How to Overcome Fear by Living Life as a Remarkable Experiment
All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the easier it will be to overcome fear. So what if you end up a little off course, or stumble? So what if you actually fall? You will get up, dust yourself off, and you will never again be so afraid of taking a tumble.
There’s nothing that will stop us in our tracks faster than fear. Fear of failure, fear of change, ridicule, rejection; whatever the form, fear is undeniably the most common limiting emotion.
But what if we were able to reframe our fears; to shift away from “all or nothing” / “fail or succeed” thinking and learn to love life as a series of remarkable experiments?
The beauty of thinking of life as a series of big and small experiments is that when we experiment we are far more willing to take calculated risks and to acknowledge failure. After all, that’s what experiments are all about: discovery and growth.
I haven’t failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work. ~Thomas Edison
The amazing thing is, no matter what happens during an experiment, as long as you learn something, you can consider the experiment a success – simply because it got results. Even if something doesn’t work, it’s okay because you have still gained valuable information to help you create a new experiment that is more likely to bring you closer to your goal, or possibly even achieve a different, far more exciting outcome.
The key to overcome fear and live an experiment-driven life is to never take things for granted – to keep asking the “how can this be done better” questions.
Since our focus is to overcome fear, let’s take a look at how we might experiment with a topic many people avoid like the plague – public speaking.
Here’s an example of a 3 simple step process you might follow:
- The question: What experiment can you perform to challenge your fear of public speaking?
- Determine what specific action you can take to conduct a short-term experiment: One option might be to enroll in a public speaking course, and another would be to join Toastmasters. Since the idea of an experiment is to have a conclusion at which point you can analyze the data, enrolling in the public speaking course is a better fit because you will have predetermined end date to work with.
- Review what you learned from your experiment: For example, what challenged you most about the course? What could you have done better? What was your greatest strength? Your greatest weakness? Did you learn any new strategies to help you overcome your discomfort that you can continue to practice and master over time? (Keeping a journal during your experiments will make this part of the process so much easier to revisit your experiences and feelings throughout the process.)
Some experiments will help lay the foundation for creating ongoing habits, while others won’t amount to much more than a learning experience, but only you can judge the results. In other words, take what works, and let go of what doesn’t.
Tips to help you make the most of your experiments.
It’s okay to say “I don’t know.”
Some mistakenly perceive admitting they don’t know something as weakness. But when you’re challenging yourself to regularly try new things you’re meeting life’s inherent risks in a positive way and growing in the process.
Learn to filter advice.
We can learn a lot from those who have been where we want to go, but it’s important to learn to filter the information for your own purpose and circumstances. For example one expert may tell you a particular approach is terrible, and not worth the effort. Another may say it is awesome, and for him/her resulted in great success.
The bottom line is this, if you want to know if something is going to work for you, you either need to take the time to do in depth research to be certain you’re comparing apples to apples, or jump in there and experiment for yourself.
I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. Albert Einstein
Become a learning machine.
We are built to explore the world and learn from it. Tapping into our innate curiosity does two things. First, it disconnects the fear that keeps us from being engaged and enjoying life. Second, it invokes the power of questions, and questions lead to insight which is central to all forms of personal development.
Life being the great adventure that it is, there will always be experiences to challenge us, but it can be enormously empowering to know that you can overcome your fears by viewing your life as a series of remarkable experiments.
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