First Things First: We All Work at Overcoming Fear Differently

I used the words “smash through it” as a concept, but we all work through and transcend fear in our own ways. I fully realize that – use my words as a guide for your own life, doing it your own way. The key is to keep doing it! I’m in the same boat, by the way – I’m scared about speaking publicly to support my up-coming book, Beyond ADHD (stage fright), and I’m going to be speaking across the world, so here goes something!

Whether I’m speaking on suicide prevention (I walk my talk here), ADHD misdiagnosing, personal development topics to corporate audiences, anxiety or whatever else it is, I know that I need to face my fear of public speaking, re-frame it, do the practice to get good at it and just get out there!

Whatever it is for you, whatever you’re facing, there are ways to get help, to learn ways to face things and to learn from the fear. I promise you that, as crippling as anxiety and fear can be. I know it very well.

At The Root: Self-Compassion and Vulnerability

Self-compassion and vulnerability are absolutely critical in overcoming fear. Things like perfectionism, shame, guilt and learned behavior patterns from our parents, as well as traumatic experiences from the past can scar us – I know all about that as well, from being in a jail cell at the age of twenty-two, being in a courtroom feeling embarrassed about the public hearing about my issues with women and anger (due to my childhood, which have since been worked through with self-parenting and other tools toward healing), having hundreds of jobs, dropping out of university at the age of thirty-three after one year, attempting suicide in 2011, committing myself with my wife looking on, crying in early 2013 and so on – that’s just a bit of it.

Heck – I tell the world about my mistakes and the issues I’ve faced on a daily basis on Twitter and elsewhere! My point is that you aren’t alone in having fears. They race through my head and heart as well. This is part of life. What we choose to do with it is the difference-maker in this journey of ours. How we choose to act and face it makes the difference between success and regrets late in life. I can’t stand the idea of not going for it, of not turning my life around and soaring like I know I’m meant to.

Pleasure and Pain: Our Associations (In Our Minds) Change Everything

I remember learning about neuro-associations back in the early 2000’s when on welfare briefly so that I could make a new start and move out of my Dad’s place (which was a huge turning point for me, in hindsight – a crucial decision). It made perfect sense, learning that when I associate enough pain with any experience, whatever it is, I can break the habit or behavior and learn to override it with a new one – a form of conditioning, as some of you out there will recognize.

A great example is procrastination – when you learn to link indecision with pain, realizing that it can be a form of self-sabotage that cripples your progress after a reasonable amount of time pondering what decision to make, you “trigger” yourself to step up and make a decision due to conditioning yourself to do so. I’m doing this with my fear of public speaking, and I’m more pumped than ever to speak to crowds of all sizes!

I’ve lightly touched upon some ways to work toward overcoming fear and “smashing” it, surprising yourself with how courageous, resilient and capable you are (then learning to expect that in the future, knowing what you’ve already overcome!). There’s a lot more to touch on, but this is a great starter. Ask yourself:

  • What will I regret if I don’t go for it in life, if I don’t take some risks and put myself out there? Will I end up paying a much bigger price in the end?

Yours in fierce purpose, passion and gratitude,

Jeff