Overcoming Fear

As human beings, we all experience challenges and struggles in our lives. Sometimes these moments feel overwhelming, and when they do, it's natural to seek support and guidance from others. However, asking for support can be a daunting task for many of us. We may feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit that we can't handle everything on our own, or we may fear being judged or rejected. The fear of asking for support prevents us from getting what we need and ultimately hinders our personal and professional growth.

My personal experience with fear is vast. As a self-described “adventurous person”, I am usually willing to give something new a try. What I have learned though is that my fear often puts an asterisk in that description: adventurous person*. My asterisk shows up in all areas of life, and always at the most inopportune times. When I want to ask my boss for more money, when I have a disagreement with someone I love/respect, when I get passed over for exciting opportunities, or when I turn down exciting opportunities. Fear loves to put an asterisk on my big carpe diem moments. And fear also enjoys adding an asterisk to seemingly benign moments like asking for support with a professional project or challenge. 

Where does fear come from? All of us have past experiences that have been interpreted by our sympathetic nervous system as dangerous. It is the animal part of us. Our fight or flight. The challenge is when our bodies interpret asking for money the same way as it interprets a grizzly bear chasing after us. The fear of rejection is so powerful that our bodies simply shut down. 

It can cause us to isolate ourselves, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. It can also prevent us from learning new skills and developing our strengths, and limits our ability to see the possibilities, including our inherent safety, in any situations that trigger the fight or flight response. It is the single biggest inhibitor to our personal and professional growth.

So, how can we overcome our fears? Here are some tips that I have found helpful:

Acknowledge your Fear: The first step in overcoming fear is to acknowledge that it exists. Recognize that asking for support is not a sign of weakness but rather an act of strength.

Pause & Assess the Situation: When you catch yourself loading up with fear, take a pause. Breathe in deep and exhale it all out. Then ask yourself: am I safe? Unless there is a grizzly bear chasing after you, the answer is, most likely, yes.

Reframe the Situation: Instead of looking at asking for what we need as a weakness, try to reframe it as an opportunity to grow and connect. Being vulnerable allows others to be vulnerable too. Who knows… you could be helping someone else by asking them to help you. 

Get comfortable with Vulnerability: It's normal to feel vulnerable when asking for help. Embrace your vulnerability as a strength and a way to connect with others on a deeper level.

Identify your Inner Circle: Make a list of the people in your life whom you trust and can turn to for support. This can include family, friends, colleagues, or professionals such as a therapist or coach.

Celebrate your Successes: Overcoming fear is a gradual process. Celebrate small successes along the way. Tap into your Inner Circle and share your latest achievement. This may feel silly at first, but it is one of the most powerful ways to tell yourself that you matter. 

Asking for what we need is one of the most powerful ways we show ourselves that we matter. It can be scary, and it can also create a connection - to yourself and to others. We all need support from others at times, and there's no shame in asking for what you need. By acknowledging our fears, reframing the situation, identifying our support system, and practicing vulnerability, we can remove the asterisk from our adventures and receive the support we need to thrive. 

Photo Credit:  Jaqueline Fritz on Unsplash

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