How to act despite fear

You know how sometimes we just freeze when the time comes to do something scary?

Our minds jam. They throw an exception.

It could happen if you want to ask someone on a date: you might clam up when a suitable moment to ask presents itself. Or it could happen when you want to sell something at a high price: you might chicken out by suggesting a lower price instead.

This is fear stopping you from doing something you want.

It would be great if you could act despite the fear. But how?

This is relevant when you’re experiencing impostor syndrome too. Earlier this week, we talked about reducing impostor syndrome’s grip on you by acting despite the fear of being outed as an impostor.

But how to act despite fear?

I read about a little trick somewhere—can’t remember where—and it helps. Here’s how it works:

You thank your brain for producing fear.

Let’s say you’re giving a talk and you’re about to get on stage in front of 50 people. You’re experiencing nervousness and you feel some fear that you might mess up. Here’s what you say to your brain:

Hey brain! I noticed that you’re producing some fear there, to warn me that I’m about to do something risky. Thanks so much for your concern. Really, I appreciate it.

I know that in prehistoric times, it might have been fatal if a large group of people judged me negatively. It might cut off my access to food, or something.

Even today, it would suck if all these people laughed at me or cringed because they hated my talk.

But you know what? I prepared for my talk. I got this.

So brain, thank you. I know you’re looking out for me. But I’m going to do this anyway, even though you’re warning me. See ya!

Seriously, try this. This trick sometimes helps me to act despite the fear. If you try it, I’d love to hear whether it helps you too.


— Peter

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