Feel the fear and do it anyway
In 2006 Susan Jeffers wrote a book, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” It is now called a “classic” on Amazon. We all feel fear now and then, and sometimes we can go through it and sometimes—well, we just can’t. It isn’t easy, but it’s almost always worthwhile. The payoff is big. The saying, “Feel the fear and do it anyway” has become cliché, but it is still an important concept.
Anxiety and Panic
Let’s get it straight that we’re not talking about anxiety or panic attack here. When anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of an everyday situation and results in physical symptoms, it is an anxiety attack. Panic attacks are sudden surges of overwhelming fear that comes without warning and without any apparent reason. It is far more intense than having anxiety or the feeling of being ‘stressed out” that most people experience. (for more on anxiety and panic attacks see http://www.anxietypanic.com/)
Fear is an emotion
Fear is an emotion raised by a real or imagined impending danger (see the article “Fear – The Mind Body Connection” above ). Some real fears are
- seeing a car coming straight at you in your lane of traffic
- seeing a tornado coming in your direction
- hearing a stranger in your house in the middle of the night
- being chased by a vicious dog
- being in a burning building, etc.
Some imaginary dangers are:
- speaking up even though I know I have the correct answer
- meeting people I don’t know
- trying something new even though it’s something I always wanted to do
- being alone
- and the list goes on and on and on
So what can you do about it? Well, Nike has the answer, and even if we’re sick and tired of hearing it, the answer is “Just Do It.” It’ s called feel the fear and do it anyw3ay.
There are some guidelines when you want to overcome your fear. Before y0u decide to “go for it” consider:
- What’s the fear about? Is it real or imaginary?
- The worst thing that can happen.
- The best thing that can happen.
- Is it worth the risk?
Let’s look at some possible scenarios:
Let’s say you want to meet the beautiful woman or handsome man at the party, but you shiver with fear all the way down to your toes at the thought of taking the initiative. Look at it? What’s the fear about? Is it about embarrassing yourself, about rejection? What? Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” Well, he/she might reject you. Right? So, then what? Does that shatter you or change your life in any way? You can simply think “next” and move on. Then ask yourself “What is the best thing that can happen? ” Perhaps you discover that there’s a mutual interest and enjoy their company at the party and afterward. The feeling of elation fills you because you pushed through your fear and said “hello.” Is it worth the risk?
You are asked to make a presentation in your area of expertise. It is a subject that many find appealing and the result can be helping some people. But saying “yes” sticks in your throat and everything in you says, “I can’t do it.” What is the fear about? Possible embarrassment? Rejection? Looking stupid? What’s the worst thing that can happen? You might mess up and experience your fears. Your knees may shake, and you may stumble through the presentation. But you WILL get through it. What’s the best thing that can happen? Because you know your subject well, you are able to breeze through your presentation and answer the questions that follow. You find that you actually enjoyed it. It makes you feel fantastic to know you did it. Is it worth the risk?
Go for it
You get the idea. You realize that fear is holding you back and you push through. Start with small, less intimidating challenges. When you have success, move on to the next thing you want to accomplish. You may have to learn some new skills to do some of the things you want to do. So? Go learn them. You don’t have to do it all at once. Take it easy—one step at a time.
You feel the fear and do it anyway4. The payoff? You accomplish something you wanted to do or obtained something you wanted to have, and you feel terrific about yourself. Your self-esteem ratcheted up several notches.
No, it isn’t easy, but it certainly is worth the risk.