Photo credit: Oscar Keys
You cannot escape fear.
Fear is a core mechanism ingrained in humans which gives us the fight-or-flight response that helps us to survive.
In a lot of instances the ability to process and comprehend fear is essential, like moving your hand away from something that's hot or running from a harmful situation.
However, over time we have developed irrational fears which do not pose a tangible threat, such as the fear of public speaking, the fear of being embarrassed, the fear of being alone, or even the fear of having an awkward conversation with someone because of how they may judge you...
How can we overcome this?
Most advice you'll find would tell you to take a step back, rationalise the fear, then realise that it is a highly unlikely event which will most likely never happen.
The problem with this approach is that most of us are fully aware that fear is irrational - we know that if we mess up whilst public speaking we are not going to die... Also, what if that improbable event of messing up all your lines, forgetting your words, and being completely embarrassed does indeed happen?
What I suggest is flipping the conventional approach on its head; thrive on being uncomfortable.
Fully prepare for the worst to happen; expect to mess up all your lines, be completely embarrassed, and have awkward conversations - be comfortable with the feeling of being uncomfortable.
Let me give you a personal example: recently I was asked to attend an event to speak about my experiences and career to university students. The first conversation I had ended in an awkward silence, and in one of my speeches I froze for 10 seconds as my mind went completely blank... I literally said 'Sorry, I completely forgot what I'm trying to say' - you could feel the judgement in the air.
The above would have crushed me a year ago, but when you are prepared and ready for it you are able to associate positive connotations to these feelings. After having that awkward conversation I appreciated that it could not get any worse; as a result I relaxed, approached more people, and ended up having some fantastic interactions with people. The same applied to the following speeches I delivered; I was able to process and be comfortable with the feeling of being nervous and overwhelmed as I knew that when the worse happened I would be mentally prepared for it.
Not only is this a great way to handle situations which you are forced into, but it is also a great way to overcome insecurities associated with being judged or not being accepted.
Learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable is a great skill which will help you take risks and live life to the fullest, simply due to the fact that you will associate positivity to whatever happens; whether it may end up in having incredible experiences or being completely embarrassed.
Be comfortable in being uncomfortable.
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