Do you ever:
- remain silent even when you have something to say?
- keep your thoughts or feelings to yourself?
- avoid doing new things?
- refuse to give old, worn-out things away?
If so, you are afraid.
So, let’s just agree that everyone has some degree of fear. It might be small, large, or hardly apparent, but it’s there.
Manage Your Mind
I often share with my Certified High Performance Coaching clients and the members of my Inspired Creator Community that fear is a mismanagement of your mind. So if you want to experience less fear, do a better job of managing your mind.
Managing your mind involves awareness of what you think and then consciously choosing what thoughts to focus upon. If you aren’t doing that, your thoughts become like unruly employees who put their attention on unproductive projects.
It’s your job as the CEO of your mind to rein those thoughts in and focus them on something productive. Give them a job that helps you feel confident, safe, and secure.
So, how do you do that? Here are eight ways.
1. Stop thinking about potential unwanted futures.
When you feel afraid, see that emotion as a sign that you are poorly managing your thoughts. You have allowed yourself to think about things that make you anxious, stressed, or afraid.
Typically, your fear comes from thinking about an unwanted potential future. You project yourself via your imagination into a futuristic scenario where you experience precisely what you want to avoid. You allow your thoughts to be trained on something scary that could happen but might not happen.
Real fears are different. That’s what you feel when a truck drives headlong toward you at full speed. It’s what you feel when a mountain lion chases you or someone, God forbid, holds a gun to your head. That’s when your mind says, “Holy sh*t! I might die!”
That’s genuine fear.
2. Stop focusing on scary stories.
However, the majority of your fears are not real. They are related to thoughts about possible failure, judgment, abandonment, or betrayal, for instance.
Often…maybe always…your mind replays old movies in your head. It continuously shares stories about things that happened to you previously. And you believe those situations will happen again.
For example, you might think, “Every time I talk to my sister, she judges me. So, I know she will judge me when I see her tomorrow.” You’re imagining that she will behave the same way again based on past experience and fearing how you will feel as a result.
You can stop the fear. Just put that story away and create a new one you like better.
3. Stop focusing on and resisting what you fear.
What you focus on expands. So, if you focus on the possibility of being judged, you increase the chances of being judged.
And what we resist persists. So, as long as you resist doing something—like seeing your sister—you perpetuate your fear and resistance.
Look at it this way: if you focus on what you’re afraid of, you create more reasons to feel scared. In other words, there’s a high likelihood you’ll create what you fear just because you’ve focused on it with so much emotion (fear).
So, move your attention to something that makes you feel safe and secure.
4. Become aware of your fearful thoughts.
Feelings follow thoughts. I’ve also heard a few transformational coaches say thoughts follow feelings. In my experience, they occur almost simultaneously.
If you feel scared, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What am I thinking about?” Or “What thoughts are generating the feeling of fear?”
When you clarify where your mind is focused, you can shift your attention to a different thought. Not only is this a very simple way to begin managing your mind, but it’s also a way to manage your fear, anxiety, and worry.
To become more aware of your thoughts, try meditating. Notice where your thoughts go as you sit quietly, focused on your breathing. Do they always move to the things you don’t want, and that scare you? If so, you know why you feel afraid.
5. Become aware of feeling scared, anxious, or worried.
If you are in the emotions-lead-to-thoughts camp, pay attention to how you feel. You may not usually be in touch with your feelings. So do an emotional check-in several times per day. Become aware of when you feel anxious, worried, or scared.
If you are feeling afraid, what thoughts are sparked by that emotion? To gain more awareness and understanding of your emotions, keep a journal where you record when you feel scared and what thoughts flow out of that feeling.
6. Realize that your thoughts are not real.
The other part of managing your mind involves knowing that your thoughts are not real. Instead, they are figments of your imagination.
What’s real is the fact that you think your thoughts. And that means you can choose what to think.
Unless that gun is against your forehead, your fear is not real either. Instead, the feeling results from a mental construct, a future potentiality that may never become real.
Ask yourself, “Am I safe right now? That thing I’m afraid will happen…has it happened to me before? Do I have any proof that it’s going to happen again? Did I survive it last time?”
There’s no way to prove the same thing will happen again. So choose to think about a more positive outcome.
7. Realize you are—and likely have been—safe.
It’s easy to retell a scary story repeatedly. For instance, after I told my coach several times I felt scared about financially supporting myself, she said, “Nina, have you ever not had enough money?”
My response: “No.”
“When you’re growing up, did your family have enough money?”
Have you ever been financially unsafe in any way?”
“No, I haven’t,” I replied.
“So why do you keep telling yourself you will be financially challenged in the future?”
There was no reason. At that moment, I realized I had never lacked for much of anything financially. But my mind constantly reminded me that this was a possibility. It told me a story, and I believed it—even though the story was not true.
Knowing that I had the choice to think about something else…to construct a new story that served me. I chose to focus my mind on the prosperity I have experienced and will continue to experience.
8. Know most courageous acts do not result in death.
I know people afraid to do things like go live on Facebook, skydive, or eat Brussel sprouts. Yet, when challenged to do so, they take bold action despite their fear.
In personal growth circles, after someone’s courageous action, it’s common to ask, “Did you die?”
Of course, they did not. These people are still here to tell their stories of courage.
And that fact gives them the confidence that if they need to do something scary again, they will survive.
Consider when you have been courageous. You are still here to tell the story! That bodes well for the future, does it not?
And that scary thing you need to do now…why not do it? And if you are still feeling uncertain, ask yourself if you will die in the process? For example, suppose the fear is about publishing your first blog post. What’s the likelihood that doing so will bring about your early demise? (Obviously, there is almost no likelihood of that happening.)
I’d be remiss not to mention unconscious fears and address how to manage them. Even though you aren’t aware of them, unconscious thoughts impact you…almost more than your conscious thoughts and beliefs. And often, fear stems from your subconscious mind.
Consider a time when you decided to do something different. For example, you might have wanted to take the first steps toward developing a new habit, leaving an unhappy marriage, or buying a new car. However, you struggled to take action.
The reason is simple: your brain didn’t want you to change because to the reptilian brain, change feels unsafe.
New Things are Scary
The reptilian or primal brain, which consists of the basal ganglia, controls your innate and automatic self-preserving behavior patterns. Simply said, this part of your brain is tasked with ensuring your survival. The reptilian brain deems anything new…even positive things like deciding to stop smoking, start an exercise routine, or take a new route to work, as life-threatening. Its job is to keep things status quo, which equates to safe.
So, while you may not feel afraid, your brain reacts as if there is a reason to be scared. And that makes it difficult to change anything.
But you can still manage your mind—even your subconscious mind. So here’s a bonus tip: Hire a hypnotist or hypnotherapist or try self-hypnosis.
Get in your subconscious mind and dig around…see what thoughts, stories, and beliefs make you feel afraid. And then change them on a subconscious level.
Do that and watch the fear dissipate, and your courage and sense of security increase.
We all can manage our minds. That goes for you, too. And when you become an excellent mind manager, you’ll discover even small fears disappear.
Do you do a good job of managing your mind? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with a friend.
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Photo courtesy of kevin turcios.