How To Deal with Fear
Fear is the natural companion of creative action. There is only one way to live free of fear – and that is to live without hope, change, or growth.
Do you want to know what "self-confidence" really is? Just think about how you feel when you're doing something you've done so many times you could do it in your sleep – like tying your shoes. That is self-confidence, and that's all it is: know-how verging on boredom. Do you remember the first time you tied your own shoes? You weren't self-confident then. You
were nervous, excited, and unsure. But you mastered shoe-tying, and you soon moved on to bigger things in which, once again, you had no self confidence – like arithmetic...and driving a car. That's the game we're playing. That's the law of human growth. Would you like to do nothing but tie your shoe again for the rest of your life so you'd never have to feel nervous
There's no way around it. When you start moving, you start shaking. Every time you try anything new, anything that really summons and stretches your capacities – in short, anything worth doing – you're going to feel uncertainty and self-doubt as well as challenge and exhilaration. That is the healthy fear called stage fright, and I'm going to let you in on what all accomplished people know: how to live with it and love it. It's a good friend that lets you know you're on the right track, that what you're doing is big enough for you. There are easy ways. To make yourself move right through it, and as soon as you do, it turns into pure excitement.
For many of us, however, stage fright is complicated by another kind of fear, much deeper and more disabling, I call it survival fear.
Survival fear is most common in "first-generation winners" – people whose families didn't know how to prepare them for action. The people it doesn't afflict are the rare ones who've had lots of loving support who've
been shown how to do things, so they could start getting experience early.
To those lucky people, the unknown is just...the unknown.There could be a lady or a tiger behind that door, but they're prepared for either one.
They've handled both before. They know they can call on reinforcements in an emergency. They aren't going to open that door without nervous palpitations, but you can bet they're going to open it.
They have had the security human beings need for risk and adventure. For those of us who haven't had emotional and practical backing, however, the unknown is the part of the map with the dragons in it. When we don't know what's coming, we expect the worst. If you feel a mistake or a failure would be so devastating.that you don't even dare try, that's survival fear. So is the paralysis that strikes when you demand a performance of yourself that's far beyond your skill and experience–like trying to write a book the first time you sit down to write. If you think someone you love will be hurt or hate you or divorce you if you start getting what you want,. that's survival fear, too.
All survival fear is exaggerated. It gets its intensity from a child's- eye view of the world that many of us were never helped to outgrow.
Of course one mistake isn't going to be the end of you. Every great novelist, salesman, doctor, or anything else began as an inexperienced beginner.
And it's an extremely rare husband who's really going to divorce his wife for painting instead of ironing his shirts. Your mind knows that. Your
feelings don't. The best antidote for those feelings is the adult experience of going ahead and doing the thing and finding out that nothing so terrible happens after – but it's precisely that experience that the fear prevents us from getting. So we're caught in a vicious cycle,a lot like the old circular saying about a job: "Can't get self-confidence without experience; can't get experience without self-confidence."
How can you tell stage fright from survival fear? With just a little encouragement and Hard Times, you can push right through stagefright.
Survival fear is too strong. You can't bluff and brave your way through it–and for a very good reason. As exaggerated as it is, that fear has a real message for you. It's trying to tell you that there's something you need and have got to get before you can afford to take risks and have adventures. It may be practical preparation or emotional support; it may be permission to
lower perfectionist standards or to make mistakes. The message will be different for different people. But whatever it is you need, if you don't get it and you try to go ahead without it, you really will get hurt. And your body
So the only way to break the vicious cycle of survival fear is to respect the fear and pay attention to it. If you decode the survival message and take care of your need, all that's going to be left of your fear is stagefright – and
that's the easy part.