Halloween is all about fear (only in a fun way). The fear of the dark. The fear of ghouls and monsters. The fear that your neighbor will run out of Reese's before you get there. Now that's scary!
Real fear, however, can be paralyzing. And when you’re talking about your dreams and goals, fear can hold you back and keep you from reaching your full potential.
We’re all afraid of something: public speaking, embarrassment, failure, etc. (For me it’s spiders—yikes!) Fear is just a natural part of being human. It’s what you do with that fear and whether or not you let it control you that matters.
I’ve always had a fear of failure—failing a test, failing to perform well in sports, failing to meet the expectations of others. Throughout my life there have been times I’ve let this fear keep me from doing something or from trying something new, simply because I didn’t want to fail. It didn’t matter how irrational this fear was; if there was a chance I could fail and disappoint someone, I just didn’t want to take that risk.
But over the years I’ve come to realize that failure isn’t the end of the world. In most instances, failure can be an opportunity for growth and learning. If you never try, simply because you’re afraid to fail, you’ll never know what you could’ve accomplished. And even if you do fail, you always learn something from the experience, and you can hold your head high knowing that at least you gave it a shot.
Whatever you’re afraid of, don’t let it limit you and keep you from discovering what you’re capable of. Here are a few tips for facing and getting past your fears:
Acknowledge Your Fear
The first step in overcoming any fear is acknowledging it. If you’re terrified of public speaking (and so many of us are) acknowledge it accept it as a real and natural emotion. It does you no good to try to suppress it or pretend it doesn’t exist. You have to be able to look your fears in the eyes in order to overcome them.
Once you’ve identified your fear and acknowledged it, the next thing to do is rationalize it. Why are you afraid of speaking in public? What about it scares you, and why is that such a bad thing? A lot of times when we’re afraid of something, if we take a moment to question what it really is that scares us, we discover that there’s really no need to be afraid after all.
Reach Out for Support
When you’re afraid of something, it’s important to realize that you’re not alone. As I mentioned before, millions of people are scared of public speaking. Studies have shown that most people fear it even more than death itself! Now that’s scary. But there are also millions of people who are great public speakers. Talk about a support network! Tap into that network. Connect with someone who’s an accomplished public speaker and ask them to help you get past your fear. Chances are it was something they had to overcome themselves.
Fear is a completely natural emotion. Just don’t let it stop you from achieving your goals.
For more on facing your fears, check out this wonderful post by Doug Heacock on Leo Babuta’s blog, Zen Habits.