Doctor Amy Silver (main photo) is a psychologist, speaker and author on the management of our emotions for high performance. Her new book, The Loudest Guest: How to control and change your relationship with fear is out now. In this guest post, the Doctor offers top tips in turning your fears into something far more positive…
There is nothing wrong with the emotion of fear. Sometimes our fear is extremely helpful. It can push us to avoid failure and we can use it to push our performance into a strong place. However, sometimes your fear will be controlling you, without your consent. What relationship do you have with fear, does it guide you or control you?
What does your fear tell you to do?
If you imagine fear almost as a guest in our mind, we can get close enough to it to understand it, evaluate it and use it. When we can tune into what fear has to say in our internal narrative, it may say “you’re going to fail” or “people will mock or reject you”. It will often then give us an instruction, ‘retreat’ or ‘attack’ as a way of keeping us safe. It will tell us to keep quiet, stay silent, don’t show up, don’t shine, don’t let them see how you feel, don’t connect, stay safe or stay tough. Sometimes it will be helpful to listen to fear’s instruction and do what it says. However, sometimes it will lead us into behaviours that don’t actually serve us in the long term. If these behaviours are extensive or persistent, we will reduce our potential by doing as it says.
But what do you want to do?
Whether we do pull back or attack is up to us, not the fear voice. The fear voice will continue to chatter or shout loudly, fear will always be with us. But it is up to us what we do next. It is a crucial self-management skill to make sure that our behaviour serves us in the longer term, otherwise we are purely reacting to what we perceive is a threat without doing the necessary evaluation of whether it serves us in the long term.
Who is in control, your fear voice or you?
Do you ever feel like there are things you aspire to but know you hold yourself back in some way? Do you doubt your capability or feel a sense of imposter syndrome? Do you try to please people so much it causes you to take on too much? Do you feel that you often get irritated with others, or with yourself, or worry about losing control? Do you think you could achieve more or have more fun with a little more courage? If any of this stands true for you, your fear voice is probably more in control of you than serves you!
Control your fear
There are some simple ways to change our relationship with fear and control it. The first and most important goal here is to understand how in control your fear voice is. Understand where it gets triggered and how you habitually react when you have been triggered. Look for patterns and seek understanding about why these patterns exist and where they originated. Treat fear like a welcome guest in your mind. It is never going away so denying it or pretending you don’t have it is pointless. Anyway, we do not want to become fearless, we need fear to help keep us on track with our lives.
However, just because fear is a loud guest does not mean we have to do as it says. It might be time to take back control and understand that what fear wants for you might not serve you well. What the fear voice is telling you might be useful but perhaps worth evaluating before you let it decide what is best for you. Once you decide what you want to do, despite your fear feelings, you can experiment with new ways of approaching your goals. Making baby steps towards your goals means you push beyond fear, proving to yourself that your fear voice does not need to control you.
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