Get On The Couch - Manage Your Fear
Several of my new coaching clients have engaged me to help them manage their fears. I applaud them for having the courage to own their fear and take action to dispel them. It’s a big doggone deal when they get on the couch. Let me explain. Colleagues that I worked with would often come to my office or call me saying, "Terrie, I need to get on your couch."
Generally that meant something challenging was happening in their world and they wanted my advice or perspective on the situation. Sometimes it meant they needed to go nuclear in a safe environment or chat with me to get their attitudes adjusted. I adopted the “get on the couch”phrase when coaching professionals on improving and building specific behaviors.
So imagine that you're “on the couch” talking about your fears today. We all have them. Some fears are good for us; they ground and protect us from real danger. A healthy fear of hurricanes is a good example. If you’ve ever lived through one, you know how devastating they can be so you stock up on water, food, meds, etc. and take every safety precaution you can muster.
Generally, we prepare for those kind of fearful events but treat personal fears differently. And it’s those personal fears that hold us back. Fear of speaking publicly, fear of disappointing someone, fear of failure, fear of heights, spiders, and dark or cramped spaces, to name a few, are experienced by millions of people.
Whatever they are, most fears can be managed. You may not get over them but you can chop them down to size. For example, I used to be afraid of heights. I remember being at the State Fair with friends who loved riding roller coasters. Rising the coaster sounded fun, but fear would grip me every time I looked up at the tracks. I hated being scared. But I’d start hyperventilating, sweating and lose my breath each time I entered a roller coaster car. In the end, I would offer to hold everyone else’s purse or coat while they enjoyed the ride.
So trust me I know how crippling fears can be. I also know that we can overcome them. Now, I’m still not crazy about heights, but I don’t let that hold me back from enjoying awesome adventures, like zip lining or climbing 50 ft up in the air. If I can do that, you can master your fear, too!
Manage Your FearYou can learn to manage fear using a process much, like any thing else you want to master. First and foremost, you must really want to ditch the fear. The process you will implement is simple but requires work to achieve the results you want. When you’re ready, commit and get to work. We will explore step one of the process today. It is analyzing your fear. You can’t conquer what you don’t fully understand. So spend time truly understanding the thing that scares you. You have to dissect your fear to determine how to crate it up. Here are 5 actions to take the first step in managing fear.
- Acknowledge the fear. It's real to you.
- Drill down. Explore what really scares you about the situation.
- Where does it manifest itself? In your body? Perhaps you get all sweaty and nervous. Your brain? Maybe you have no external affects and only in your head. What happens?
- How does it affect you? Some people become agitated, confused. Do you lost your ability to think quickly?
- How do you cope now? Explore how you cope with these affects now. Which coping methods are working effectively for you and which are not?
More to Come
Once you can clearly articulate what the fear is and how it impacts you, you're ready to work on slaying it. I will dive a little deeper in a future post on how to master or contain your fears. In the meantime, use the process outlined above to really assess fear that stands in your way of fun, career success, or just plain living more fully. And if you want personalized help managing fear or other professional concerns, click here to set up an initial free consultation. My couch can be virtual. Think Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or conference call if you don’t live in Dallas.
Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. I’d love to hear from you. I appreciate the email messages I’ve received and welcome new ones.