What if you didn’t do something that scared you every day?
What if you did one thing that scares you per week?
I used to think that driving was the scariest thing in the world; I avoided driving like the plague.
I mean, can you blame me after getting into 2 accidents and constantly being yelled at when you’re that giddy 16-year old who dreams of racing down the 405 with the top down?
But I can now say that I’ve found a new Scariest Thing Ever.
And I’ve been doing it once a week.
Anyone who knows me knows that I wouldn’t wish therapy on my worst enemy; I would send it straight down into the seventh pit of Hades.
I keep my arms crossed the entire time.
I barely breathe for that entire hour.
I answer in clipped words.
Every bone is screaming at me to run like this man has a gun pointed at my head.
Do I like the therapist? Nope.
So WHY in the WORLD would I “want” to subject myself to sitting on a sweaty leather couch in a windowless room pouring out my heart (or as much as I feel is necessary for said therapist to get the answers to his questions) for an hour a week with my mother sitting in the next chair over?
Ask me that in a few months.
But I know for SURE that the Nike headline did not come to mind.
Because just doing it can be the scariest thing in the world. Sure, it may be one of the best pieces of kick-yourself-in-the-butt-and-enter-reality kinds of advice you can get, but sometimes it can be so unhelpful.
When you develop a fear, there’s a reason behind it, a story you have in your head. Something your mind wants to protect you from. It can be hard to “just do it” when all you’re hearing in your head is the wailing of an ambulance’s siren.
So how do you get over your fear?
- Find Someone Who Can Support You
I don’t care if it’s your best friend who you’ve known since you were 5 or your neighbor. Finding someone who knows you well and asking for support is essential.
I know for a fact that if I did not have the support of a life coach (who knows me outside of our working relationship) I would NOT be ready to step into a therapist’s office.
I’m not saying everyone needs to go find a life coach before you face your fears; not everyone can afford that. You don’t NEED to have a life coach, just having a close friend is good enough.
Knowing that you have a friend at your back who can support you when things get difficult is a big step in taking the leap to overcoming your fears.
- Don’t Push Yourself
I’ve said this before, but I have no shame in saying it again.
How many of you have compared yourself to your peers?
It’s easy to feel pressure when everyone around you is doing something, and you’re the only one who can’t.
I got my driver’s permit really early. I had these fantasies of cruising down the freeway with the top down.
It was easy; I had seen my parents drive me places all the time. You push a pedal and maneuver the car. How hard could it be?
I was yelled at, screamed at, had a few close scrapes.
Driving was not the straightforward, easy, fun thing that I thought it was.
It sucked having to ask my parents and friends for rides; I didn’t like having to take public transportation either.
But I was scared; I was more willing to spend more money and take more time to get places than confronting my fear.
It wasn’t until I started working on myself and let some time pass that I finally felt ready to try again.
You could say that I was procrastinating. But there is a strange part of me that is happy that I waited.
Because pushing yourself toward your goal can be good, but pushing yourself can also make you want to backtrack.
Everyone moves at their own pace. Just because you didn’t get something at the same time as everyone around you doesn’t mean that you’re worth any less than they are.
- Acknowledge Yourself For The Little Things
Wise words, MLK. Very wise words.
I’m a planner. I like to have every detail in place.
But then I realized something: if I kept waiting for everything to be perfect, I’d be waiting forever.
When I finally decided to learn how to drive (for real this time), I went in and took the written test to get my permit.
Did I know who I was going to practice with?
Did I know how I was going to get to practice in the family car on a consistent basis?
But I went in, took the test, and got that little piece of paper.
I made the first step.
Did my parents yell at me? Sure.
Did they guilt-trip me? Absolutely.
But as I returned home with that piece of paper in my hand, I felt so proud of myself. I couldn’t stop saying, “You did it,” over and over in my head.
I took my time getting home, took my time enjoying that feeling.
Because knowing that I had taken that first step rather than being dragged there, rather than being told that I “had to” do it was a lot more liberating than sitting in my house waiting for something to happen.
Sure, you may not have gotten over your fear, but the knowledge that you are taking steps to get over your fear feels pretty good right?
- Look At The Trees, Not The Forest.
I recently had a friend ask me if I could edit her work. That would have been fine, except for the fact that said work was going to be evaluated in order to determine if she could get her teaching credential.
Can someone say pressure?
Having her send it to me in sections helped me maintain my sanity. I was able to focus on each respective section as she sent it without the thought of “Oh my god, the deadline is getting closer; I have to get this done. Wait how many pages again?!”
I think the same is true for overcoming a fear.
If you focus on the little things you’re doing instead of the bigger picture, then it becomes less overwhelming.
Sure, not everyone is as detail-oriented as I am, and for some it might work to focus on the bigger picture. But some of us get overwhelmed too.
Breaking things down and focusing on one thing at a time makes things a lot easier.
- Take Time To Recharge
You wouldn’t go out for a run immediately after crossing the finish line at an Iron Man, would you?
Yeah, I thought so.
Every time I come back from one of those therapy sessions, it feels like I’ve run an Iron Man.
More tense than a coiled spring.
So yes, after those sessions I curl up with my dog, a cup of tea and Sherlock.
It’s important to take breaks and recharge, especially after you’ve taken little steps toward getting over your fear.
Because those little things are also big hurdles.
You don’t have to do one thing every day that scares you.
You just have to take little steps toward doing that one thing.
What sort of things have YOU do to help overcome your fears?
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