When it comes to fear I’ve lived on both sides of the fence. I’ve jumped out of airplanes, stood up to those who could have fired me and walked away from a secure life to find myself. When it comes to everyday life though I’ve conjured up way too many mishaps and misfortunes… most of which have never come to fruition.
Most? Yes… I have experienced a few self-fulfilling prophecies. I’ve lost my financial security which isn’t surprising because I always feared I would. I had a fender bender accident just moments after I told myself I wasn’t paying attention. I’ve even fallen down the steps moments after I was thinking I needed to be careful.
But what about those fears that we manufacture in our heads? How do we deflate those fears?
When Jack was first diagnosed with cancer I was sure he was going to die and I’d be left alone and unable to provide for myself. Being a rather resourceful person the “not being able to provide for myself” part had no justification. Could he die from his cancer, yes. But then again, maybe not. I went to the worse possible place before getting the facts (or the facts that were available.) Over the last couple of years Jack’s sisters and brother all have passed away. For months I worried that he wasn’t going to wake up one day. Despite having cancer Jack is relatively healthy, active and pain-free. My fear of him going to sleep and never waking up because his siblings died didn’t have any merit. Myoverly active imagination created that fear.
If you are paralyzed by fear, seek help. Whether you talk to a counselor or therapist, your minister or a family elder… talk. If you’re not ready to seek professional help then speak your fears out loud. Write them out on a whiteboard or some other prominent place. Exposing them to the light, so to speak, allows you to see them from a new perspective, one that is outside of your creative imagination.
I’ve learned that if I write down my worst fear and then examined the parts of it I can deflate it. Here is an example:
I could lose my job and not be able to pay the rent. I’d be homeless.
I could lose my job if:
- I received a poor performance review (or repeatedly poor reviews.) Reality: I’ve never had a bad review.
- The company went out of business. Reality: The company reports modest income so it’s unlikely.
- The company was acquired. Reality: I haven’t heard any rumblings about this but if they do I could work for the new company.
- If my boss is mad at me or doesn’t like me. Reality: We have our moments and my reviews have always been good.
- I frequently don’t show up for work on time. Reality: It’s only happened once when I had a flat tire.
- If I came to work impaired (drugs, alcohol) Reality: I don’t drink or use drugs.
I won’t be able to pay the rent. I’d be homeless.
- Once you go through the first part of your fear (I could lose my job) and get real with it… this one falls flat.
When you take the time to methodically work through every part of your fear you’ll be able to see that you are creating your own stress and it’s not based on anything concrete.
If in this exercise you see an opportunity to increase your feeling of security then take steps to do so. For example if you’ve had a poor performance review take the feedback to heart and make the changes your boss is looking for. If you aren’t sure what you need to do sit down with your boss and ask directly for guidance to increase your value.
There are real fears and there are fears that are products of our creative imaginations. Seek help for the real ones and use your personal power to deflate the self-created ones. Because you can!