12 Tips on How to Think Clearly and Not Let Fear Control You

Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

We have an interesting relationship with fear. Many people enjoy scary movies and books, such as Psycho and The Shining. The occasional (or not so occasional) visit to the amusement parks for thrilling rollercoaster rides also seems to keep the adrenaline flowing. We look forward to Halloween where we can dress up as rather frightening characters. That’s when our relationship with fear is exciting, even fun. This isn’t too surprising, since these types of situations give us a monsterfair amount of control over fear. Yet, what do we do with situations where our relationship with fear isn’t fun or a thrill? In fact, there are probably times where everyone has felt that fear is out of control, and that is downright terrifying.

Watch Out for Those Monsters!

Most can remember times when as a child, we were greatly concerned over going to bed due to ‘The Monsters’ under the bed. Or as one of my friends insist… those monsters were on the ceiling! Pretty scary stuff back then, but what about now? How does fear show up in our lives and do we handle it as well as we would like to? Dealing with fear isn’t really fun, and many people would like to avoid or deny it. Harry Emerson Fosdick once said, “Whatever else you can run away from, you can’t run away from yourself.” Fear is much like our shadow – no matter how hard we run, it’s going to dog us.

12 Tips to Managing Fear

Fear or stress can feel overwhelming at times. So, how can we manage it better? The following are some ideas to getting a handle on fear, so you can think clearly:

1. Get a reality check on fear. Fear can become bigger and bigger in our minds until it takes on unrealistic proportions. Discuss your anxiety or concerns with others to discover what is real and what isn’t. An example would be the individual who fears failure in everything he or she wants to do, where in reality that individual has always been successful. That person needs to change his/her perspective.

2. Break the mesmerism of fear. It is very easy to obsess over fear. Breaking the pattern, taking a break, finding a distraction, getting support, etc. can help. This isn’t to say that we should ignore our anxieties, but obsessing over them won’t help us to resolve them any faster or to enjoy life more.

3. Anxiety can help us to grow. George Herbert once said, “Storms make oaks take deeper root.” It can be very uncomfortable and even terrifying to face our fears, but at the same time, we can develop a more stable foundation in ourselves. Usually, as we develop a pattern of facing and overcoming scary situations, we become stronger and surer in ourselves.

4. Find a balance between working on your own issues and helping others. As Lewis Carroll stated, “One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.” Finding ways to help others, by volunteering and such, can help put our own fears into perspective. Additionally, use your own experiences with fear to help others to deal with their anxiety. It is an interesting phenomenon in life that when we assist others, we in turn grow and help ourselves at the same time.

5. Develop a support network. It is much easier to face fear and difficulties with the help of others. Find someone who can gently, but firmly help you to handle the anxiety and not to enable your fears.

6. Pick your battles carefully. Don’t try to resolve everything at once. If possible, work on one fear at a time and use small steps to making change. For example, when I have worked on my shyness, I have chosen where to push myself and where to back off. When I attend parties, I develop guidelines for what small step to work on and what is ok, like allowing myself a period of time to adjust to the situation.

7. There is a time and a place for everything. In a world where many people believe problems must be fixed ASAP, I have a different theory about fear and change. I believe that when pain or distress around a problem increases to a level that is higher and more intense than our fear, then we make the change. Everyone has a certain pacing and to push too hard and fast can end in failure and frustration.

8. Don’t give up and let it take over. The old saying to get back on the horse, after it has bucked you off, is so true. Plus, the longer we wait to get back on that old horsy, the person climbing mountainharder it will be.

9. Find your anchor. What is your true purpose in life? What is your top priority? Find something solid to trust in, something to lean upon. I once read, “Not until tomorrow do we sometimes see clearly enough to appreciate the gifts of today.” I try not to live for tomorrow, so each day I strive to appreciate that I can get up and enjoy the sun shining, listen to the birds chirping and see the trees waving in the wind. When the waves of fear or stress start to rise, it is important to have something to anchor your ship to.

10. Watch out for addictive behavior. Many people use substances (like alcohol, drugs or food), events (like sex or shopping) and even people to numb out fear. If you find this to be true for you, seek out help.

11. Use resources to manage the anxiety. There are many good avenues to controlling fear – mediation, yoga, exercise, support groups, counseling, writing, art, self-help books, etc. The Internet is also quite helpful in gathering new ideas and information. For those suffering from chronic anxiety or panic attacks, the Anxiety Panic Internet Resource (www.algy.com/anxiety) has some helpful tips.

12. Seek out help. When anxiety is out of control or you constantly get stuck when trying to resolve an issue, get help from mentors, a business coach, counselors, friends, clergy, etc. If fear is an obstacle that prevents you from doing things you want or need to do, then you probably need assistance.

Making the Growth Choice

Stewart Emory once said, “The absence of fear is not an option that is available to most people. People are looking for that, but that is just not an option. The difference between sailboatpeople who are really making it in the world and the people who are not is simple: The people who are making it in the world are making it and they have fear.” He then continues, “To go forward we need to make the growth choice. The fear choice is to retreat to comfort and avoid the fear. The growth choice is to take fear as a companion and move ahead. To have a life that is a joyful adventure, we need to be willing to take the risk. Courage is the willingness to be afraid and act anyway.” We can’t eliminate fear, but we can find ways to manage it so we can move forward on to achieve our goals and dreams.

Discussion Points

As we move into the new year, hiring the right team member can reduce the fear of missing goals, help to improve interpersonal communication, create opportunities and bring fun back into the work place. It is helpful to remember that we all need assistance when it comes to dealing with fear. So please feel free to share this article with team members, staff and friends. It also makes for a great discussion for your next meeting. Here are a few questions to consider:

♦ What was your biggest fear in the last year and how did you deal with it?
♦ Any particular fear that you have for the new year?
♦ Discuss some small steps to conquering that fear.
♦ What are some ways you can reach out for support?
♦ How can you change how you might usually deal with a stressful situation?
♦ What are some things you would like to accomplish in the new year?
♦ What are some measurable steps to achieve these goals?

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2017  This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and her organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Ellen has over 15 years of data analysis and business consulting experience and is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.