How to overcome debilitating fear.
Tempe, Arizona. –-(Ammoland.com)- I believe fear exists in everyone unless they are a sociopath. Yet even then it may exist in the fear of being caught.
The type of fear I will discuss isn't the type of piss-your-pants fear like you see in a horror movie, though some of the same ideas can apply there too. I'm talking about phobic, crippling fears that keep us from taking risks and reaching goals. In actuality, it's not so much the fear itself, but our response mechanisms to that fear.
I have worked through some incredibly challenging parts of life and business. Fear has paralyzed my actions before, and every so often I catch it trying to do so again. The trick to understanding fear based response mechanisms is to first realize when they are even occurring. Most people don't know what is holding them back or why.
Once they come to the realization that they themselves are what is holding them back and understand why, they are able to move forward rapidly or they can choose a different path that removes that confrontation with fear.
VERY few people are able to discuss the true fears that hold them back. Those few are much quicker to recognize that they have put themselves in a “fear cage.” That is my term for a false sense of reality that we place ourselves in to feel safer and avoid any related stimuli created by a fear. Another way to look at it is limiting ourselves to a comfortable mediocrity. This is a natural, reflexive response for most people. It's also the reason those people “can't” do something or attain a goal. As with so many other things, it starts with seeing the bars on the cage. The next step, as with those many other things, is realizing that since you built the cage, you are the only one that can free you from it.
There are no do overs, no mulligans. Hell, we are all going to be dead someday. Make your choice to live your life the way you want to. Remember; if you have a shitty life, it was your choices and your decisions that created it. If you're still alive, you have your chance to change it for the better. This is a long way of saying you must take responsibility for your life. Don't accept it, don't let someone hand it to you. Take it. It is YOURS to take.
I have worked up the following approach for fear based responses that hold me back from whatever goal or issue I am not able to deal with or accomplish. The approach below works for ME. It may not be as effective for YOU. Use it as a baseline, change as needed, salt for flavor. Or toss it entirely and do something else. In the interest of full disclosure, I do not sell anything related to these issues, I am not a therapist nor am a life coach or any other crap like that. (Ever see a life coach's car and wonder how they can help others with their life issues and yet can make enough money to not drive a dinged up piece of shit with a damn door magnet selling their life help bs on it? Now that's funny, I don't care who you are!)
Is there a fear based problem? If anything scares you or modifies your actions, the answer is probably in the affirmative. Just recognizing there is an issue is a big step. Rarely do we want to admit our fears or even know they exist. The symptoms maybe obvious to others yet completely shielded to us in order to keep us feeling safe or in the comfort of our fear cage where everything is status quo. From abusive relationships to horrible jobs to poor match performance and everything in between, learning to recognize fear based problems is as big as seeing the world in color after a life time of monochrome.
I know this isn’t fun stuff to kick around the mental gymnasium but when is your 8 tenths of a second? It could be today or 50 years from now. What you do with that unknown amount of time is up to you. Are you going to enjoy it or live in your cage?
WAYS TO IDENTIFY A FEAR BASED PROBLEM:
Use of keywords in normal conversation – would have, should have or could have done X. Bullshit. Why didn’t you do X? Listen to your reasons. If someone else said those reasons to you, would you call “bs?” Is that really why you didn't, or were you afraid? Find that out and you won’t ever say those words again.
Avoidance of anything without a conscious, reasoned logical choice being made. Do you find yourself trying to change the topic when that subject comes up? Does it make you uncomfortable to go to the place or be near the person or object involved? Why?
Defensiveness of anything without a conscious, reasoned logical choice being made. Are you getting unreasonably defensive way too quickly? Perhaps you feel a little guilty because you capitulated to fear.
Aggressiveness towards anything without a conscious, reasoned logical choice being made. Sometimes aggression is the “fight” component of “fight or flight,” which are the two basic, fundamental responses to fear.
Rationalization of anything without a conscious, reasoned logical choice being made. When you rationalize why, would you except those rationalizations from someone else? We all have that one friend with no filter(if you don't have that one friend, it's because you're that one friend). The one who will tell somebody what they think, consequences be damned. They're the one that answers “yes” when their wife asks if the dress makes them look fat. What would that friend say when you give them the rationalizations?
The point is to get you to think about what you're doing. Be honest in your appraisal. Does it sound a little hippy-dippy? Sure, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water. You have to be honest and not bullshit yourself if you're going to do this. Why did you really snap at somebody that brought up going to the gym? Is it because you're tired, or did you get unreasonably aggressive because you're afraid of the embarrassment you think you'll experience?
