Whether it is fear of success or fear of failure – you are still paralyzed.

As a classroom teacher, I face students daily who are afraid to respond when a question is asked to the whole group. I have all different types in the room, and I recently noticed a pattern. Some know the answers to questions, but are slow to respond or they almost whisper their response. I call this “fear of success.” Others, don’t think they know the answer and fear being ridiculed, hence “fear of failure.”

So, no one answers?

The truth is, many people experience the paralyzing affect of fear in their day to day lives. Yet, as the statement made in FDR’s well-known inaugural address goes, “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It’s tough to unpack that when are experiencing the contrary. Life presents many obstacles that can create fear and anxiety. We wake up anticipating something that will cause us discomfort unless we are intentional about creating better outcomes for ourselves.

It takes COURAGE!

In a recent conversation, I discussed the notion of courage. My friend stated that it only takes 20 seconds of courage to move you out of that state of paralysis that I mentioned earlier. Twenty seconds is just enough time to decide to get unstuck. So, we GO FOR IT, and find out that it wasn’t that bad after all.

Here are 8 tips to exercise COURAGE and eliminate FEAR:

  1. Face your fears and embrace them! Instead of feeling like I have to repress what I fear, I openly dialogue about it in my mind. I decide if it is something that I NEED to get over, under, or through it. I courageously embrace the full responsibility of what I fear and proceed.
  2. Visualize success on the other side of what you fear. Years ago, I slipped and fell on a puddle of water left in the bathroom by my toddler son removing his bath toys from the tub. Now, twenty-plus years later, I still check the floor and envision a safe passage on the tile. I focus less on fear of falling and more on walking gracefully where I know there is potential to fall.
  3. Be kind to yourself about your fears. Some people beat themselves up by feeling like they do not measure up to someone’s standards. If someone starts to “you should” shame you, move away from that toxicity. It only serves to keep you stuck. Extend grace to yourself by being kind.
  4. Breathe! Sometimes, in our paralysis, we literally forget to breathe. This only enhances our anxieties.
  5. Let someone know about what you fear so they can help you with other perspectives. Communication can solve so many problems. Talking through what you fear can be both enlightening and liberating.
  6. Take the time to educate yourself about what you fear. I believe that most of the race relations issues in this country would be solved if people took the time to get to know the people they fear threatens their safety and way of life.
  7. Don’t forget to celebrate conquering that which you fear. Celebrating small wins is super important. It builds resiliency.
  8. Finally, consider the “worse case scenario” and have a positive plan for it. This reminds me of the shoot for the moon and it’s okay to land among the stars saying. Worst-case scenario, you took courageous steps to defeat the fear – which means you moved forward.

This is how I live. I am a firm believer that decisions end confusion and courageously facing my fears allows me to move forward on the continuum of life. In both the Authentic Best Life Workshops for Teens and Young Adults, as well as, the Authentic ME Workshops for Women, we explore the notion of being courageous and conquering fear to live our best life and reach our highest potential.