F-E-A-R has two meanings: Forget Everything and Run or Face Everything and Rise.
– Zig Ziglar
We love these kinds of quotes, don’t we? They inspire us and move us into action. At the very least, they move us to click the ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons in our social media feeds so that we can spread the love and encouragement.
What happens next, though? How do you use those words to take action in your lives, on your dreams, and in your relationships?
It starts with choosing to face fear and learning to talk back — loudly — to the hater in your head.
How to Talk Back to the Hater in Your Head
People like to encourage you to just walk on by your fear and wave past it as you saunter into your new life. Those people, though — they are not in your head. They don’t really know how loud you inner critic can be, or how insistent the doubters in your own life can be, when you start thinking or talking about taking chances, pursuing new dreams, or making change.
They just don’t know. But you do. Here’s what I know:
You can’t just kumbaya your way through fear. You have to go to war.
– Heather Gray
Sure, you might be taking your fair share of deep breaths along the way, and that miracle morning mantra you repeat will come in handy. But to really face fear and create a new ending for this chapter in your story, you have to prepare for battle and get your game plan together.
Get prepared: Know your enemy
In order to face your fears, you need to understand your fears. Of course, there are people who manage clinical anxiety or chronic worry, but that’s not what we’re really talking about here. Those of you suffering with symptoms of clinical anxiety may indeed benefit from these strategies that will be outlined, but you might also need additional professional support and services to really achieve a higher level of health and function.
When we talk about fear in the self-improvement and personal development arena, we are most often referring to the biological response our bodies have to risk, change, or anything new. It’s the voice that says:
What if I fail?
Who am I to think I can pull this off?
If it were really a great idea, someone else would have already thought of it.
I’m too old, too young, or too [fill in the blank] for this. I have no business being here…
You might remember this from your high school biology days. Us animals are hard-wired with a fight or flight response. We instinctively want to flee when danger, risk, or the unknown approaches us or or we are compelled to fight.
Your hater in your head is partly there because of biology. It can’t immediately suss out the difference between seeing a shadow in the dark and having a new, innovative idea for your career or business.
The doubts you might hear from those around you are also influenced by that same biological instinct.
What happens next is up to you. It’s your move.
Sure, you have a biological response to fear but that is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for choosing not to take action in your life. You can’t just sit back on your laurels and blame biology for why nothing changes in your life.
Now that you know what to expect, you know you can fight it.
Open your arsenal: Fight fear with competence
For some reason, so many people stop at the questions. What if I fail… what if I am not good enough… what if….
Well, why not take the second to answer those questions! What does happen if you fail? Will you be wrecked? Will you be capable of recovering? Will you be giving up something of yourself that you can’t possibly get back? If you were to fail, would you really find yourself regretting ever trying? If you fail, are you capable of getting back up?
The answers to these questions become the arsenal you use to talk back to the fears, the hater, and the doubters. Sure you don’t want to fail, but if you must fail, in all likelihood, you’ll be okay in the end. Not wanting to fail and not being capable of failing are two completely different things.
Your capacity is where your proof lies, and it’s on you to start amassing the evidence of what you are truly capable of. Start collecting examples of all the times where you have succeeded, where you have thrived, where you have stepped out and shone. Take stock of what you know and what you are capable of accomplishing.
Acknowledge the fear and talk back to it
You see the fear. You know it’s there, and you know what it looks like. It’s technically there because it has your back. It just doesn’t yet know that you’ve got this. You’re already on it.
See the fear, acknowledge it, and argue with it using what you know to be true about your capabilities.
Don’t wait for fear to pass before making your move
An enemy doesn’t just change its mind and retreat when you start to confront it. You can’t just sit there and think or talk your way out of fear. It might remain there as you grapple with it. That simply is not a reason not to take a risk.
You are not going to feel comfortable the first time you face a fear, or even the second time. Over time, though, your automatic thoughts will change and that is how the fear dissipates.
Determine your next move by answering this one question
You know what your fear looks and sounds like. You know what to anticipate, and now you know how to respond. However, as you go forward into your new challenge and take new risks, new obstacles will find you. They’ll either be real challenges that you will need to problem-solve your way out of, or they will be stories you have simply created inside your head. Either way, at each road block, ask yourself this one question:
Am I willing to stay where I am and keep feeling the way I do in order to avoid the fear that comes with taking the next step?
If the answer is yes, own it. You’re in control.
However, if the answer is no, get moving! You’ve got some fear to kick. You’ve got this, and you’re ready. We’re all just excitedly waiting to find out what you do next.