A Coaching Power Tool created by Porntip Jakwichtamrong
(Leadership Coaching, THAILAND)
Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.
Fear is a basic survival mechanism. It’s an emotion occurring in response to a perceived threat. Common fears include fear of death, the future, change, intimacy, being a failure, being alone, making mistakes etc.
Fear has negative connotations associated with it. Even though it is the natural instinct that has kept us alive since the pre-historical time, we often overlook the positive side of fear. Deborah Battersby, in her article The Positive Power of Fear outlines benefits of fear as helping us better prepared and get ready for future events, motivating us to overcome fear itself and assisting us in developing courage to face the situations. This kind of fear is then considered healthy.
Unhealthy fear is when fear takes over and consumes us. It can cause us to react in a fight-or-flight manner. We overreact and become angry, aggressive or argumentative when we are in “fight” mode. In “flight” mode, we opt to escape so we can avoid facing the reality. David Richo, in his book When Love Meets Fear suggests,
When we act because of fear, a cognitive deficit can occur. You start making errors in judgment and losing your intuition. You lose your perspective and the confidence to face your own reality.
Courage as defined by Merriam-Webster is mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. It is the ability to confront and respond to our fear. Being courageous means you move forward even when you are afraid and still have fear by redirecting the energy towards something more important to us than fear itself.
Paul Tillich, in his book Courage to Be suggests that courage is self affirmation.
Fear can be faced, analyzed, attacked, endured. One can act upon it, and in acting upon it participate in it – even if in the form of struggle. In this way one can take it into one’s self-affirmation.
We can develop courage through acknowledging, understanding and responding to fear. Having courage is not about getting rid of fear. Instead, we acknowledge and allow ourselves to fully experience the fear. Admit that we are afraid. Be mindful and pay attention to our feelings by allowing ourselves to feel the fear that is happening.
Richo suggests using visualization to assist in acknowledging fear. By imagining yourself as a lightning rod and fear is the lightning bolt that is striking you, then observe how fear moves through your mind and body.
Once acknowledged, we then seek to understand the fear. Find out where it originates, internally or externally where others are fearful on our behalf. Explore how it serves us positively and negatively. We will realize how fear benefits us and how it gets in the way by limiting and interrupting us. Recognize if the fear has become excessive to a point where it distorts the reality of what could happen.
Then, allow ourselves to respond instead of react to fear. Reacting is getting into fight-or-flight mode of overreacting or avoiding. Instead, Opt to respond by embracing fear, letting go of fear and redirecting the energy towards something more meaningful to us.
Richo suggests we can embrace fear by using an affirmation like
I open myself to all that waits me. I am defenseless and resourceful in the face of all that may come my way.
Joy Holland, in her article Embrace Fear to Transform Your Life suggests we embrace fear with gratitude
Thank you fear for being present. My heart is happy to see you here because now I know this is a golden opportunity for me to open my heart farther to grow. Thank you Fear.
We can also allow ourselves to let go of the negative or excessive fear that doesn’t serve us well. Fear that is holding us back and stops us from moving forward. Give ourselves permission to let go of it. Practicing mindfulness and various meditation techniques can support you in letting go of fear.
Find ways to redirect the energy towards something more meaningful like overcoming the fear or taking steps to get closer to the outcome that we want. Overcome your fear by integrating yourself with what you are fearful of. Many people are afraid of speaking in public. One way to overcome the fear is to integrate yourself with what you are afraid of. Ask yourself what you can do to integrate yourself? The answer may be that you can start off by watching videos of people who are very good public speakers. You can learn how to structure your speech properly including tips and tricks on how to make your speech interesting. You can join Toastmasters or other social groups and create yourself an opportunity to observe and practice public speaking. These activities are the integration between you and the public speaking that you are afraid of. They help you become more comfortable and more confidence so the fear is reduced to the level that you are comfortable with when you go to speak in public at a big event.
Recognize that fear is there for a reason. Listen to what fear is telling you and use that to better prepare yourself when working on achieving your goal. Use it to inform yourself. If you have been employed on corporations and are looking at transitioning to become self-employed, you’d likely be afraid of this change. Ask yourself if you are prepared. Look at different aspects of your transition e.g. technical, financial, personal etc. Then identify steps necessary for a successful transition.
- What are you afraid of? How does it make you feel?
- Where does this fear come from?
- How does this fear serve you?
- What are the benefits of having this fear?
- What’s the worst thing that could happen here?
- What’s the reality here? Is this fear real?
- What are the steps you can take/things you can do to get closer to ¼(desired outcome)
- How can you overcome this fear?
- How does fear show up in your life?
- What is something that you feared that you were able to overcome by being courageous? What was the outcome?
- How can you as a coach help your client shift from fear to courage?
- What are other ways you can embrace fear?
- Identify a fear that you currently have. Then ask yourself how you can integrate so you overcome this fear.
Battersby, Deborah The Positive Power of Fear Ezine @rticles, n.d. Web. 5 Jan 2013
Richo, David When Love Meets Fear: How to Become Defense-less and Resource-full New York: Paulist Press, 1997. Print.
Tillich, Paul The Courage to Be New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2000. Print.
Holland, Joy Embrace Fear to Transform Your Life EvolvingBeings, n.d. Web 5 Jan 2013