I am writing this blog as an extension to the blog “Why do we Fear Failure?” that I wrote a while ago, which got raving response (Click here to read that). Lot of people responded to that asking how they can overcome the fear of failure. So, I thought it was apt to write another post about how one can overcome Fear. One of my all-time favourite quotes is “How you do anything is how you’ll do everything”. I think it was Jack Canfield who said that. I think there is a great merit in that statement. In the context of overcoming fear, it would be apt to see what people are generally afraid of. I was looking up some data and I found this:
This was probably the most commonly cited survey about fears, which was done in 1973 in USA. I did not look for a more recent, relevant study, because that is not the point I am trying to make. The point is that you will notice that while you may share some of these fears, you will feel that some others on that list are ridiculous. My favourite definition of FEAR is False Evidence Accepted as Real.
Whatever it is you are afraid of, you will notice that there is rarely ever any logic or reason behind that. Ask people who are scared of dogs if they’ve had a bad incident involving dogs, and you will be surprised to see that most of them will say no. Ask your friends who claim to be scared of heights, if they’ve ever had a fall, you’ll be surprised. Find out from people who are scared of deep water if they’ve seen someone drown, in most cases that wouldn’t be the case. On the contrary, if you’ve been through a traumatic incident involving anything “fearsome”, in most cases you’ve already seen the worst and you’ll know there is nothing to be afraid of. So, FEAR is really False Evidence Accepted as Real.
Now, if you re-read the last paragraph, you may be slightly inclined to believe that you are not going to be afraid of anything that you have already seen or been through. That should convince you that the best thing to do to overcome fear is to just do whatever it is you are afraid of.
In my opinion, Fear of Failure is not a separate type of fear. It is at the stem of every fear we have. Fear of speaking in front of an audience is really the fear that you may fail in putting up a good show. Fear of heights is fear that you may fall or fail to stay safely up there. Fear of bugs or insects is really fear that you may fail to get out unhurt. Fear of financial problems is the fear of failing in your responsibilities and so on. The reason I make this point is that if you want to overcome the fear of failure, overcome all your fears one by one. Again I reiterate, the most effective way to do that is to just face it. To make this experience of facing your fear a little easier, take help.
Till I was in my high school, I was very shy and introvert. I was very scared of the stage. I would do whatever I could to avoid public speaking. I joined a public speaking course that helped me overcome it. Today, I conduct courses and workshops where I address a few hundreds on the stage. I always believed I was a very bad dancer. A couple of years back I joined salsa classes. I was indeed really bad. But I kept at it, I got better and I got to perform on stage at an International Dance Congress. I was always a poor athlete in school. So I stayed away from any sport that needed me to run. I took to cycling and running for fitness. I realized I was wrong about it all this while and decided to prove it to myself. Me and my wife cycled from Bangalore to Mysore and back(about 150kms one way) and then ran from Bangalore to Chennapatna(about 50 kms). The more I started challenging my fears, the lesser I was scared of anything.
Fear is like your shadow on the wall. The farther you try to get from it, the larger it grows.
I like what Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Do one thing every day that scares you. Do it and freedom is yours for taking.”
ps: Another resource that I found that could help overcome fear is an Emotional Freedom Technique called tapping. Check out this book called Tapping Into Ultimate Success by Jack Canfield and Pamela Bruner. Lot of videos are also available on youtube that demonstrate this technique, which can be used to overcome a variety of limiting beliefs including fear.