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Every time we choose safety, we reinforce fear - Cheri Huber

>> 25 February 2009

Let's say you are a starter.

You have this great project of bringing creativity to your workplace. You decide to tackle the beast with baby steps and start with an informal
creative workshop among close colleagues.

You have decided about the content and activities of this first workshop. You have set a date and invited everyone. Everyone has confirmed their attendance.

And then FEAR sets in.
You start doubting.
You start thinking you will fail.
You start thinking that your colleagues will find your activities ridiculous.

We human beings still have some instinctual fears.

We have quite a few conditioned fears (if your mother was afraid of spiders and jumped and screamed each time she saw one, it is very unlikely that you love arachnids).

We also have the sometimes unfortunate gift of anticipation. We anticipate terrible things that might happen -- things we have heard about, read about or seen on TV. Or things that we simply imagine could happen (because as starters we have a wild imagination with tons of ideas of what could happen to us, right?)

Fear is a contradictory feeling as it can be exciting as well. Just look at the people who love horror movies or roller coaster rides.

So you have this workshop in a month time and you want to silence the doubting and fearing voices telling you that this is all ridiculous and that you will become the laughing stock of the company.

Fear extinction involves creating a conditioned response that counters the conditioned fear response.
Most behavioral therapies for fear extinction focus on exposure.
For instance, therapy for a person with a fear of snakes might involve visiting a snake farm repeatedly and taking small steps toward touching one.

When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. -- Audrey Lorde

Eight Practical Tips

Below is a summary of the article "What are you afraid of?: 8 secrets that make fear disappear" which offers these tips for dealing with everyday fears:

  1. It doesn't matter why you're scared. Knowing why you've developed a particular fear doesn't do much to help you overcome it, and it delays your progress in areas that will actually help you become less afraid. Stop trying to figure it out.

  2. Learn about the thing you fear. Uncertainty is a huge component of fear: Developing an understanding of what you're afraid of goes a long way toward erasing that fear.

  3. Train. If there's something you're afraid to try because it seems scary or difficult, start small and work in steps. Slowly building familiarity with a scary subject makes it more manageable.

  4. Find someone who is not afraid. If there's something you're afraid of, find someone who is not afraid of that thing and spend time with that person. Take her along when you try to conquer your fear -- it'll be much easier.

  5. Talk about it. Sharing your fear out loud can make it seem much less daunting.

  6. Play mind games with yourself. If you're afraid of speaking in front of groups, it's probably because you think the audience is going to judge you. Try imagining the audience members naked -- being the only clothed person in the room puts you in the position of judgment.

  7. Stop looking at the grand scheme. Think only about each successive step. If you're afraid of heights, don't think about being on the fortieth floor of a building. Just think about getting your foot in the lobby.

  8. Seek help. Fear is not a simple emotion. If you're having trouble overcoming your fear on your own, find a professional to help you. There are lots of treatments for fear out there, and no good reason not to try them under the guidance of someone with training and experience.
Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive --
the risk to be alive and express what we really are. -- Don Miguel Ruiz
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you
really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you
think you cannot do. -- Eleanor Roosevelt

I will report on how I managed to silence my doubts and fears
and the outcome of the first creative workshop in about a month...

Source: How fear works


Anonymous,  25 February 2009 at 23:47  

I love #1. People get stuck on this one a great deal-I know I do. we all are so analytical, that we think in order to move forward we have to know why- this is silly and it is the main reason WHY we never move forward! Thanks for the 8 tips Mimi!

Michelle Haseltine 26 February 2009 at 02:19  

Fear has stopped me from taking advantages of so many opportunities. Loved this post! Great advice! This is one I am keeping and revisiting. Good luck in silencing your fears!

Anonymous,  26 February 2009 at 02:22  

Hi Mimi,

I love the opening quote - that choosing safety is also choosing fear. And the practical tips are great,especially learning about the thing you fear. Great post!

Mindful Mimi 27 February 2009 at 21:33  

@ Jay: It took me a while to get down to the bottom of this. It is valid for any emotion you're having. It doesn't matter WHY you're having it. People should accept it instead of judging, accusing the emotion or the reasons for it. If something makes you feel upset, then that is so and the other should try to focus on making you less upset.

@ Michelle: Glad the post helped you. Fear is a funny thing. It is present everywhere and it often the start of so many misunderstandings. If we all just had the courage to admit it, the world would be a better place for it.

@ Daphne: The opening quote says it all. We choose safety all the time. Safety can be anything from routine over acceptance to silence. We should try to leap a bit more and I am sure the nets will appear.

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