Exposure doesn’t make the trigger less scary. It makes you braver.
While your self-esteem is unbalanced, fears can get out of control.
When something scares you, not for a logical reason but for an emotional one, you feel it in your bones.
When I hadn’t diversified my self-esteem yet, it hurt my belief in my ability to overcome.
This fear can really hold you back, if you let it.
I’ve been in situations where the only way out is through and thereby was forced into exposure. Facing the fear.
I would’ve stood by and passively let the situation leave if I wasn’t so tightly wound up in it.
It’s often easier to self-sabotage and create a losing game for yourself than to put yourself into the scariest situation – succeeding.
This can go far deeper than purely self-preservation, often we do not truly believe we deserve to succeed. As though, only the morally pure and ethical of us deserve goodness in our lives.
We see all the bad and ‘immoral’ things we do.
The secret is these are arbitrary constructs.
You are worthwhile, you deserve goodness.
Repeat that to yourself a few times and really mean it and start to feel that weight roll off for just a second.
When you’re anchoring yourself everyday with that shallow belief in yourself you surround yourself with a blanket of fear.
If the thing is scary and impossible you needn’t try, right?
It’d be unreasonable, irrational and straight-up silly to try, right?
Fear is a defence mechanism, but not always a valid one in today’s overly-protective environments.
There are very few mortal risks, and so we’ve become conditioned to blow risk out of proportion. It’s a relative game. If this thing is the riskiest thing in your world-view, it becomes a 10/10 scary prospect.
Even if it is just a job interview, presentation or a date.
Taking a breath and stepping out of the instant will allow you to take a wider perspective. You will always have a ‘worst fear’ in your life. Even as you conquer them you’ll still have one, so it becomes not so much about removing them but making yourself ‘braver’.
By starting small you can train your resilience like a muscle.
Using Operant Conditioning to strengthen your autonomic nervous system
Operant conditioning is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior.B.F. Skinner
Have you heard of Pavlov’s Dog?
When your body learns the pattern between being exposed to their risks and surviving (even flourishing) you may even one day come to be excited to be faced by the challenge.
Even one that used to terrify you.
If you would like that. If that sounds out of reach but incredible, then allow that to drive you.
Starting with that as the kindling you can light a fire that will propel you out of the manmade boundaries you’ve set for yourself.
Start small. Start manageable.
First map out what values are most important and work down the hierarchy – do you value charisma, relationships, money, career, skills, artistry?
Break them down into subcategories. For example: Charisma becomes Public Speaking, Story Telling, Starting New Conversations, and Smiling More.
Create a tree with branches.
Once you find the leaves, the lowest level of the tree. Ones that you can’t break down further. These are the values of greatest detail but least importance to you.
This is now your experimentation zone.
You have permission from yourself to make a right mess of this. To really fuck it up.
Because these things don’t matter that much to you.
You’ve lowered the stakes.
Fear is a function of stakes, as you sacrifice for things the stakes raise. Panic raises and the outcome is negative, retrospectively proving everything you feared true.
- Set out the hierarchy of values.
- Pick a target value you wish to improve upon that scares you a little.
- Think of the lowest form of investment you can actionably make today, no matter how small. Smile at someone, make eye contact with someone, leave the house, get out of bed or even just sit up, no matter where you are at. There’s always some small movement to make today a success. Your Smallest Actionable Investment (SAI).
- You succeeded or you didn’t. Either way you’ve made an attempt – that in-and-of-itself is a win. Maybe you didn’t win the ‘match’ but you can still win the championship.
- Build up courage to take it further and further, once you complete a ‘leaf’ in the value tree, move one step closer to the trunk. Towards the thing that scares you most, that matters the most.
One step at a time.
Every great journey, every great wall, every great product was built one step, one brick, one epiphany at a time.
Let’s get patient, let’s get productive. I believe in you.