What are you afraid of? We all have fears of some kind, whether it’s fear of public speaking, heights, change, failure or success, there’s usually something that we’re afraid of. Sometimes we know what it is, but sometimes it’s buried deep within. This fear can be sabotaging us and holding us back, yet we never quite know why because it is so deeply buried.

People often tell me that they can’t change something they’re afraid of. “It’s just who I am,” they say. Yet I know from experience that’s not true. I used to be so afraid of public speaking that nothing would have convinced me to stand up in front of a group of 2 people, let alone 2,000 and yet now I do it regularly. How can that be?

There are many other things I used to be afraid of or uncomfortable with – change for example – and yet now I embrace change and actively move towards it.

I think the first step in transforming any fear is to realize that you have it and secondly, how it’s holding you back. I’ve been very fortunate in my life to have been around people who saw things in me that I couldn’t see in myself. One boss I worked for many years ago obviously saw that learning to speak in public would improve my self-confidence tremendously. How he saw that I could do this I don’t know. Up until then I had successfully avoided any situation where I would have to speak up in front of a group or even be the center of attention anywhere.

I was working in the Marketing department of a company and my boss was sending some of his marketing executives on a course to improve their presentation skills. He decided to send me with them – I hated him for it at the time! I can’t describe to you how terrified I was. I wasn’t just uncomfortable with it, I was really terrified. But what, exactly, was I afraid of? Many things I think: saying something wrong, appearing stupid, being ‘seen’ (I liked to be invisible and work behind the scenes).

One of the worst things about this course, from my perspective, was that our presentations were being video-taped so all the participants could offer feedback on each other’s presentations. You know how they say that many people fear public speaking more than they fear dying? That would have been me at that time. Death seemed like a very welcome alternative to me at that point.

Of course initially I sat there, watching other people give their presentations, just dreading the time when they’d get round to me. Then something happened. One of my colleagues, a marketing executive I’d known for several years as very confident, charming and never at a loss for words, was giving one of his presentations. For some reason on this occasion he stumbled over his words. He couldn’t think what to say. He stopped. He smiled and apologized, people muttered words of encouragement, and then he continued and finished his presentation.

At that point I started to see things differently. Even though he had stumbled over his words and forgotten what to say, people didn’t ridicule him, they were supportive. He didn’t feel like a failure and nobody thought of him that way. He handled it with grace. I suddenly watched the other presentations in a new way. I started to realize that I could be at least as good as many of the people there. I started to have hope that I could actually do it without looking totally ridiculous. I did several presentations over the two-day period that we were at this course. I wasn’t the best, but I wasn’t the worst either. I survived. People still spoke to me. What had I been afraid of all those years?

I’ll never be a slick, put together motivational speaker, but then I don’t want to be. I’m just me. When I stand in front of a group of people to make a presentation I focus on them and on the information I’m presenting to them. I make mistakes sometimes, the equipment might fail sometimes. It doesn’t matter. I can handle it.

How much energy did I waste by being afraid of speaking in front of people for so many years? A lot! Here’s the thing about fear – it’s not real. It’s something that we imagine. If I do this, then that might happen. What’s the worst that can happen anyway?

When you have fears that you don’t want to face, not only are you wasting energy by trying to suppress and hang on to those fears, but think of all the ways in which they are holding you back. All the things you’re not doing because you’re afraid. Do yourself a big favor – identify and face those fears now. Here are some tips to help you do so:

• Make a list of things you’re afraid of – this could include something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done because something’s holding you back (even if you don’t know what’s holding you back yet)
• Think about how much time, energy, opportunity you’ve wasted by hanging on to these fears
• Pick one and decide to face it and let it go
• Get support – find others who will help you to overcome your fear (if there’s nobody you know who would support you, contact me – I know people who will support you)
• Take action – but always make sure you have supportive people around you when you do.

When you finally do the thing you are most afraid of, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. There really is nothing to fear – except fear itself.

Author's Bio: 

Linda Binns provides practical information, tools and guidance to people interested in personal and spiritual growth. Join her free membership program for access to great resources and gifts at HarmonyInandOut.com.

Linda Binns is author of Feng Shui for Your Relationships: Changing Your Environment to Create Better Relationships and The Energetic Edge: How Changing Your Surroundings = BIG Success (TheEnergeticEdge.com)