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Tame Your Fears Workbk Cover 2016

How to Tame Your Fears in 10 Minutes or Less

woman holding a featherThere’s no such thing as a quick fix, but I make an exception when it comes to fear.

As emotions go, fear is pretty straightforward. It’s a normal, healthy response to real or perceived danger.

Fortunately, most of the time when we’re afraid, the danger isn’t real. We’re afraid of things that aren’t going to kill us. Like public speaking.

As long as fear doesn’t prevent us from doing the things we need and want to do, all is well.

Grab a free copy of the Tame Your Fears workbook.

But often, because our innate response to perceived threats is the same as our response to real ones, fear gets in the way. And that’s why the vast majority of fears aren’t adaptive; they don’t protect us from anything. Instead, they prevent us from living our lives.

So why can’t we just convince ourselves that the perceived threats aren’t real, and therefore, nothing to be afraid of?

Because we’re too smart for that. We have a need to protect ourselves from any possible discomfort, so we worry ourselves into a frenzy that, strangely enough, looks a lot like sitting around and doing nothing.

Fear can be a handy excuse.

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Are you ready?

If I told you it was possible to tame your fears in ten minutes or less, would you want to know how? Would you still want to know if it meant you’d be free to do the thing you’ve been afraid of? To take a risk and go outside your comfort zone?

In other words, you’ll be uncomfortable, but not very afraid. How’s that sound? I’m not being facetious. I really want you to think about it.

If you follow the strategies I’m about to share, your fear will diminish to the point where you’ll no longer have an excuse to be stuck. You’ll be free to take action … and that will feel pretty uncomfortable.

But, discomfort is not the same as fear.

Fear is what you feel when you’re about to take action. Discomfort is what you experience while you’re taking action. So, discomfort comes along with the doing and it’s just your way of pointing out (to yourself) that something new and different is happening. It isn’t the alarm bell that fear is.

If any of this sounds scary as you think about moving forward, remember: you’ll have the tools to tame your fears each and every time they show up.

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Moving Past Fear

Thirteen years ago I quit my full-time job to start my business as a life coach. I had no clue what I was doing as a business owner. I was terrified pretty much every day for months. The fear wore me out. It eroded my excitement and passion for the new life I was creating.

I knew that if fear was holding me back, I wouldn’t be able to help myself, let alone my clients.

What I’m about to share didn’t take me ten minutes, because it didn’t come to me as a happy little list of strategies. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say there was a lot of trial and error. And, tears.

It was all worth it, because fear no longer runs my show. It’s not a barrier or an excuse. I still feel afraid sometimes, but instead of a reason to stop, fear has become a part of my process for moving forward.

Imagine that. Fear as a way through instead of a dead end.

Since figuring this out, I’ve not only persisted as an entrepreneur, which is scary enough, but I also:

  • Completed a solo, static line skydive
  • Studied Kyudo (Japanese archery) and successfully tested for my first belt
  • Took belly dancing lessons for a year in secret so I could surprise my husband at our wedding
  • Presented a TEDx talk to nearly 1,000 people

I’m not an adrenaline junkie by any means. Heck, I’m not even an extrovert. I just had some stuff I really wanted to do.

Learning to manage fear has been the single most important factor in my success and my overall level of happiness.

When I tamed my fears, some pretty amazing things happened.

 

  • I took risks much more easily. Instead of always “trying” to do things, I just did them.
  • I gained confidence. The more action I took, the more I saw what I was capable of.
  • Without fear in the way, I could tend to the real obstacles instead of dealing with straw men. This made me stronger and more successful.
  • I felt more at peace when I realized I was managing my fears instead of being controlled by them.
  • Creative thought and inspiration returned. Without fear chattering at me all day, I could hear my great ideas.
  • My body felt better. Letting fear run the show was STRESSFUL, and we all know what stress does to the body.
  • I felt powerful. I tamed something that used to derail me.

If any one of that sounds good to you, let’s go for it.

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First, schedule ten minutes in your calendar sometime during the next few days.

I recommend doing one ten-minute session per day for a week. That’ll take you through all the strategies and you’ll see which ones are most effective for you. Even if no writing is necessary for a particular strategy, it’s helpful to journal a little after each experience.

Keep in mind that the goal isn’t to eradicate fear. That’s not possible or even desirable. Fear is a helpful guide. The goal is to diminish the fear enough to remove its grip so you can take action.

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7 Fear Tamers You Can Do in 10 Minutes (or Less)

 

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1. NAME ITa writing exercise

When you name a thing, you tame it. Take ten minutes for this writing exercise. Write down your specific fear and rate its intensity on a scale of 1-10 based on how you’ve been feeling lately. What exactly are you afraid of? Dig deeper than just “fear of failure” or “fear of success.” You may have to peel the layers back a bit.

If you have more than one fear, that’s ok; note them all and just be sure each one is a true fear. You’ll know a true fear by how your body reacts. Listen to your body for the fear response, which is typically felt as a tightening or ache in the gut, heart, and/or throat. You may experience different sensations. Name them along with your fears.

