Are you old enough to remember fold-out paper maps. You know the ones they used to give out free, and then later sold at service stations like Shell and Texaco? If you do, then you remember pulling over to the side of the road (hopefully), unfolding the map to its full 4’ X 4’ size and then trying to find out if you were still on the right path to your destination.
But, before you could determine the best route to your journey’s end, you needed to do a little detective work. I call this part of the process the, “Where the *$@% are we?” activity. You see, you can’t go from here to there, without knowing where “here” is. Even the smartest person on earth couldn’t map you a route without having a specific starting point.
The same is true with overpowering fear. Unless you can recognize and accept the things you fear, you’ll never be able overpower them and remove these obstacles from your life.
Now you’re probably thinking why would I not know my own fears? And that’s a very good question. The answer is actually quite simple. Many of your fears have been with you for a lifetime. Over that many years of fighting a fear you have created “work arounds” to avoid facing that particular fear. A work around is just something you’ve created to sidestep the fear. As an example: Let’s say you hate going to parties where you hardly know anyone. You’re uncomfortable when meeting new people. The thought of making small talk terrifies you. You don’t have confidence that you can carry on an intelligent conversation, believing that you’re not that smart or well read.
So, when invited, you casually ask the hostess who else will be attending. She responds, “Oh, mostly my husband’s friends from work. But they’re a great group.” The first thing you do is feel the old fear. But that quickly dissipates when you respond with your work around, “Oh, the parties a week from Saturday. I’m sorry, I’ve already committed myself to babysitting my niece. But keep me in mind for the next one.” You have done this so many times in the past that you probably don’t even recognize that you’re doing it.
In overpowering any fear the first step is acknowledging that you experience it. Once you accept that you do suffer from this fear you can now use my techniques for facing and overpowering it. Exercise 1 in my book Overpowering Fear – Defeating the #1 Challenge in Sales and Life gives you the tools you need to identify the fears you experience.
OK, you want to know now. I hear you. Here’s what you do: Go into a quiet room with a legal pad and a pen. Make yourself comfortable. Ask your higher power to guide you in identifying the fears in your life (you may have to do this several times). Now wait. Soon a fear will pop into your mind. Write it down. Soon another and then another. Don’t prejudge anything. You’ll know when you’re finished. Then prioritize your fears from the ones you experience the most down to the least. Now start with the first one, walk up to it, face it and just overpower it.