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Why you shouldn’t always feel the fear and do it anyway (or fake it ‘til you make it)

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

Today we’re looking at why feel the fear and do it anyway isn’t always the best idea - and how actually, sometimes, it can be counterproductive to your progress.

Listen & subscribe on Apple, Google podcasts, Spotify, YouTube - or search ‘Purpose, Peace & Profit’ on your favourite podcast platform!

You shouldn't always feel the fear.

So, let me clarify that.

Fake it 'til you make it is fine - sometimes - but it isn't always helpful.

Sometimes it can even make things worse, and that's what happened to me. I struggled, hugely, with lack of self confidence.

Social anxiety - I would rather the ground open up and swallow me than make small talk.

Having to do an interview or hold a meeting - the brain fog was so immense, all I could think about was what the other person thought of me and how badly wrong it was going (I only ever did about 3 interviews in my life).

Speaking in front of people? I'd have had butterflies for about a week before having to do anything like that. Loss of appetite, shaky legs, heart pounding, dry mouth, wobbly voice... the works. It was horrible - but I thought it was normal, just how I was. So I kept pushing on, trying to fake it in the hope that one day it would magically get better. It didn't.

Now I might be an introvert but I'm a very determined introvert, so I kept trying to put myself in scary situations because that’s what I’d heard you should do. But rather than getting better, the nerves got worse and worse. Not what I'd signed up for!

Apparently 75% of us hate public performance - and there are good reasons behind that. And obviously there are lots of other things we fear in business - sales calls, posting on social media, putting our prices up.

But it doesn't mean we have to be that way forever.

Now I've figured out what works, I regularly give mindset lectures, do live broadcasts and videos - oh yeah, I even host a podcast! I go to networking events and I can answer confidently, even come up with things on the spot.

This is so far removed from how I was!

What got me there?

Partly practice - partly gently

Partly learning techniques to control my nerves.

But what really turned things around was understanding what was going on, mentally and physically - and then sorting out my subconscious mind and reprogramming it to recognise that it would all be ok. Getting my mind on side.

Teaching my brain to recognise that speaking isn't life or death. Logically I always knew that - but fear doesn't come from the part of us that deals in logic.

Now it turns out that there is a fine line between pushing your boundaries, pushing against that fear to expand your comfort zone - and pushing so hard that you actually get yourself more entrenched.

Imagine it like a piece of elastic, or a boxing ring. If you gently push against the rope round the edge, it stretches and effectively makes the ring bigger. But if you throw yourself against it a little bit harder, you get bounced back off - as far away, or maybe even further away then when you started, and with bruises to boot.

Feeling the fear is fine - if you can use it to demonstrate to yourself that, despite it being scary as ****, you got through the event and actually it went ok.

Exposure to the scary thing + good result = brain that's less scared next time. Win.

But if the fear causes things to go badly - it just leads to more catastrophising, more proof that this is a horrible, scary situation - we just reinforce the fact that we should be afraid.

So the next time we're in that situation our brain goes looking for things to go wrong. We feel terrified - so inevitably they do go wrong. And so it continues. And who wants to live in constant terror?

A lot of coaches like to tell you it’s about taking action and then the confidence will follow. But actually the wonderful thing about our minds is that you can shift your perception and feel more confident about doing something before you’ve even done it - and you can also use imagination to make things feel so much easier when you actually come to do them, if you use it in the right way!

That’s how I do a lot of the work I do with my clients - it’s actually all about expanding that comfort zone without even having to really push against it - we do a lot of work to just start feeling more confident about taking the action before ever attempting to take the action. Just making it feel normal, like something they’ve already done and have experienced it going well before.

So how can you apply this for yourself?

Well we tend to focus heavily on everything that’s going to go wrong - that’s our default setting - our brains are natural catastrophising machines.

My biggest tip would be to flip that around and start focusing on imagining things going well - because by imagining it, it’s as though it’s actually happening!

And sometimes it’s good to just push a little less hard, find something that feels challenging but not absolutely terrifying and work on that first. Although I appreciate for ambitious people - being one - that’s not always an option!

So if there’s something you MUST do that’s really scaring the pants off you, if it’s feeling so scary that it’s causing you a physical reaction - gut churning, sweating, dry mouth - recognise that this is your brain in fight or flight mode. It’s actually equating this situation with life or death.

And if it’s feeling that bad, maybe it would be good to either get some help to work through it with a professional who, like me, can work on your subconscious mind and calm down that fear response so it just feels easy.

Because isn’t that how life should be, after all?


Listen & subscribe on Apple, Google podcasts, Spotify, YouTube - or search ‘Purpose, Peace & Profit' on your favourite podcast platform.


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