Unfounded Fears

Which of your fears are unfounded and which are legitimate?

They are all unfounded. Fear is an emotional response to a situation. As an emotional response, it’s automatic; there’s nothing we can do to prevent it.

The good news is we can overcome any fear that surfaces.

Overcoming fear

When fear arises, our natural tendency is to imagine the worst possible outcome. This too is an automatic response. There is nothing we can do to prevent it. 

But, if we ask the right questions, we can quickly set aside any fear that we have. Here are some examples to illustrate this point.

Loss

Recently an entrepreneur said he was afraid to tell people what he was working on. His concern was that someone would beat him to the punch and garner the lion’s share of the market.

This is a natural reaction…one that most of us have experienced during our lives, but is there any foundation to this fear?

Here are the questions I asked him that enabled him to quickly set aside his fear:

  • If you were the only provider of what you offer, could you serve everyone who needed your help?
  • Even if you could serve everyone who needed your help, would you want to work all of them?
  • For the people you’d rather not serve, would you still want them to be helped?

Understanding that he couldn’t serve everyone, nor would he want to, was all that it took for him to set aside his fear and share with others his vision for the future.

Missed opportunity

Another entrepreneur is a gifted presenter. She loved the energy she experienced from connecting with her audiences and sharing new ideas and insights with them.

Her friends encouraged her to share her wisdom on Facebook Live. She resisted. The more that she resisted, the more insistent her friends became. Eventually she began to fear that she might be missing out on an opportunity.

I asked her:

  • What do you enjoy about your live presentations?
  • What do you feel is missing from Facebook Live?

From these two questions she realized that she loved audience interaction, something that was missing in Facebook Live. In other words, Facebook Live didn’t fit her natural style. Her fear was unfounded; she wouldn’t have been effective using Facebook Live.

With these insights it was easy for her to make a conscious, unemotional decision not to use Facebook Live. Not only did she allay her fear, she had the language to use to explain to her friends why she wasn’t taking their advice…something her friends could readily understand.

Questions

If the key to overcoming fear is asking the right questions, how do we develop this ability?

The first step is to remind ourselves that our natural tendency is to imagine the worst possible outcome…and how rarely that outcome actually occurs. Most of us, after the fact, say “That’s not as bad as I thought it would be.”

The second step is to ask questions that shift your mind from its emotional state to one that’s analytical. Use questions like:

  • When have I thought that something was going to be a problem, only to discover that it was an advantage?
  • Why am I resisting? What is it about what I have to do that I find off-putting?
  • How can I structure things to minimize the fear I’m experiencing?
  • What will I enjoy when I overcome this fear?

The final step is to make a conscious decision based on your objective analysis.

This process helps you realize that all of your fears are unfounded. The more frequently you use this process, the more automatic this way of thinking becomes. So much so that you’ll find yourself making this mental shift as soon as the fear arises.

The result is that you’ll be able to set aside any fear you experience within milliseconds of its appearance.

For our kids

As you see kids experiencing fear, ask them the questions outlined above. They too will quickly set aside their fears. Kids are especially adept at adopting new ways of thinking when it serves them well.

Also, the more frequently they see you set aside your fears, the more they’ll mimic your behavior and set theirs aside as well.

It’s another way that you and your kids can enjoy the rewards confidence affords.

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