By STEPHANIE HO
Outdoor activities excite me, and I am a frequent trekker at Gasing Hill, Petaling Jaya. I trek the hills alone, although I am sometimes accompanied by my dog.
Recently, there were separate crime cases (which happened on the same day) involving a snatch thief whereby a blogger got hurt, and an abduction/car theft incident took place.
Because of these incidents, and the heightened feeling of wariness, I began to make excuses not to pursue my regular weekend activity.
After weeks of not sweating it out, I eventually pushed myself to go to Gasing Hill. It was yet another satisfying fitness experience—the only bummer being that I fell and sprained my weak ankle (yet again).
I noticed that there was an increased level of security in the area. Police officers were out in large numbers, and most of the trekkers appeared to be women going solo.
The realisation dawned on me then, that I had let fear take over my favourite routine. In addition, I could have mitigated my skittishness by levelling-up precautions, for example, by running with a buddy or in a group.
And that got me thinking, am I creating fear and inferiority in myself, even in my professional capacity?
Don’t look behind you
In my opinion, if you allow fear to fester in your life, it would eventually take the reins and control you.
Conquering your fears on the other hand, can elevate innovation and future successes.
Self-doubt and fears create many disadvantages, both personally and professionally, making one feel inadequate, overwhelmed and insecure.
The bottom line is that, it is your own personal battle.
When you experience dreadful self-doubt, you simply don’t do the things you need to do, are afraid to try new activities, and lose the motivation to perform. Your defensive actions to avoid failure can limit growth and change.
Flexing those muscles of courage
You need to learn to understand your doubts and get beyond it.
Here are six ways to grow your “courage muscles” because bravery in overcoming your fears guarantee success, and you can never succeed without it.
1. Keep calm and be confident
Find ways to relax and distract yourself. This can help draw you away from negativity and refocus your attention on the positive aspects of a situation. Put your mind into a realistic and objective state towards figuring out the best option.
2. Worrying would only get you so far
Worry can be like a bug which will not go away. One of the ways to manage self-worry is to reason with yourself about the facts and possible consequences.
A personal bad habit that I have is worrying about what others would think.
We are innately social beings who want to be liked, and we are wired to conform to certain actions or behaviour to decrease the risk of criticism, disapproval, or professional rejection.
Too often, we are submissive in giving in to fears especially in the culture of authority and pleasing others.
It is not that you shouldn’t be mindful of what others think, but you should not let others simply dictate your actions.
3. Seek out opinion and support
Ask for advice and coaching from a trusted peer or a mentor.
They can help to pace your thoughts in a more objective manner.
4 Self-affirmation: question your doubt
Ask yourself this: Are they realistic, or are you overreacting?
Your inner voice exists as a self-protection mechanism and can possibly become your worst critic.
“You would never be good enough.”
“Do not embarrass yourself.”
Take baby steps when getting out of your comfort zone, and give yourself a chance (or more!) to try new things and to squash your fears. Take a leap of faith. And at the same time, challenge yourself by mentally preparing for the worst that could happen.
5. Know your why
Your actions are generally motivated by the intentions or purpose behind them. It is easier to be brave when you are clear about why you need to take a particular risk or a challenging route.
Take for example my personal experience of an upcoming presentation with a big client, and being paralysed with a fear of public speaking.
Despite being an extrovert, I do have the worst case of anxiety and jitters when it comes to presentations. But, the reason for overcoming this fear (of public speaking) is clear: to close that deal or to lose it. Knowing that very fact pushes me to pace myself and to face my fear.
Self-doubt can be your biggest enemy in the workplace. So, learning how to manage it is crucial for your career success.
As Norman Vincent Peale once said, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”
Sometimes you simply need to give a thing a try in order to overcome the fear that holds you back.
6. Reframe failure
Yes, previous failures and “falls” may have left some pain and scratches. It will heal. Be optimistic and get your positive mindset up and running. Be persistent, and be better the next time around.
“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” —Sir Richard Branson
Living bravely is about forging your own path.
Wouldn’t you agree that life is best lived without regrets and less worries?
How to truly conquer your anxiety
We (unfortunately) live in a culture of fear that constantly bombards us with reasons to play it safe and
to be on guard. This is why we must be vigilant about discerning between the fears that are serving
us and those which are holding us back and keeping us from taking the very actions that would move
us forward and open doors to the opportunities that we want.
Here are some steps you can take to overcome fear in your professional life:
- Ask for help or feedback on the areas you can improve on(so as not to appear weak or incompetent)
- Have a say during brainstorming activities (so as not to appear ineffective)
- Share your suggestions/ideas to a superior (without undermining his/her capabilities or authority)
- Put yourself out there as though you are the best candidate for the project/job (without appearing arrogant or overbearing)
- Each of these actions require you to conquer your fear in some way, large or small. This is what being brave is all about—taking action despite the presence of fear, the perceived personal risk, the uncertainty of the outcome and the vulnerability that you will feel in the process.
Stephanie enjoys connecting with people. She is curious about new ventures and views life in a positive manner. She is an avid runner who is training for her next marathon.
Prethiba is passionate about impacting people through the written word. She believes that our lives are solely written by us, and thus the power to change for the better lies with us.