I lived my life feeling overly anxious for many years, too caught up in the cycle of fear to do anything about it. Living a self-limited life. Until the pain of staying where I was, the avoidance and self-induced guilt of not trying to change, became too much to bear. I then learned that taking charge and changing my approach would be the only thing that would make me feel better.
I started with small steps and a gradual hierarchy to face my social and speaking fears.
You know what? The pain of feeling “stuck” and afraid was far worse than the fear of finally taking action. It starts with a new perspective: Don’t judge yourself for having fear; it´s normal! We are conditioned to avoid pain and discomfort and to seek pleasure.
How can you perceive your fear in a new light?
• Fear can signify that you are about to step out of your comfort zone and take action.
• What lies outside of your comfort zone? Your passion, dreams, energy, enthusiasm, growth, contribution and feeling fully ALIVE.
• It means that you are about to do something meaningful; something new or that is not part of who you are fully yet.
• Fear goes hand in hand with success. You’ll never unlock your potential if you hide within the shell of your comfort zone.
What courageous people have learned more than anything else, is to take action in the face of fear and uncomfortable feelings. Do you think of yourself as courageous? It’s important that you start going out into the world and make new experiences regardless of your fear.
One of my most defining moments was about 9 years ago, when I was desperately seeking a program to help me with my fear of public speaking and social situations. When I finally found Janet’s website and workshop, I knew I was ready.
My fear had already transformed into enthusiasm and I eagerly anticipated attending the workshop. Of course, I experienced some anticipatory anxiety, but the excitement was much more prevalent. I felt hope and a deep desire for change.
Looking back, I now think of my fear as one of my greatest gifts, to fully becoming who I was meant to be, to reaching beyond my highest expectations, creating a community of like-minded individuals, and most importantly coming to peace within myself.
How will you begin to face your fears? How about a hierarchy?
Here is an example similar to mine when I first started facing my fear of public speaking:
- Look online for a forum or a private Facebook group with people who share the same fear.
- Find a local support group or a group in general that focuses on social, speaking or performing anxiety. Unfortunately, these are often hard to find. Want me to help you find resources in your area?
- Visit your local Toastmasters club just to check it out. You don’t have to speak or join. Simply go and observe.
- Find a workshop or conference that focuses only on the FEAR of public speaking. (Hmmm… I’m drawing a blank on where to find this resource; )
Then take it out into the “real world”:
- Contribute in a work, academic, or volunteer meeting. Ask a question or make a statement. Increase your participation at each meeting.
- Offer to do more at work, school or in your community that involves you taking on a leadership role of speaking or performing.
- Go back to Toastmasters and do brief impromptu speaking exercises called “Table Topics”. Membership is usually not required to participate in Table Topics.
- Join Toastmasters and start giving speeches. It’s much easier to start here than in the “real world” if you find the right club for you. Explore different clubs if possible.
This may seem overwhelming at first, but in small steps, your confidence will build and your fear will fade.