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First aid for fear

."Never never change your goal
when you're feeling scared, discouraged or depressed."
- Barbara Sher


"I'll tell you what's to stop you from letting fear stop you. Everything in this section. Because I happen to believe that missing out on your dreams and never finding out what you're capable of is a hell of a price to pay for peace.

You have the right to get what you want and become all you can be- and sometimes that means you have the right to act even when every nerve in your body is screaming stop! The secret is to turn fear into a companion, advisor, friend.

Fear is the natural companion to creative action."
- Barbara Sher


Barb's most common disguises of fear:

The following might be experienced as you try to do or get what you want:
- desire to sleep, sudden tiredness
- desire to eat, suddenly feel hungry
- sudden urge to reading, playing games, watching t.v.
- you suddenly think it can wait till tomorrow
- sudden blank mind: you had plenty of plans but now you're the village idiot
- other plans and dreams come gushing into your head
- sudden loss of interest in your goal (hidden fear will try to trick you into changing
your goal whenever it gets challenging)
- sudden conviction that you don't have what it takes to reach the goal (what was I thinking, what have I got myself into!)


Stage fright vs survival fear
Every time you try anything worth doing, you're going to feel uncertainty and self doubt as well as challenge and exhilaration. That is healthy fear. Also called stage fright. it's a good friend that let's you know you're on the right track, that what you're doing is big enough for you.

However, stage fright is complicated by another kind of fear called survival fear. Survival fear is most common in "first generation winners"-people whose family's didn't know how to prepare them, for action. If you feel a mistake or failure would be so devastating that you don't even dare try, that's survival fear. So is the paralysis that strikes when you demand a performance of yourself that as beyond your skill and experience. If you think someone you love will be hurt or hate or divorce you if you start getting what you want that's survival fear too.

All survival fear is exaggerated. The antidote: Do it and find out that nothing terrible happens after all. But that's precisely what survival fear prevents us from doing.

How to tell stage fright from survival fear:
Encouragement and a hard times session will remove stage fright.
Survival fear is too strong for that. You can't bluff your way through it. Because it's trying to tell you that something is missing in your plan of action.(Practical preparation, emotional support, permission to lower one's perfectionist standards, etc.)

To overcome survival fear:
Respect the fear and pay attention to it. Decode the message expressed by the survival fear and take care of your needs.


1st Survival fear message : prepare

You feel afraid because you have never done this before and didn't know how. Your fear is asking you to acquire knowledge before you move on. Prepare, inform yourself, get instructions, rehearse). Here, your network of friends and barn-raising can be useful


Super me/super fool
Explore the worst possibility and the ideal possibility. Reality will fall somewhere in between. Use ideal possibility to preserve enhusiasm and self-esteem. Use worst possibility to identify the areas where you have to reinforce your plan.

I disagree with people who think one can be over prepared.

      2nd Survival message: lower your standards- at first
You've never done this before. If you expect to do it as well as someone who's done this fort the thousandth time, you'll be in trouble. You won't be able to do it at all

This fear shows you that you might suffer from perfectionism.. Your vision and ambition may have outgrown your experience and skill.
Start at the beginning , be kind with yourself. Give yourself praise and allow yourself to play.

Begin in a risk-free arena and gradually work your way up

Creative first step: start badly
Do a bunch of bad drawings. Then you'll realize you're not that bad after all

Graduated risk principle
Make sure your reach is always one step ahead of your grasp.
Give yourself simple tasks to master then gradually introduce harder ones.

Allow yourself to be scared.
Move. Pace the floor, punch the outer wall, shred paper, shiver, dance, make noise, moan, complain, growl scream, cry. I will never understand why we were taught that we had to behave like mature adults under these circumstances. Lets dispense with maturity. If you're doing difficult scary grown-up things that are right for you, that's enough. You shouldn't have to act like a grown up too. You have the right to act like a absolute infant - right up to the moment when you walk through the door or the voice on the other end of the phone says "hello?"

when you come off stage, or hang up the phone, you can go to pieces again. But while on stage be a pro.

Task therapy
Focus your attention on the task, away from yourself.

Don't be afraid of mistakes.
You will never learn or accomplish anything of value if you cannot let yourself make mistakes. Failure is the true test of greatness

Reward yourself
Reward1: Chose something you before you do the hard thing, and then savor it once the hard thing has been done.
Reward2: Chose a reward you give yourself often just because you are you and worth it. Treat yourself like a first class person no matter what you've done or not done.

Never punish yourself for skipping a step- or ten.
If you plan by cutting out these little ways of being good to yourself.. They remind you that you have every right to be on earth and enjoy it just because you're alive.

      3rd Survival message: fear of success
Focus on immediate success. The success you get from the step you have accomplished up to this point. Forget long-term success. You might be disappointed or too busy to savor it when it comes. But the immediate success you can savor right now.

Fear that success might bring loneliness

The fear that when we need support the most- the moment we move towards our goals-we get less of it. Your family and friends will get angry at you. Here, the message from your fear is : you can not go for your goal alone. Get yourself some emotional support.

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Recommended readings:

Barbara Sher