Fear is a good emotion. It keeps us safe and discourages us from taking unnecessary risks. The problem occurs when fear keeps us from doing things that we want to do or from doing things that are necessary, or beneficial. In these cases you have to be afraid and do it anyway. You have to do it afraid.
Here are 4 tips on how to do things you are afraid to do:
- Be prepared. When I took ballet classes as an adult I was terrified that I'd make a fool of myself. When was the last time you saw a 200lb ballerina??? I was afraid the instructor and other students would make fun of me. But ballet was something I always wanted to try. I prepared for the class by following the instructions in the course guide. I purchased real ballet slippers from the dance shop. The "one size fits all" dance tights did not fit me so I used my own tights. These were not dancing tights but the tights I wear in the fall with skirts and boots. I was scared when I showed up for class. But regardless of how nervous I was or how much I did not look like a traditional ballerina, I did look ready. Being prepared showed the instructor and other students that I was serious. Being prepared gave me more confidence.
- Keep it simple. I hate public speaking. I don't like being on stage or holding a microphone. Yet I have spoken in public representing my blog. I even host my own blog events where at a minimum I have to welcome people and introduce speakers. Everytime I have to speak in public I have sweaty palms, forget things, and have lots and lots of anxiety. I am able to do it anyway by keeping it simple. I don't refer to these engagements as public speaking. I tell myself I am simply telling some people about my blog and why I write it. No big deal.
- Take small steps. Sometimes I feel like my social life is lacking and the singles scene sucks. Ok a lot of the time I feel that way. I have talked with my mom a lot about going out by myself because: 1 sometimes people are not available and I should not have to stay home because they are busy and 2 often guys will be more inclined to approach a woman if she is not surrounded by friends. But I don't like going out alone. I feel insecure and vulnerable sitting at the bar or table top alone. Yet I have managed to do it at least 3 times so far this year. What has made it doable is I take small steps. I first went to a place I was familiar with. I also made a deal with myself that I only had to have 1 drink and if I still didn't feel comfortable I could go. Knowing I was taking just a small step made it easier to try something that is scary.
- Do it on your own terms. Since I started blogging I have been going to blog conferences. Sometimes they are local but often they are out of town. This involves traveling in unfamiliar places and lots of social and professional interaction with strangers. Even though I have tons of fun at blog conferences and come home feeling fired up and ready to go, there is a fair amount of anxiety thrown in the mix. One way to lessen the anxiety is to do things that make it easier for you. For me that means I have my own room. A roommate would be cheaper and believe me these conferences do add up. However having my own room means I have a place to retreat to when I need a break to decompress, to take in what I've learned, and to organize my thoughts. Having my own room gives me the down time I need to keep the anxiety from rising and ruining my good time. That is how I do it on my own terms.
Fear is not always a bad thing but it is something we often have to overcome or work through. Don't wait until you are no longer afraid to pursue your goals, dreams, passions, or explore your options and talents. Acknowledge you are afraid and then do it anyway.
I'm sure there are many other ways to approach fearful situations. What approach do you take when you are afraid but have to or choose to do it anyway???
P.S. This entire blog post, like many others, is a reminder and a way of encouraging myself to keep pushing through my fears and expanding my comfort zone.