Analyzing fear diffuses its power. “Analysis paralysis” is when you mull over something, study it, ask the opinion of your friends, family, or even strangers in the coffee shop to the point where you’re essentially powerless to take action because you’re over-thinking the situation.
Having “analysis paralysis is not a good place to be, and is generally a real problem for people who tend to be perfectionists, afraid of making a mistake, afraid of failure, or even for some desiring success.
As is so often the case, though, there is an exception to the general rule of over analyzing things. When it comes to fear, give the following a try.
Stare right at fear, put it under microscopic scrutiny and wallow in the mud with it. Look at it from all different angles, take it apart, and pin point exactly where the “fear” in the situation lies.
To start, let’s look at the most common fear, that of public speaking. Now, public speaking is something most people fear more than death. “Speak to the Junior League? No thanks, I’d rather be run over by a Mac truck.”
It is time to let the analyzing begin. What exactly are people afraid of about speaking? Technically, unless you have the unfortunate habit of talking to yourself when others are around, all speaking is public speaking. If you talk and someone hears, that is public speaking. You could, of course, make the argument that speaking on the phone isn’t public speaking.
So let’s look at that for a moment. Would you be comfortable speaking on the phone if more than one person were listening in? How about if more people were in on the conversation? Is there a magic number at which point talking over the phone would give you butterflies? If so, what would that number be, exactly?
When you’re imagining yourself speaking in public, where does the fear lie? You don’t really think you’ll suddenly develop a speech impediment that you’ve never had before, do you? Of course not. You know intellectually that won’t happen. You could make a mistake though, right? You very well may misspeak, or lose your place. I have news for you. It happens to professional speakers all the time, and it’s no big deal.
Have you ever listened to a speaker that did not ONCE pause to collect her thoughts, or accidentally mispronounce a word? What did you do? I’ll bet you thought nothing of it. Most likely it probably slipped right off your radar screen, and you didn’t even think about what happened afterward.
When you’re thinking about what you fear, it may even serve you to think of the absolute worse case scenario. Make it outrageous, and please, keep it very melodramatic, as though you were watching a play. It is crucial here to stay “outside” of the situation, and don’t actually generate any negative emotion.
So there you are, watching yourself speak in public (deep breath, please) and you mispronounce a word. See then, you’re easily correcting the word. If it’s a truly funny mistake, laugh at it with the audience. Can you see how self-confident you are?
How do you handle things when you lose your place? Simple, pauses are extremely effective for your audience, they need time to process information. You pause, you glance at your notes, then you resume what you are talking about.
Can you think of something truly outrageous that you’d be afraid might happen? What is it? What would you do? In each situation, toss around ideas for yourself so you’ll know how to handle the great feared circumstance. Expand this skill to other endeavors. One such situation might be when you would like to ask for a raise.
For any given situation you must think about what could happen and how you would handle it. Look at each detail you think you’re afraid of, play it out on stage first, find your response, and see yourself calmly handling it.
And Now, whatever that thing is you fear, go out and conquer it. You know deep down, don’t you, that you really can handle it. It is not really a big deal at all, just some unknown that you can overcome because your intelligence and ability to figure out a solution is much, much bigger than your fear.
When you are old, and wearing purple, won’t you be tickled with yourself that when you were able, you took risks, that there were times when you were afraid and you took the step, and did it anyway?
And won’t your experience enrich not only your own life, but be a great example for some other young woman who wants to do something, but is, right now, a little afraid?