When was the last time you let fear hold you back from doing something you really wanted to do? Or are you even aware of when it happens?
Maybe you didn’t ask for that raise because you were afraid of getting any response other than “Yes.”
Maybe you didn’t try that new class at the gym because you were afraid of “looking stupid”.
Maybe you didn’t ask that guy/girl out for a date because you were afraid of getting turned down.
Maybe you didn’t wear the outfit you’d be most comfortable and confident in because it’s not how you thought other people expected you to dress (this is a personal example from my past).
There are dozens more examples, but we let fear hold us back more frequently than we realize. I know I did in the past and I’ve been working vigorously on changing that.
What are we so afraid of? Why do we allow the possible what-ifs hold us back from doing the things we want to do?
This concept of fear keeping us from taking chances or doing the things we really want to do will be discussed in an upcoming episode of the Lift Like a Girl Podcast, but there are some thoughts I want to share about this now.
Don’t Let It Stop You
Here are some tips I’ve been practicing to stop letting fear hold me back, and the results have been amazing.
1. Ask yourself, What is the worst case scenario if I do this thing?
Seriously, answer the question.
As an example, if you want to try a new hobby or take a new class and you’re afraid to do so, what is the worst thing that can happen? Most likely, in this case, you may do everything wrong and people look at you weird, and maybe even laugh.
You may get made fun of and make a fool of yourself, but you won’t die. Your life won’t end.
Oftentimes the worst case scenario is nowhere near as bad as we imagine it to be.
That’s why you really need to ask, What’s the worst thing that can happen? It may not be as bad as you initially imagined.
2. Also ask, What’s the best case scenario?
If you do this thing, what is the best thing that can happen? Sticking with the above example, you will learn a new hobby that you enjoy and make some new friends. You may discover a talent you didn’t know you had.
In this example, the best case scenario is worth the risk of the worst case scenario.
Now, there are some more extreme examples where the worst case scenario has some truly impactful consequences. For example, if you want to quit your job (that has benefits, health insurance, etc) and start your own business, your worst case scenario needs to be evaluated and considered more closely.
But oftentimes the “little” things in life we want to do (e.g. ask for raise, ask someone out for a date, try a new hobby) are the things we don’t do, because we’re afraid of the negative things that may happen.
There’s a third and final question to ask …
3. What if you always let fear hold you back?
Sure, we can choose the safe-route and never take risks or step out of our comfort zones, but what kind of life would that be?
As morbid and cliche as it is, we all have limited time on this wonderful planet. Twenty plus years from now I’d rather look back on the risks I took and say, “I’m glad I tried that!” than look back with regret and think, “I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t let fear hold me back.”
What About Being Fearless?
I don’t think, for most people, there’s such a thing as being fearless. Most people experience fear, but they choose to act anyway. It’s easy to point at someone who is achieving awesome things or doing what they want and claim it’s because they’re “fearless”. More often than not they’re not without fear, but they refuse to let it hold them back.
Like many things in life – learning to play an instrument, weight lifting for the first time – acting in the face of fear takes practice, and the more you do it, the better you get at it.
Want to stop letting fear hold you back from doing the things you really want to do? Start small. The next time you want to do or try something but are hesitant because you get too focused on the what-ifs, put this into practice.
Stop and ask yourself what the worst and best case scenarios are.
Understand that giving fear the power to keep you from doing the things you want in this life is not the answer. Do that thing you want to do. Face the fear head on.
If the worst case scenario happens, learn from it and use that lesson for next time.
Related article: Life has Oh Shit! Moments. Here’s What to do with Them.
If the best case scenario happens, be proud. This will give you momentum to face fear head on the next time around as well.
All of this – not letting fear hold you back – is part of being the most awesome, authentic version of yourself. This is your life and you should live it with purpose.
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