By Nila Sweeney
Saturday, 10 August 2013
Friday, 9 August 2013
Your fear is like your shadow. It's scary because it looms over you. Yet it doesn't have power over you.
By Nila Sweeney
Once upon a time, we were all fearless creatures who believe we can do anything we want. We were not afraid to do things, say things and push our limits. We were convinced we can do anything. And we did, most of the time.
And then one day, we did something and suffered some unpleasant consequences.
Maybe we got punished. Maybe we got told it’s too dangerous. Slowly, little by little, we lost this gift. We learned to be cautious. We no longer want to take risks.
We were afraid to try new things for fear that we would fail and make mistakes. We’re afraid to say what we think for fear that we would be judged harshly and won’t be accepted by others.
So we started to put up appearances, overcompensating for the things we’re really afraid of by doing the opposite in excess.
And so we go through our own lives taking the safe route and living an average life. We never dare to stand out for fear that we’ll be ridiculed. We try to hide behind a facade to cover up our fear of not measuring up, of making mistakes and looking stupid.
I’ve lived like this for the longest time in my life. I was always afraid of rocking the boat, so I would always agree to do things no matter how much I wanted to refuse.
I’d say the “right” things even if I don’t really mean them, just to be accepted. I didn’t take many risks such as investing because it’s too “dangerous”, I could lose my life’s savings. So, I’ve let many great opportunities passed me by.
Yet I know in my heart that the gutsy girl who used to ride motorcycles and do deep ocean dives is still in there somewhere. All I needed to do is to reconnect and awaken her from her long slumber.
After many attempts at confronting my irrational fear, I’ve finally made some progress. Have I eliminated them? Of course not. That wasn't my goal. My aim was to subdue my fears so they no longer control me.
I know now that my fear is like a shadow. It never leaves me. But like a shadow, it has no real force or power over me unless I let it run wild.
So how did I tame my fear? Here are a few techniques that helped me. It may help you too.
Know your enemy
You may have a clue in your head about what you’re really afraid of, but unless you write them down, they’re just nebulous ideas.
By crystallising these irrational fears, you’d see what’s triggering them, which in turn help you to deal with them.
Say hello to your fear
Acknowledging that you are afraid is an important step in confronting your fear. Trying to pretend it’s not there will only make it more potent. Getting your fear out in the open and facing it squarely will lose its impact.
Remember that your fears are like shadows. They’re scary because they loom over you, but once you turn around and confront them, you’d see they’re nothing but a feeble threat, with no ability to hurt you unless you allow them to.
Assess the potential damage
What’s the worst thing that could happen if this irrational fear materialises? The reality is, the imagined future is scarier than what happens in real life.
For example, we may be afraid of losing our jobs and unable to provide for our families and pay off our debts.
Yet if push comes to shove, we will find a way, no matter what, to earn a living to support our families.
Assessing the worst case scenario goes a long way in putting things into perspective and subduing your fears.
Take a small step out of your comfort zone
For some people, the only way to confront their fear is to go all out and stare it in the face. There is nothing wrong with that. It can be cathartic and effective.
In my case, I had to take it slowly. Making changes in the way I do things in small doses were more manageable for me than to go full on straight away.
Arm yourself for battle
If you’re afraid of speaking in front of people, get trained. Practice a lot.
If you’re afraid of investing, educate yourself so you know what traps to avoid.
If you’re afraid to fail in your project, have a game plan to follow and mitigate the risks.
As one wise person once said:
“Fear is a dark, pessimistic force that makes our future gloomy and bleak.
We attract what we fear and when we confront the fear, they disappear.”
Tuesday, 6 August 2013
By Nila Sweeney
I've tried. In fact I've been trying for days.
No matter how long I've stared at the screen, I couldn't come up with anything meaningful, let alone witty and brilliant. Again and again I would start typing, only to get stuck after the first paragraph.
When it started happening, I dismissed it to be nothing but a temporary setback. My creative juices would flow soon. So I kept telling myself.
Except that they didn't. No matter how I tried to find that elusive creative spark, I came out empty-handed.
Predictably, I started believing that little voice in my head telling me I'm not good at this blogging thing.
I ignored it at first, but then it grew louder as I started seeing proofs. I have half a dozen half-written articles with so much promise at the start, but have since been consigned to the article graveyard.
How picked myself up
At this point, I just wanted to quit and join the ranks of the 99.9% of bloggers out there who failed and abandoned their blogs. But a bigger part of me was headstrong and perhaps too proud to stop.
So I had to pick myself up. To do this, I had to stop listening to that nagging voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough. Most importantly, I had to get clear about why I was stuck.
So I went to the gym.
I tend to get the best ideas when I’m working out, so I decided to give this old brain some oxygen.
As I walked towards my local Fitness First Club, I noticed myself thinking, “Why can’t writing be as effortless as walking? Why is it so hard?”
That’s when it hit me: I've been forcing it. I've been trying too hard. I had this fantasy that I would always come up with amazing stuff. Every time.
Of course, with such an unreasonably high expectation, I was so afraid of being judged.
I've also realised that I've been trying to write about topics that didn't truly touch and inspire me. I've been a fake.
While my aim was to write inspiring posts, my intention in this particular instance has been less honourable. It was in fact about looking good and less about what I can offer.
This is what I've learned from this breakdown
Lesson #1. The truth will set you and your creativity free
Duh, I knew this. Obviously I haven’t truly learned this lesson; therefore I must go through the painful process of learning it.
I pretended to be wise and all-knowing. The hard truth is, I have a long way to go. I’m still suffering from insecurities. I’m still scared of baring my soul.
Admitting to this and vowing to work with honesty and integrity is the way forward for me.
Lesson #2. Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness
In fact it’s the opposite. The strongest people I've known were not afraid of admitting to their mistakes.
Instead of hiding behind my bullet-proof vest of pretensions, I can now let the bad news out: I’m a phony and I’m weak.
Now that’s out of the way, I can now focus on letting this go and become the strong person that I know I am.
When you’re no longer concerned about people judging you, betraying you or hurting you, you’re free to do and live as you please.
You become at peace with yourself and your world. You unleash your creative energy.