Now that a fear based response has been identified, this is the process I use to root out the cause and concquer it.
Take out three pieces of paper and a pen or a pencil. Turn off all electronics, phones and isolate yourself for a few minutes, hours or however long it takes to work on your fear.
On your first piece of paper write down, draw or articulate in someway your random thoughts, ideas, behaviors, triggers – anything related to the issue in any pattern or order. This is your mental basket of all the related crap to a fear. Write the fear's name or word down if you think you know what it is. You may come to find that it’s true base is something else as you are writing. This is your fear storming. Like brainstorming but different. Now when you believe you have everything down move to step two. Just remember you can jump back to step one any time you want.
Do an internal 3rd person facts based analysis of the situation and best/worst case outcomes. In English, this means take a step back and remove your personal pride and emotions from the equation. Treat everything you just wrote down as if it is about someone else. Now start thinking about the best and worst possible outcomes if this fear is addressed.
This starts with a very simple pro's and con's list. Take sheet 2 and write down your fear on one line at the top.
If it takes more than one simple sentence you most likely don’t really know what the problem is and need to go work on sheet 1 more.
When you can write it in one sentence or even just one word, then draw a line down the center of the page.
Since we are human it is always easiest to write the negatives down first but since we ARE changing the way we do things in life, write the positives down in the first column and negatives in the second.
Here are a couple of positives to focus on when you're filling out the first column. This isn't an all encompassing list, it's just a couple ideas to help you jump start your positive thinking.
- Will you be happier? Why? What does that do for you? Will you feel great because you accomplished a challenge that you didn’t know you were capable of? That is a REASON. That is a benefit. That is what you write down.
- Will you be healthier? What does that do for you? (I will be able to see the sparkle in my grand kids eyes if I live longer. I will be ready for swimsuit season. I will see my toes while standing up and won't need a mirror.)
- Will you have less stress? How come? What would that feel like? (I will not have the stress of X hanging over my head anymore.)
From Feelings like more self confidence to real world financial items like a pay raise, write it down.
As human beings, we tend to focus on them, so I won't go into great detail. Just be honest, and write down those potential negative outcomes and what they mean. Will you lose money? Will you feel shame at losing a match? Will you be embarrassed to go to the gym for the first time?
Spend some time analyzing the benefits until you have refined them and believe you truly understand what they are. Then do the same with the negatives or potential downsides. When you are finished, look at both lists critically and logically and validate or invalidate each item from a rational point of view. This is one of the toughest parts of the process. Removing your pride from the equation and being able to honestly assess each point. With out the courage required to be brutally honest with yourself, you can't break out of the fear cage you've constructed.
I believe when you have finished that last process, you will come to your own conclusion and will already know what the first step you need to take will be. Write it down on Sheet 3 and then write the rest of the steps down that are in your head. That first step is not something you most likely want to do. Suck it up cupcake. It isn't supposed to be easy. It's supposed to be worth it.
You have now identified the fear that is holding you back and you have a plan of action. When do you execute the plan you've come up with? Now. The only answer is “now.” There will never be a perfect time. There are always competing interests for your time, effort, energy and money. There will always be a good reason to procrastinate. The only response is “now.” Go, get off your ass (physically, mentally or both) and do step one. Ignore the internal and external voices of doubt and go. Determination, iron clad will and steel in your spine exist inside you the moment you decide they do. There's no secret to it. There's no magic pill or prize in the bottom of a box of cereal. You already have the courage, determination and intensity of will to do it. Use them.
Step one is your springboard to building confidence and you will find that step two is always easier than step one was. The rest will probably fall into place as you move forward to a more enjoyable, profitable, productive, non-fear based life.
A thought for you from my life: Nearly everything I have ever been afraid of, after whatever action I choose to do to break out of that cage, has never seemed as monumental a problem or issue afterward as it did beforehand. The six headed, fire breathing dragon usually turns out to be a gecko with indigestion. Always remember that life is a choice. It’s yours to do what you want with it.
Boring people who do nothing with their lives end up as statistics not history lessons.
In order to achieve everything you are capable of, you must learn to identify and destroy your fear cages. At the risk of sounding like a life coach again, I honestly believe every single person is capable of doing it if they honestly assess their fears and execute their plan of attack with determination.
I have had some amazing people in my life help me out and just want to do the same for others. Please contact me if you ever have a question anytime at [email protected]
Predator Tactical LLC provides innovative firearms, accessories, instructional videos, and professional firearms training throughout the world. Visit: www.predatortactical.com .