Does fear stop you from doing the things you want to do in your career, in your life?
You’re not alone. Author and Life Coach Hilary Gallo specialises in ‘Fear Hacking’, the process of addressing and acknowledging personal fears to overcome them and move forward. His ‘Hack’ process teaches you how we make fear our friend. Instead of fighting it, Hilary encourages us to welcome it in, to have a conversation with it and to learn from it. From this start, the hack gets deeper and becomes a whole new way of thinking about power and how we challenge ourselves to grow and evolve.
“One surprising discovery people make in these workshops is just how much everyone is struggling with fear. It is easy to think that others are just fine, but once we start to talk to others, we realise we are far from alone.”
Here, he shares eight fear hacking tips to enable confidence and personal growth.
- Make Fear Your Friend
Our fears often feel like something big and overwhelming that we avoid, deny or fight. “Don’t be frightened” can often be the worst thing to say as we face our fears. Instead, if we learn to accept how we feel, we can start to do something about it. Try sitting down with your fears like you would with a friend. Get to know each other and have a conversation. What are our fears telling us?
- Fear Dig
Dig into your fears – ideally by sharing them with someone else. Start by telling each other one thing you fear and then explore what is beneath the fear. As soon as you get an answer, take what you have discovered and ask what is beneath that. For example, if the fear is leaving the house, ask what will happen when you go? Keep asking more to uncover answers. Dig down into what the fear is really about, and you may be surprised.
- Be a Fear Detective: Ask “What Evidence do I have?”
Fear works in the imagination. It can be said to stand for “False Evidence Appearing Real”. It is like waking up in the night, hearing a noise downstairs and believing we have a burglar.
The truth is that the house has moved because the central heating has cooled or the wind is blowing. There is no burglar. We have to ask ourselves what real evidence do we have for our fears? Remember – Fear is a Liar. Don’t be deceived!
- Separate Danger and Fear
Danger is something that exists in the external world that is real. In some activities, like rock climbing, we can actively manage danger. If we know we have put ourselves in safe hands or have done wise preparation; then our danger is likely to be reduced. Fear is different. It lives inside us, and although it has a relationship with danger, it is not the same thing. By being aware of the difference, we can start to manage both the danger and our fear.
- Normalise “Imposter Syndrome”
“Imposter Syndrome” is the feeling we have that we’ll be found out – one day, someone will tap us on the shoulder, to tell us that everyone has realised that we are entirely out of our depth. The truth is that 4 out of 5 successful people feel this way and the feeling tends to get worse the more senior or well known we are. The sooner we start to accept this feeling as a regular part of human nature, the better.
- Grow your Comfort Zone
A Comfort Zone is a great thing to have. The only problem is that we don’t grow it by staying inside it. The reverse is true – if we remain comfortable our comfort zone gets smaller and smaller as we do less and less. Instead, start to accept that the only way we grow our comfort zone is by stepping outside of it – perhaps with one foot at a time instead of both together. By moving into what initially makes us uncomfortable, our comfort zone miraculously enlarges, and our confidence grows.
- Make Fear your Road-Sign
If we challenge ourselves and do new things, we will consistently find ourselves facing new situations and fresh challenges. The thing we label fear is a sign that we are doing this and moving forward. It is a positive signal that tells us we are growing. The easy way to rid ourselves of this feeling is to stop doing new things and to stop growing. This option is uniquely human – plants and animals can’t interfere with their growth like we can. Think of fear as a road-sign signalling to us that something important lies ahead.
- Re-Frame Anxiety into Excitement
Researchers who study human behaviour tell us that when they analyse the body chemically, they can’t tell the difference between “anxiety” and “excitement”. We tend to label them differently depending on the situation, but they are the same. So, next time you have that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach as you wait for something important, try telling yourself that you are excited rather than fearful.