Fear often stops us dead in our tracks. It holds us back. Fear might hold us back from applying from our dream job because we’re afraid we won’t get hired. Fear might stop us from asking a colleague or boss for a letter of recommendation because we’re afraid they’ll say no. Our feelings often get in the way of us finding success.
Yes, fear can cause us to stop and not move forward, but it doesn’t have to.
Fight or flight
According to Montreal’s top anxiety and depression psychotherapist, Sandra Reich, in the days when the saber-toothed tiger was chasing us, yes, indeed, we needed to be fearful! Being afraid was helpful! Our sympathetic nervous system kicked in to help us defend ourselves in the “fight” with the saber-toothed tiger. And it helped us to accomplish “flight” in case the fight wasn’t possible or wasn’t successful.
In the modern world, few of us face “saber-toothed tiger” situations. Yet, we worry. We fret, and we stress out. We still have the fight or flight response for a fear in our head.
Treating fear as a challenge
Remember hearing about “double dog dares” on the playground? Those childhood dares were the kid version of adult challenges.
If we take the fears we are facing as challenges, we have the desire to accomplish them. Consider something like The Amazing Race where contestants race around the world for a million dollars. Time and time again, contestants must face their fears to continue in the race. Perhaps someone with a fear of heights must bungee jump off a bridge to get the clue to move on to the next obstacle, but they must simply do it.
Rather than allowing fear to stop us, we can use it to challenge ourselves.
Carolyn Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D., says the more we face our fears, the easier it becomes each time. She suggests making a list of your fears and developing a routine to continue facing them, and to keep showing up.
Don’t give up
As Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky famously said,
You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.
You will never know the outcome if you don’t try, and you can’t succeed if you don’t try.
Erika Bryant’s book, Doing It Scared, guides readers through overcoming their fears and using them as a spring for potential.
In Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers encourages readers to embrace their fears and turn it into power instead.
If you’re feeling afraid of taking the leap toward your dream job, watch my free How to Become a Lactation Consultant video series. If you’re nervous about the IBCLC exam, take a review course. And if you’re fearful of about the next steps in your private practice business, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you persevered through fear to achieve a goal?