11th Sep 2020
When you run towards what you fear, it runs away, writes Niamh Ennis
One of the first questions my clients ask me is a question I asked myself for at least 30 years…‘so how can I remove these fears and doubts that block me every time I try to move forward, to change?’
I’ll admit that I too struggled with this one, for a very long time, and the more the answer evaded me, the more frustrated I felt. The more frustrated I felt, the more I convinced myself that the answer had to be ‘never’, otherwise I’d have uncovered it.
It was what they call that never-ending cycle.
And of course it turned out that I was wrong on all counts. The answer most definitely wasn’t ‘never’, but equally what had stopped me finding my answer was the simple fact that there was none!
So much has been written about removing your fears, getting rid of them, and the truth is you don’t ever, you can’t ever, remove them or get rid of them. And this is exactly where so many of us try and fail.
We convince ourselves that success looks like us having no fear, that it means we should never be scared. By definition then, failure should resemble bursting with courage and bravado. Or should it?
Clearly we need elements of strength and bravery when it comes to choosing change, but to achieve real and lasting change we must acknowledge one true fact: Change does not come from trying to remove or even ignore our fears, it can only really come by acknowledging them, allowing space for them to exist and then carrying on doing what we need to do.
So the question remains, if we can’t remove them what can we do to reduce the overwhelm of fear? How can we manage them so they don’t keep getting in our way?
When you feel scared it’s difficult to think clearly. So when you’re filled with fear and when you feel it rising in you, step away from what you’re doing, or where you are in that moment, and if possible get outside, go for a short walk, or turn on your favourite music – anything you can do to switch the energy of where you are right now.
Look at the facts
Pause and ask yourself ‘What is it that I’m most afraid of? What’s the outcome that I’m most scared of?’, and THEN ask is this really true or is this a story you created?
Many times, our fears and our worries are a direct result of the fact that we are simply not in control of everything in our lives. The secret is to focus on what’s immediately in front of you, on what you can control. When you regain that feeling of control you diminish the power your fears have over how you are feeling.
Stop trying to be perfect
Now this might seem a little obvious but absolute perfection doesn’t exist, yet we spend a lot of time trying to get things perfect, or at least to match what we think perfection should look like, to others. Life is messy, it’s complicated and setbacks will always happen. So put the effort in, do your best and then release it and let it go.
Journal it out
When we are worried, afraid or full of fear, writing down our thoughts can be the best way to get them out from inside our head. Journaling is the best way to re-organise what’s occupying the space inside our heads which in turn helps us avoid further panic. Journaling has the power to transform how you think, how you feel and how you behave. It gives you clarity at a time when you need it most. (I’ve attached a link to a PDF which contains some excellent journaling prompts to get you started below.)
Problem shared, problem halved
We are conditioned to believe that being unable to do it alone is a sign of weakness which I can assure you is complete rubbish. When we ask for help we are showing real strength. We were never meant to do this business of life alone — and isolation only serves to amplify our fears.
Reach out to someone who has been through what you’re going through, who may be a little further down the road than you, who can lend an ear so you don’t feel alone. Nobody should have to feel alone with their fears.
Fear of failure or fear of success?
There is no more sure way to fail than to never try. If you’re afraid to do something again because it didn’t work out the last time, figure out why it didn’t work, and try something different before you give up trying altogether. Each time teaches you something, learn from it and try again!
Use others as your motivation
Are you doing something that has never been done, or can you follow the footsteps of someone else who has accomplished it before you? Is there someone who inspires you that you could look to emulate or if possible could you speak with them and ask them what they did, how they achieved the success they did, how did they overcome their fears. Without stalking them you could look into the steps to success they followed and use them as your inspiration.
When integrating these ‘7 steps to managing your fears’, remember that the beautiful thing about fear is this: when we run to it, it runs away.
Feature image: Pexels
Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading change & transformation specialist and founder of the RESET for Change 3-month 1:1 private coaching programme.
To download the journal for greater clarity PDF with prompts to get you started click here
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