Tuesday, 20 May 2014

How to...Get Over Your Fear and Grab Life by the Balls

Today I want to talk about my biggest fear. If someone asks me what I'm most scared of, you might get my standard answer: bugs. But that's not technically true. Whilst a beetle or spider is likely to render me a crying mess, the one thing that strikes fear in my heart on a daily basis is failure.

A couple of weeks ago I had one of those delicious conversations. The ones that last until 3am and leave you feeling a bit vulnerable because you've sort of figured out something. And that was the day I decided to start blogging again.

For as long as I can remember I've been a quitter. Not out of laziness, or lack of ability, or even attention span (which can be limited, especially when 'hangry'). I quit things when the going gets tough because I'm scared. And I would rather kid myself that I could've done something than try my absolute best and discover that I can't.

In the last 6 months alone, I have taken an evening class in philosophy, looked for a new job, started learning graphic design, started learning mandarin, started writing a book, considered investing in bitcoin, and developed an unhealthy obsession with pinterest. All as a way of hiding from what I really love and what I really want to do, which is blog. Blogging and cooking are my two biggest hobbies and passions. And I nearly let them go because I was afraid to try.

Here's what I've learnt:-

1. Face your fear head on. One of the biggest things that helped me during this process was asking what I was truly scared of. What did I honestly think would change if I tried really hard at something and failed? Was I scared of being labelled as stupid? Was I afraid that my friends and loved ones would change their opinion of me and not hang around? Realising that even if I did mess up, the same people would be by my side really helped.

2. Don't think other people are any different. When people started saying to me 'Oh, everyone feels like that' I used to get mad. I didn't want to be the same as other people! I wanted to be better! But realising that everyone gets scared and feels exposed sometimes helps me make sense and understand my emotions. Fear is natural! It means you're growing. I hate the phrase 'feel the fear and do it anyway', but trust me- if you just notice them and keep going, they fade. Admit to yourself that you're terrified, and that's ok. Reading about famous people who've failed is also very liberating!

3. Keep a record of what you do, not what the results are. Instead of focusing on the outcomes of something- 'I messed up that meeting', 'I forgot the milk', focus on the input. You prepped really hard for that meeting. You wrote 'get milk' on your hand. That way, you can sleep well knowing you've done what you can. The business world, especially, is full of things beyond your control. There is so much honour in trying.

4. Be nice to yourself. If you spoke to your friends the way you speak to yourself you wouldn't have any friends left. I watched this video on self-compassion and even though it's a bit hippy the message is good. I keep a stash of emergency compliments in my head for when I'm really scared. If I'm about to walk into a really big presentation, I'll pull one out totally unrelated. I tell myself 'you have nice hair'. Ok, now I sound really weird. Seriously. Stop calling yourself 'stupid', 'fat', 'horrible'...you wouldn't speak to anyone else like that! Try and silence your inner critic by looking for the evidence to disprove what you are saying.

5. Ask for help on the little things. Part of my humongous fear of failure (which actually has a scientific name- atychiphobia) is a fear of asking for help. Practise what you're afraid of on little things. I ask people to pass me things. I ask someone to proof read something. I ask people's feedback- just to practise hearing people helping me and not feeling it is a reflection on my ability.

6. Just do your thing.You have to be yourself. Everyone else is already taken- and you're pretty damn awesome.

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