I want to talk to you about how to overcome fear by breaking out of your comfort zone. Throughout my teenage years and into my 20s, fear has been responsible for a lot of my decisions in life and has been a key reason why I became interested in self-development. The moment you loosen the grip that fear has on you is the moment that you take back control of your life and get in touch with your values once again.
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Last week, an opportunity came up that I was really scared to try. At this point, I was on a nice streak of progress towards my goals and doing uncomfortable things despite my fears. This opportunity was a Swing dance class that was being offered on my school campus. In case you aren’t familiar, Swing dance is a series of dance techniques that started in the 1920s with Jazz music. There is a lot of crazy movement involved and it is quite challenging! The class was offered by a club that meets weekly to learn Swing dancing and this opportunity was a drop-in session to help get new members out to the club.
Dance (in general) is a hobby that I’ve wanted to learn more about for a while, and it definitely isn’t something I am good at. When the class popped up on my Facebook news feed, I thought it would be something fun to try, and it would be a great opportunity to learn how to overcome fear. I didn’t fully commit to going yet, though.
I KNEW I HAD TO DO IT
The day of the class, I woke up to do my morning ritual. As motivated as I was, this one thing kept bothering me and giving me waves of negative emotions. It was the dance class. I knew deep down that it was something that I wanted to do. But, I was scared to go, and it frustrated me. I was letting the fearful emotions have power over me, and control the way I felt during my morning ritual (which is supposed to be positive). The feeling was so intense that I said to myself:
“You know what…I am going to do this. I don’t care what the outcome will be.”
The pain of potentially not going got so intense that I knew that somehow, someway, I had to get myself to go. At that point, as I finished my exercise on the elliptical, I fully committed to going to the class. I wanted to know how to overcome fear.
HOW TO OVERCOME FEAR
When you are evaluating something that you are scared to try, you might ask yourself, “What if I GENUINELY don’t want to do it?“
It is important to know how to differentiate between something that you are avoiding because it is making you scared, and something that you genuinely don’t want to do. You shouldn’t have to force yourself through certain kinds of situations, particularly if they don’t support your goals in any way.
WEIGH THE BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS
In my case, I took a look at the benefits associated with going to the dance class, and I weighed them against the drawbacks. I knew that I wanted to learn how to loosen up more in social situations. I wanted to bring out my fun side, become less tense, and also become more comfortable with physical touch, especially around the opposite sex. These were the reasons for my decision.
The next time you are scared to do something, I encourage you to weigh the benefits and drawbacks. You want to be mindful about what exactly is scaring you. Sit down by yourself and spend a few minutes being with the fearful emotions. Observe them without getting absorbed by them. Give yourself a chance to logically evaluate your decision. Does it support ANY of your goals or would it serve no purpose for you? Make sure that you are honest with yourself. Don’t run away from the situation just because you are scared. Learning how to overcome fear is all about facing it.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
When you have decided that it makes sense to tackle your fear, you should make sure that you are held accountable. When I decided to go to the class, I told my coworker that I planned on going. I said that I wanted him to hold me accountable to going. It is something that made me nervous, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t give myself a chance to back out. By doing so, I made it as easy as possible for myself to stay committed to my decision.
It is really powerful when you tell someone what your goals are. That is why I share the progress I make towards my goals in my Monthly Goals Reports. In order to be viewed as a trustworthy and genuine person, you have to become a man or woman of your word. You want people to trust that you will do what you say you are going to do. As a result of this, I ended up going to the class without any second thoughts.
Another thing I would advise is to distract yourself as much as possible on the day that you tackle your fear. It can cause a lot of anxiety when you focus too much on what you will be doing and how nervous you are. This was a mistake that I made when I went to the dance class. On my way there, I was sitting on the subway for a while by myself. I let myself think about it so much, to the point where I was too anxious to even want to listen to some music or do something else.
Something as simple as listening to music or playing a game on your phone can help remove yourself from your head and calm you down. Thus, when you are about to tackle your fear, the build up of anxiety will be a lot less. You will be able to know how to overcome fear with a lot more certainty and be confident in your disposition and how you feel.
LOSE YOUR EGO
I will also add that the class itself was very uncomfortable. When I arrived, the room was filled with people I have never met before. I came by myself of course, so there was a period at the beginning where I had to sit by myself and wait for the class to start. When the class began, I still felt quite uncomfortable.
One thing I wanted to mention was that there was one person I danced with and they seemed very demanding of my abilities. They kept correcting me when I did the dance moves wrong. The mistake that I made was that I got defensive about it internally. It shot my self-esteem a bit. I asked myself, “Who is this person to tell me what I should be doing? Don’t they know that I am a beginner?” BUT, I eventually realized that they were actually an instructor for the class. They had the right to provide me feedback on my dancing.
The lesson here was that I needed to lose my ego. There was no reason why I should attach my enjoyment of the class to how good I am at dancing. There was no reason to get defensive about simple criticism. I needed to become comfortable with the growth process and failure as I learn how to overcome fear.
So when you are tackling your fear, you want to make sure that you lose your ego. Realize that it is a learning process when you are trying something that is new to you. You are going to make some mistakes and you need to be okay with that. It may not be very comfortable but that is completely okay!
TAKE SMALL STEPS
Although I left the class still feeling quite uncomfortable, I want to emphasize that you can use small steps to help you learn how to overcome fear. Since I still want to learn dancing, I intend to go back to the class. However, this time, I am inviting some coworkers to come with me. This will ease the tension and the intimidation factor of the class. As a result, my comfortability will gradually build up. After I go with a group of people that I know, I will feel more at ease going by myself the time after that. This is something I would advise you to do if tackling your fear on your own is too anxiety-inducing for you or if you have a very uncomfortable experience your first time around.
What if you don’t have friends that want to go help you tackle your fear? What I would advise is to look at what kinds of events your friends DO attend for fun. Ask them if you can join them next time. Let them know that you are there to experience it and try out new things. This will provide an alternate opportunity to tackle your fear of new situations. You can also look for events where nobody knows each other to start. This will eliminate the pressure of fitting into pre-existing friendships and groups that already know each other. These alternatives will help you ease your way into uncomfortable social situations at a more relaxed pace.
JUST AN EMOTION
Finally, I will reiterate that fear is JUST AN EMOTION. It comes and goes and doesn’t have to be a part of you. Don’t shy away from getting out of your comfort zone. Let’s go do some crazy new things together! Also, I am here to support you on your journey.
I am excited about the growth of Fearless Progression and would love to have you along for the ride! I invite you to follow me on my social media channels for a lot of awesome content coming your way:
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