I love a bit of self-coaching so thought I’d let you in on my little strategy for busting those fear-based thoughts we all have from time to time.
All of us have fears – small ones, big ones and some almighty ones which hold us back from doing the things we want to do in life. One of the trickiest things about this is that so often we don’t actually know what these fears are.
All we know is that when faced with situations that are outside of our comfort zones we notice uncomfortable feelings. These feelings can get overwhelming and stop us following through with things BUT we rarely actually explore our fears, we just run away instead.
The example I am going to give to you from my own life is when I was due to go to a party totally on my own and was feeling quite nervous and forming all kinds of made-up fears in my head. It was the Christmas party of the Female Entrepreneur Association which I am a member of, but have only been a member for the last few months so it was all new to me.
So here are the steps to take when it comes to fear-busting:
Really listen to the thoughts that are going on in your head. What thoughts are you telling yourself?
We often need to get really quiet to hear these thoughts because we are constantly surrounded by noise, whether that’s distractions in the outside world or lots of chatter in our minds. I find meditation really helps with this (see a previous blog post on meditation here).
So, going back to my example. In the days leading up to the party I was noticing that I was having thoughts such as…
“Everyone else at the party is going to be so much further along in their business than me and I’ll feel out of place.”
“Everyone will know each other already and no-one will want to talk to me.”
“I’ll say something stupid and make a tit out of myself.”
So the good news here is that I was noticing these thoughts, which honestly is half the battle. Probably more than half the battle in fact.
So you’ve listened to those pesky fear-based thoughts, now you need to analyse them.
I wrote down all my thoughts in this particular scenario and it was really powerful to get them out of my head where they were bouncing around and making me feel uneasy.
When the thoughts are in front of us in black and white we are at a better starting point to analyse them. My assumption that everyone else at the party is going to be further along in their business is totally crazy and I was not basing that on any solid evidence. I was simply allowing my fear to creep in and make me feel that I’m ‘not good enough.’ We often fall for these thoughts hook, line and sinker and it holds us back. I was determined not to fall into that trap.
It can also be helpful to ask yourself where these thoughts stem from. We can often trace things back to feeling out of place or like we're not good enough as a child and notice that we’ve carried these feelings of insecurity with us through to adult life.
3. REPLACE WITH A POSITIVE THOUGHT
So we’ve listened to the fear-based thoughts and called them out and now we need to ditch them. You could opt for a ceremonial burning of your page of thoughts which I’m sure would be very therapeutic but not something I have done myself…yet! Maybe I will next time though.
I wrote out a list of positive, affirming thoughts that I was consciously choosing to have. Things like, “I have every right to be there, I am working hard to achieve my dreams and I’ll share my story confidently with the women I meet.”
You can get really creative and really turn your negative thoughts on their head. Don’t be afraid to really go for it. If these positive affirmations seem too good to be true, and a little on the ridiculous side, then that’s good because your fear-based thoughts were rather on the ridiculous side as well weren’t they?
This exercise really shifted something for me. Yes, I was still a little nervous rocking up on my lonesome to a party of successful and inspiring women but I think many people would find that daunting. The important thing is that I did it and I busted my fears, which after all were totally made up in my head and guess what, I had a fantastic time and met some amazing women, including the totally inspiring Carrie Green.
You can apply this process to all kinds of fear-based and negative thinking. Remember the key thing is to notice the thoughts, so pay attention to the crazy things we tell ourselves and call yourself out. I do it on a daily basis and it’s one of the best ways to grow.
I've also done a YouTube explaining these steps so have a watch here if you're interested.