Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Understanding fear and how to conquer it

"Change always involves facing a fear"

Ever wonder why some people can jump out an airplane or go bungy jumping and others won't cross the street without looking both ways.... twice?    We all have different tolerances for fear.   Some people are natural born risk takers and most of us tend to be somewhat cautious.  And its natural that as we age our risk tolerance declines.  

We've all dreamed of making big changes in our lives that would bring us wealth, success and happiness.    And yet so few make even minor changes.  Why is that?

Here is my theory...

It's like when we were kids and admired the kids who would jump off the high diving board at the local swimming pool.   But I can't recall one kid who just climbed up and jumped at the first thought of it.   No, what happened was we gradually worked our way up.  First with jumping in from the side of the pool.   When that became fun we graduated up to the low diving board.   With repetition that also became fun.   Finally with knees trembling we jumped off the high diving board.   A few more successful jumps and it turned into fun.   Then we had earned the right to tease those who hadn't progressed like we had.  

We don't do scary stuff right off the bat.   We work our way up to it.   It is usually a slow and gradual process.  Let's use public speaking as an example since it is usually referred to as one the greatest fears most people have.  

If you have a great fear of standing up in front of group to deliver a talk there would be no point in anyone saying to you ....just do it and after awhile you will lose your fear and eventually you will love it.    It just wouldn't happen and we all know it.    The fear would be too great.   That's why in my book I recommended first becoming a 'public praiser'.   That's the girl who stands up and proposes a toast to someone who has accomplished or is celebrating something.   At first doing that is uncomfortable but not totally scary.  Gradually you can work your way up to saluting someone in a bigger setting.  Each step of the way you are working your way up in the uncomfortable zone but not totally in fear.  That's how we conquer fears.  

"the uncomfortable zone is what I call the Golden Zone because when it comes to conquering fears it is where the gold is"

So now my little diagram above makes sense, right?    The Golden Zone is where you feel uncomfortable but not paralized with fear.   Gradually you expand your Golden Zone and as you do that your comfort zone expands.   You grow.  Simple!

But wait there's more....

It gets easier if when you are in the Golden Zone you look at your uncomfortableness as curiosity.   Self talk like....I wonder what it would be like for me to make the toast at my friends birthday party.   I wonder what it would be like for me to stand up and congratulate my boss for her recent promotion or accomplishment.   I wonder what it would be like.........

Staying curious can change your focus from slight fear to wonderment. 

One more thing....if you are not growing you are shrinking.   As we age its somewhat natural to take less chances and our world begins to shrink as we fall deeper into the safety of our comfort zone.   The zest for life is replace by a growing boredom and sameness.   Doesn't sound like fun to me.   I'm not sure if I'm ready to go sky diving yet but I am going para-sailing when I get back to Mexico!  (that would be in my Golden Zone).  And I'm getting really curious about the experience. I think I'll take my camera and post some pictures for you.

P.S.   If you are feeling a little uncomfortable with what you are doing in your life there is a damn good chance you are in your Golden Zone...enjoy the experience because it won't be long and it will turn into fun.  Lucky you!


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