7 Ways To Overcome Fear And Self-Doubt
Everyone faces some form of fear and self-doubt. One of the most common forms of self-doubt that I often hear is, "Everyone already knows that - there's no reason for me to write a book on it."
But the truth is: not everyone knows what you know. And even if millions of other people are writing about or teaching the same thing, who cares? No one is you - only you can write the way you write - your voice is your own. Likewise, if you'd rather speak or teach than write a book (or in addition to a book), no one can use the exact same languaging you use, and no one's energy and presence is going to touch the same audience as you can.
But there's always that little tingle of self-doubt in the back of the mind, right?
Some people feel more fear and self-doubt than others. Quite often, these fears and self-doubts are products of our childhood. Some people are better at overcoming these emotions than others, but that doesn't mean you're any less of a person if you suffer with these kinds of feelings.
Regardless of where you fall on the fear/self-doubt spectrum, there are many things you can do to help rise above these emotions.
Identify what you’re actually afraid of. What do you really fear? Most of us don’t have to worry about being eaten by tigers. Our lives are rarely in danger. The most common fears in a modern society are failure and making a fool out of one’s self. Of course, there are others.
If you want to start a business, but can’t seem to get started, what is your real concern?
Maybe you want to ask out a coworker on a date. What is the real fear? They certainly aren’t going to hit you over the head with a rock.
Be aware of your actual fear, and then you’ll have a chance of addressing it.
Find situations related to your fear that are only mildly uncomfortable. Perhaps you have a fear of public speaking. What could you do that’s similar, but less terrifying? You could:
- Give a speech to a group of friends
- Start conversations with strangers
- Visualize yourself giving a speech
- Do more group activities and speak up more
If you’re afraid of heights, you could start by looking down over a 2nd floor balcony and slowly work your way up to greater heights.
Take action. Thinking creates and magnifies fear. Taking action lessens fear. One of the best ways to get over fear is to immediately take action before you have a chance to talk yourself out of it. This is kind of like jumping in feet-first, but also distracting yourself to a degree.
Most people would be more successful, happier, and less afraid if they thought less and did more. Nike's tagline "Just do it," comes to mind.
Visualize yourself being unafraid. Imagine you have a twin that’s similar to you, but different in other ways. If you could build the perfect twin, what would they be like? What skills, beliefs, and attitudes would they have? How would they handle the situation that creates fear in you? Allow yourself to become that twin.
Give yourself small successes. Set yourself up to win. Make the game so easy that you can’t fail. As you gain confidence, up the stakes a little. Get used to being successful in the situations that cause you to feel fear.
If the thought of making 100 cold calls a day makes you break out in a cold sweat, give yourself the goal of making just one cold call. The next day, you can do three.
Show yourself that you can do it. Show yourself that nothing bad is going to happen to you. This goes along with what I mean when I tell someone to make a list of steps, and then do the easiest, and then the next easiest, and so on. The more momentum you gain, the less you focus on the fear.
Be realistic. What is the worst consequence you are likely to endure if the thing you fear comes true? It’s probably not anything you can’t handle! Take about 15 minutes and journal about it. Answer the question, and then ask yourself: will my family still love me? Will I still be able to get out of bed tomorrow? If a publisher rejects my book idea, what's the worst thing that's going to happen - maybe I'll cry myself to sleep and then get up tomorrow morning and have breakfast as usual, right?
Get help. Whether you need some help from a friend or a professional, there’s no shame in getting help. You would get help if your car’s engine blew up. You’d get help if you had a broken leg. Get the help you need to deal with your fears.
How much do you allow fear and self-doubt to rule your life? Imagine what your life would be like if you could overcome all of your fears and self-doubt.
Most people avoid the actions that trigger these uncomfortable feelings. You can do better. You can act in the face of these emotions and live your life to the fullest. I'm not telling you to take a vacation and go skydiving tomorrow if you're afraid of heights. Don't do something that could traumatize you for the rest of your life. But, there's always a small step you can take that might just open the doors to the bigger stuff.