Some people are afraid of rejection, some are afraid of letting other people down, some are afraid of success, of failure, of not being perfect.
Some people don’t even know what they are afraid of, they just feel fear taking hold.
The first step is to understand what you are afraid of, the second step is to ask yourself a very important question:
Is it real?
Is this a FACT or a FEELING.
Ninety-nine per cent of the time, it won’t be real … or at least, you think it’s a lion when really it’s a kitten. Most of our fears are in our heads. We tend to perpetuate the worst-case scenario, playing out these roles in our minds, subconsciously and sometimes consciously too. We keep thinking that the worst thing that could possibly happen is actually going to happen. We start to believe that the worst thing we’ve got in our head is real, but it’s not.
The things you think about, the things you think are going to be the worst things are actually very, very unlikely to happen.
You have to get logical about this, and the way you do that is by taking back control of the situation and acknowledging that you feel scared about this particular situation, but it is a feeling and not necessarily a fact. It’s far better to acknowledge that you feel scared and then do something about it.
When faced with stepping out of our comfort, launching a new program or product, scaling your business or maybe even starting a new one … we think about all the variables: what could go right and, of course, what could go wrong?
Our first thoughts typically jump to the worst-case scenario. What is the absolute worst thing that could happen? Our minds get stuck here, in quicksand. We can’t move.
You think you’re going to fail. No one will show up. It will be a flop.
So guess what we tend to do … we procrastinate. In fact we procrastinate so much that we ensure we can’t succeed!
So try this … let’s face our worst-case scenario head on instead.
Some people would advise you against focusing on what’s the worst that could happen, as it quite often puts you off the very thing you are wanting to do. However, I have a different view. I think we should face our them head on, look at them in the cold light of day and ask ourselves, Is this really ever going to happen?
Is this a FACT or a FEELING?
I remember talking to a woman who wanted to start her own business. She was a doctor but had always wanted to be in business. She had so many great ideas but had not pursued even one of them. When I asked her why, her reasons astounded me. She had played out the worst-case scenario so many times that it had become reality. So we unpacked it …
What is the worst that could happen?
It could all go wrong and I’d lose all my money.
Okay, and if that did happen [which was entirely unlikely], what would happen then?
I’d lose my home because I wouldn’t have any money to pay the mortgage.
Wow. She had gone from being in a highly paid job as a doctor to being homeless in the space of sixty seconds.
I asked her how much she earned in her current job. She said £90,000 a year. I asked her if it had been hard to find her job. She said, ‘No, there is a big shortage of doctors, especially in London.’ I asked her how much her mortgage was. She said, ‘Twelve hundred pounds a month,’ and I asked, ‘So would it be fair to say that you need about £3,000 a month to cover all your expenses and have a little left over?’ She replied, ‘Yes, or maybe even a bit less.’
I asked her one last question.
‘How long does it take for a doctor to find a new job right now?’
‘Oh, about a month. But if you don’t mind where you work, you can find something the next day.’
I looked at her calmly …
‘So the worst-case scenario really is that your business doesn’t work out and that you go back and get a highly paid job doing exactly what you’re doing now.’
The penny dropped.
Here’s a little exercise:
Write down something you want to do that you haven’t done. Something you are scared of doing. Think about what’s held you back.
Now write down what the very worst thing is that could happen if you were to pursue this goal.
Look at it in black and white and ask yourself, How likely is it that this will really happen? Mark it on a scale of 1 to 10. Anything less than 6, you are going to totally ignore and simply move forward.
Now look at that scenario again and ask yourself, If this were to happen, what could you do? Write down three courses of action. Now write down what help you would need and from whom. Create a plan to deal with your worst-case scenario and immediately it will seem like a molehill rather than a mountain.
Keep asking yourself is this a FACT or a FEELING?
So what makes us want to do something, then derail ourselves?
Ignoring our instinct is another chapter in self sabotage’s book, alongside procrastination.
Your instinct tells you to do the right thing, but years of conditioning can make us view change as something to be afraid of, so instead your defence mechanism jumps in and sends you back down another dead end. Why? Because it feels comfortable.
Whether it’s your eating habits, your relationships or your work, your instinct tells you the right thing to do and your habits sabotage it.
Then you feel guilty. And the cycle keeps repeating itself.
Until you learn to break it.
You have to learn to listen to your instinct and follow it immediately, before your negative muscle memory has a chance to derail it.
The moment you try to make a change, to do something differently, you will start to feel uncomfortable and scared and your monkey brain will chime in with all the reasons why this is a bad idea … This is a sign that you are doing the right thing! Follow it. Listen to it.
Your instinct isn’t some ‘woo woo’ radar. It’s the summation of all your years of experience coming together in that one second to give you instant feedback on how you should handle a situation. I think of it as The Matrix meets Limitless (if you haven’t watched these films, they’re a great way to spend a Sunday evening).
Some psychologists, most famously Carl Jung, have theorised that we are born with the memories and experiences of our ancestors imprinted on our DNA. We’re not necessarily unlocking them, but it’s possible that our most basic survival instincts might stem from some trauma experienced many years ago, not even in our own lifetimes.
So how do you start to tap into your instinct more?
Have you ever felt as though something was not right, or felt a certain way about a situation? Maybe you felt unsafe at a particular moment or uneasy around someone?
This isn’t just a random feeling, this is your instinct, your intuition – otherwise known as a ‘gut’ feeling.
Being able to trust your gut and your intuition is powerful and even more so when you can really understand the signs your intuition is trying to give to you. But how do you develop your intuition? Better still, how can you learn to trust your instinct?
Here are five simple ways to help you do just that.
- Listen to it. It’s like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets.
- Meditate. Truth is, this is hard for me, but find your own way of mediating (I run) and you will find it easier to tap into your instinct.
- Live life in the present. Stop worrying about the past or the future and focus on the moment.
- Observe your energy levels around different people and environments. This is your gut feeling advising you on what is good for you and what is not.
- Write a diary. Don’t bury your feelings, track them. If you start to see patterns arising around particular people or situations then that is likely to be your instinct trying to tell you something.