As we saw in part 1, and part 2, we often we get stalled because we have "microfears." These steer us away from the Important Things we want. It’s our thinking that does it. We imagine what might go wrong, feel a bit of fear, and then suddenly notice we have a pressing urge to watch Netflix.
The good part is that we’ve noticed how things might go wrong. The bad part is that we’ve responded by avoiding, not by taking care of what might go wrong.
- Where are you stalled?
- What’s not getting done?
- Where do you shy away?
It’s easy to find fears; just ask!
Stop right now and think of where you’re stalled. Now just ask yourself:
- What am I afraid of?
Give as many answers as come to mind. Then give one or two more. You’ll often find the answers spring to mind quickly.
Use your brain, deliberately
Remember: your brain is not logical. List the answers, no matter how realistic they may be.
Imagine you’re afraid to say "No" when your boss asks you to work weekends. You might have a sort-of-reasonable fear like "I’m afraid I’ll get fired if I say No." You might also have over-the-top fears. "I’m afraid I’ll die alone in a gutter, covered in mud, smelling of bad whisky."
Both are triggering your fear response, so you need to deal with both of them.
Separate emotion and information
Now bring in your Thinking Brain to address your imagined futures. For each one, mentally make a plan for how you can prevent the fear from happening, and how you can address it if it does happen.
I’m afraid I’ll get fired. I ask my boss ahead of time, "what will happen if I say ‘no’?" I can also keep up-to-date on my networking so if it does happen, I have a fallback plan.
I’m afraid I’ll die alone in a gutter. I’ll look at my bank balance and credit limits to be sure I can get enough money to keep my apartment if I get fired.
Now implement those plans.
Congratulations! You’ve handled a microfear. You heard the messages your brain was concerned about. Rather than falling into fight/flight/freeze, you made a concrete plan. The next move is up to you, not your fear.