What To Do When You Feel Afraid | Lisa Steingold

What To Do When You Feel Afraid

People often ask me “Lisa, don’t you ever feel afraid?”. I always reply with “Always! It’s just the level that varies”.

Things I find I feel afraid of…

  • I’m afraid I’m too old
  • Of my parents passing away
  • War
  • That my work will never have widescale relevance
  • That I’ll never be in a relationship in which both people are both truly happy
  • That my knee will never recover
  • That the book I put out into the world is shit

And a potential million more.

We all hold secret fears. 

Typical fears include

  • Becoming seriously ill
  • Not having enough money for the future
  • Dying
  • Being alone
  • Being in a relationship
  • Public speaking
  • War
  • Making mistakes

And now there’s the threat of robots taking over our jobs and lives. 

It’s no surprise that we feel so overwhelmed in general. With so much happening in the past few years and at such a pace it’s easy to feel hopeless or just completely frozen in fear.

More and more over the past few years I’ve thought about how to be the change. In a world where nothing seems stable, we have to learn to become the change.

The effects of fear

Fear is a normal human response to a perceived threat designed to help save your life but it can be paralyzing. Yes, it triggers the fight or flight response so that either we become so busy that we don’t have to face them. OR we just hide in a plethora of ways; Netflix, alcohol, overeating…

This ironically does work. But only for so long.

At some point, we’re left with no choice but to find another way.

3 ways to overcome fear

  1. Write them down

Fear is a slimy bugger. It likes to hide in the shadows. The more it hides, the more it begins to own you. The bigger it grows and feels.

I remember being afraid of the dark as a little girl. You know what my mom did? She put on a little night light. Problem solved.

It’s the same thing here. 

Shine a little light on them and watch them shrink.

People often say don’t write down your fears because you’ll make them real. Hogwash and total ‘kuk’. By writing them down you, in fact do the opposite, you take them out of the shadows and shrink them. In essence, you separate them from yourself.

A diary is your best friend! It’s something I keep with me at all times. 

I’m afraid that… and just keep writing. Doesn’t matter if you have 100 or more! Keep writing until they’re out of your head and on the page. 

2.Feel the fear and do it anyway. Just show up

I can’t remember who said this but I remember watching a talk where the person speaking said “Half the battle of life is won by just showing up”.

It’s true.

Feel the fear. Close your eyes and feel it. Where does it sit? In your heart? Your stomach? Your throat? Feel it. Breathe into it.

And then go and do your thing! Will you fail? Maybe but the greatest failure is not trying anything at all.

All you have to do is show up.
Show up for the interview. Show up for the hard conversation. Show up for the audition. Show up and keep showing up no matter how many times it takes.

Keep failing? Repeat after me “I’m afraid and that’s ok. I’m going to learn something that helps move me forward”.

3. DO 1 Thing

The reason that fear overwhelms us is because we begin to believe things like “I can’t do this, I’m too old, I’m not good enough, I wasn’t born for this… and all the other nonsense we believe when we’re afraid.

These thoughts lead to feeling hopeless and overwhelm. We begin to believe that we are indeed capable and even begin to find ways to prove to ourselves how hopeless we are, in the case of learned helplessness.

But you’ve got this.

Similar to showing up, try just doing one thing. Just one, even if it’s just a breath. Don’t focus on the whole.

Just do this one hour. This one meeting. This one task.

Focus on it so that the overwhelm begins to fade into the background.

THEN (and this is the trick) use that one thing to prove to yourself that you can do it! You can!

PS What’s the worst that could happen?

What is the worst that could happen?

IF you make a wrong decision, it doesnt mean your life is from that point ‘screwed’. No. You can make a different decision going forward.

Losses can be recovered. Health can be regained. There’s always another chance at a relationship or a job or an investment opportunity. Always. 

Just because you’ve had a certain experience in the past, it doesn’t mean it will continue that way but sometimes making friends with the worst gives you freedom. It allows whatever you do to be that way without the stress of it needing to go a certain way. You become free to focus on the actual process as opposed to the outcome.

Take a breath, you’ve got this

Breathe. No really, I mean it. When in doubt just breathe and remember this too shall pass. 

Whatever is happening right now is shaping you, making you stronger and more resilient.

Keep going, you’ve got this!

Drop me a mail to share your experiences or simply comment on the blog. I’d love to know!

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