Making Friends With Your Fears

Making Friends With Your Fears

"Don’t show weakness." "Suck it up." "Don’t be scared."

Fear has become something that many people are ashamed of. We are told in so many ways to hide fear: 

  • Never be afraid 
  • Deny when you are afraid
  • Always appear in control

We don’t get many messages in society telling us to: 

  • Be grateful for fear
  • Acknowledge and accept fear
  • Embrace and listen to the wisdom of fear

Let’s explore what fear is and how it can help you achieve your goals as an entrepreneur. 

What is Fear?

Fear serves an absolutely vital function: Human survival. We were given fear to protect us. Some people prefer to call this "intuition." If "fear" has become a dirty word for you, as it has for many others, you can think of it this way:

  • Anxiety/doubt/dread= unhealthy fear that paralyzes and keeps you from meeting your goals
  • Intuition= healthy fear that guides you and brings you great knowledge about a situation, allowing you to make more informed decisions to achieve your goals 

Both types of fear are felt physically in the stomach. They may be experienced as pangs, tightness, spasms, upset stomach or other abdominal discomfort. Pausing every time you feel a stomach sensation can help you become more aware of fear coming up. 

Where Does Unhealthy Fear Come From?

Unhealthy fear comes from the messages you received about yourself and your ability to achieve your goals. These limiting messages can originate from:

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Peers
  • Societal "truths"

These messages may become internalized as beliefs that create invisible roadblocks to the success of an entrepreneur:

  • "I’m not good at making decisions."
  • "People won’t want what I have to offer."
  • "If I can’t do it perfectly, I shouldn’t even try."
  • "The unknown is scary."
  • "If I get in too deep, I won’t know what to do."

Unhealthy fears can also be the result of past experiences, such as the rejection of one of your business ideas or making a mistake. These unhealthy fears will only hold you back as you strive to start your own business. 

How Can I Know What My Unhealthy Fears Are?

The first step is to identify which messages you internalized. Some ways you can figure out which beliefs are affecting you as an entrepreneur are:

  • Writing down a positive statement such as, "I make good decisions" or "People want what I have to offer." Wait patiently for any contradicting thoughts to pop up, and write them down immediately. Your inner voice may say, "But you made a bad decision last week" or "No one wants your product." These are your unhealthy fears.  
  • Talking out your fears with a trusted friend or mentor who is already a successful entrepreneur and supports you as you start your own business. Ideally, this person will call out your unhealthy fear.

How Can I Say "No" to My Unhealthy Fear?

One way to let these fears go is to simply disagree with them every time they show up in your life. For example, if you need to call a contact to discuss your business plan, and you feel a twinge in your stomach and your nerves are on edge, ask yourself, "Is this healthy fear trying to protect me or unhealthy fear getting in my way?"

Chances are, it’s unhealthy fear from an unhelpful belief you have. Consistently challenge these unhealthy fears, and they will lose momentum in your life as an entrepreneur.   

How Can I Make Friends With My Fears?  

The tricky part is separating the healthy from unhealthy fear. Once you’ve done that, fear can become your friend. With your new sense of clarity, you can revise your plan to start your own business:

1. Revisit your short- and long-term goals, identify any fears associated with your goals, then categorize them as healthy or unhealthy.

2. Identify your strengths that will help you achieve your goals.

3. Set a short- and long-term plan.

4. Identify the immediate steps you need to take within the next week and start checking them off today! 

Embrace your healthy fear, or intuition, by listening to it. Pause and notice the sensations in your stomach. Ask yourself, "Is this feeling from healthy or unhealthy fear?" You can use your intuition to your great advantage when you start your own business. Acknowledge its advice, but remember, the final call is always up to you!