn about two things that I did to overcome my fear and stretch my courage muscle. Hopefully they can help you, too.
Take small risks: Start by leaning into a small thing that scares you. I used to be very attached to wearing makeup. I felt that if I were to appear in public with a bare face that I would be ridiculed. To conquer this fear I started to go on errands on the weekends without makeup. At first, I felt like everyone was staring at me and judging. Of course, this wasn’t the case because people have their own lives and don’t care if I wear makeup or not! After a few weeks of this experiment, I felt much more comfortable and I upped the ante and started going to casual social events without makeup. This was a bigger risk. At times, I felt deeply uncomfortable but I also felt a thrill that I was flying in the face of my fear. In the present, I still wear makeup, but there are times when I will run out to the store without putting on a face, and I even posted a bare faced video! This might sound trivial to you, and maybe that’s the point. I didn’t go get my pilot’s license but my fear of flying got better because I had gotten used to feeling some fear and doing the fear inducing thing anyway.
Investigate Your Thoughts: After doing some digging in my thought pile, I realized that my fear of flying was actually the fear of dying without having experienced some things that were very important to me. I had competing desires to play it safe and take risks and I was stuck being on the sidelines in several areas of my life. Once I realized this, I started taking small steps toward things that were on my bucket list and adding in more meaningful activities in my daily life. I found that when I was feeling satisfied with the smaller risks I was taking in my daily life, I was less scared of things that felt bigger.
What can you do today to help yourself conquer your fear?