Frequently, fear has deep roots in our pasts. Specifically, in our childhood when we first experienced the dreads of not fitting in, being rejected, being wrong or not being good enough. The latter is essentially at the root of all others. We fear that we will be rejected, lose relationships and end up abandoned because we aren’t good enough.
The majority of our fears are ingrained in false beliefs and have very little to do with reality. What are real, rather, are the powerful emotions triggered by fear. Ultimately, fear is a jarring emotion that gets amplified by the reptilian fight or flight side of our human make-up. Our negative self-talk can be so powerful to push the anxiety associated with our fear to a level where our response morphs into utter avoidance.
For example, one morning, you walk into the office and find a very animated voice message from a client asking you to call her back immediately. You recently invested for that client into a discounted closed-end fund, with the intent to liquidate it once the high discount narrowed. Unanticipated economic news instead moved the discount in opposite direction. Your mind begins its fear producing chatter: “Now she’s going to complain about her investment losing value. I do not want her to treat me like if I am a novice who doesn’t know what is doing. How can avoid making this call?”
In reality, what frightens us most is experiencing the feeling of being afraid. Ultimately, that’s our greatest fear. Our mind possesses the power to distort supposed outcomes to levels beyond mere fiction. Fortunately for us, in real life most of the outcomes we end up experiencing—even the one we dreaded the most—are never as bad as we envisaged them.
Fear of failure and rejection are part of our daily life—both personal and professional. We must learn that when we fail or experience rejection, it’s not a personal matter; people are not rejecting you or me, rather they are refusing the ideas we are proposing. Failure is a vital component of our success. It enables us—as long as we commit to learn from it—to refine our strategies and make our skills pliable for future success.
Fear interferes with conscious awareness, clear thinking, true knowing and in turn conscious behavior. There is no shield against fear. It is a mental creation and the only antidote against it is to lessen and possibly break our mind’s fear generating process. Experiencing fear is natural, but enabling it to prevent you from growing your business can be disastrous. So, here are a few tips you may want to implement when facing fear:
Acknowledge Fear: Our first reaction is to ignore our fears and hope they’ll go away. The longer we avoid them, the louder and nastier they become. By mindfully bringing our awareness to our fear, instead of just fighting or fleeing, we develop the courage needed to confront it.
You Are Not Alone: Understand that you, just like the rest of the people and animals on this planet, feel fear. Instead of ignoring it, experience it and try to look into its nature. Understand that ultimately it is just an impermanent and transitory feeling with no true inherent power of controlling your life.
Beginner’s Mind: Approach your fear as if it were your very first time facing it. Because every single experience in our lives is unique, you have never confronted this specific fear before, ergo, you do not know the endless possibilities associated with it. Keeping a beginner’s mind—an attitude that encompasses both doubt and possibility—empowers us to see any situation as fresh and new and be a huge game-changer.
Be in the Moment: Seek to quiet your mind and let go of any thoughts of past mistakes and what may happen in the future. Focusing on the present moment will help you trust that if you fail, you can be proud to have tried. Ultimately, let the old adage “fear the fear and do it anyway” be your ultimate goal.
Claudio O. Pannunzio
President and Founder