2. WORK IT – a writing exercise

Call its bluff. Every fear is commingled with thoughts or beliefs that are just begging to be challenged. Byron Katie’s “The Work” begins with the question, “Is it true?” Since whatever you’re afraid of hasn’t happened yet, it’s not true. That realization alone might do the trick, but I bet you’ll need to go a step further if the thing you’re afraid of is a real possibility. Work it out mentally. Take ten minutes to write out the following:

I’m afraid that ___

And, if that were to happen, I would…

And then I would…

Imagining obstacles is a technique called mental contrasting and it can enhance goal attainment, especially when paired with thoughts about how to overcome the obstacles. (Check out Gabriele Oettingen’s W.O.O.P. strategy.)

3. HEAR IT – experiential/writing

Consistently important emotions that aren’t acknowledged tend to get bigger and louder. Imagine your fear is a guide, trying to tell you something. Engage your fear in a ten-minute conversation and hear what it has to say. (Pick one fear at a time to avoid cross talk.)

Here are some things you may want to ask the fear:

  • What is your job, or role, in my life?
  • What do you need me to pay attention to?
  • How can we find a way to tend to the things you’re concerned about and still move forward?
  • If there was a new job for you, what could it be?

4. CONTAIN IT – experiential

Feel your fear, but contain it. Don’t let it leak out all day, buzzing in the background. Schedule a *daily 5-Minute Freak Out (preferably not too close to bedtime).

During this small block of time, go ahead and feel the fear. Notice the sensations in your body and the thoughts running through your head, but only for five minutes.

If your fear pops up outside of that time, don’t give in. Tell the fear you’ll pay attention to it at the next designated freak-out session. You’re practicing being in the driver’s seat each time you set boundaries around the fear. Containing the fear diminishes its power.

*You won’t need to do this daily. Once may be enough. And ten minutes would be WAY too long.

5. FLIP ITa writing exercise

Where there’s fear, there’s also excitement. Anything worth having in life has both fear and excitement attached to it. Maybe you’ve spent so much time on the fear side that it’s become your default mode. Flip that fear and start building a vision around what excites you. Spend more time on the excitement side, and the fear will diminish.

Set a timer for ten minutes and practice flipping your fears. What’s on the other side of that fear that could bring you satisfaction or even joy?

6. DROP IT – experiential

Consciously lay the fear down. Put it aside by quickly choosing something else to do, preferably something physical. Set your timer for 10 minutes and dance to your favorite music. Or go outside and run as fast as you can.

Any fear reactions in your body will be interpreted as physical activity by your brain. Nothing scary to see here. Just exercising. Move along.

Another great way to drop the fear for a little while is to do a guided meditation, where you’re led through a process that quiets your sympathetic system (the one that prepares you to fight, flee, or freeze).

IMPORTANT: The “Drop It” strategy is only effective in combination with one or more of the other strategies. If you keep turning away from a persistent fear, you’ll just feed it.

7. SHUT IT (down) – visualization

There’s nothing that’ll shut fear down faster than a good visualization session, provided you do it correctly. It turns out if you only do outcome visualization (thinking about how good it’ll feel to achieve your desired goal), you’re less likely to take action. Instead, try visualizing the process.

Think about your goal or dream – the one you’d be more excited about if you weren’t so afraid. Pick one possible step toward that goal and do a 10-minute visualization, picturing the process of accomplishing that one step. Picture going through the motions in as much detail as possible. Imagine how you would feel during the process and after.

When you envision accomplishing the actions you desire, your brain responds as if you’re actually accomplishing them. Neural pathways are created that prime the brain to respond that same way when you do set out to tackle your action steps.

That’s it! Now check in with the fears you named. How would you rate their intensity on a scale of 1-10?

Once your fear diminishes enough to overcome any paralysis you might have experienced, take action. Any small step toward your goal will do. More action = less fear.

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Recap

 

  • Fear doesn’t require any attention unless it’s consistently getting in your way.
  • Discomfort and fear are not synonymous.
  • When you tame your fears, you get to experience discomfort. (That’s right, you get to. You’re moving forward, taking a risk, and growing!)
  • Eliminating fear isn’t necessary; you just need to diminish it.
  • When you diminish your fear, you’re free to take action. And when you take action, you’ll be less afraid.

Repeat your favorite strategies as needed. If you practice regularly, you’ll find that you move past fear more quickly. Fear will be a blip, not an excuse.

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What’s in Store for You

 

  • More confidence
  • Resourcefulness
  • Action
  • Growth
  • Creativity

I think you’re really going to like who you are when fear isn’t running your show.

When you download the workbook, you’ll also get a PDF version of this blog post as a 5-page guide. Not sure you’ll get around to this on your own? Join my next 3-day FEAR LESS LIVE MORE challenge.

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DEBBIE LACY is the author and creator of Ready, Set, Manifest!™, a guiding paradigm for people who are ready to take a leap in their lives but haven’t yet taken a step. Debbie’s private Facebook group is a place where people can get the tools and support to manage their fears, take action, and have the life they’ve been dreaming about.

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