As we talk about returning to work or finding a new job in this new series of articles, one of the key points we have to tackle is that of fear.
Fear can be a debilitating emotion, but it can also be a tool for empowerment. If we face our fears and then conquer them, we will likely feel an immense sense of power and accomplishment. The next time we are faced with something a bit difficult, our fear may not be as intense. We know we can do it.
If we don’t face our fears, or if we never learn to deal with our fears in a rational sense, then whenever we are confronted with something new we’ll have difficulty tackling the event.
For instance, let’s say you are shy. You hate to speak in public. You are returning to work after a long time stay at home taking care of the family and you now need to interview. We know the interview process can be intimidating, even for the most social of people. How does one who has an intense fear of public speaking handle sitting around a table of six strangers and talking about their best and worse attributes?
Stephen Balzac, President of 7 Steps Ahead, says tackling fear head on is key. “Fear exists to alert us to danger and enable us to respond appropriately.” This is great, he adds, when you are faced with an immediate danger – like coming across a wild animal in the woods while out for a walk.
Yet when you are dealing with a nebulous threat, says Balzac, fear is not as great – but there are steps you can take to make the fear work for you rather than against you.
First, give yourself some worry time. I love this idea! My worry time is my running time; during my morning runs I worry about everything I know I have to get done for the day, and how I’m going to get it done. Or I contemplate an issue I’m having with a web design project, and by the time the run is over I have worked through that issue – and possibly many others.
It may seem tough to find ‘worry time’ in an already over-scheuduled life, but the truth is if you set aside this time, even a few minutes each day, you’ll find that the time you have to spend on other things is much more productive.
Balzac says, “When something has us upset, worried, or scared, that’s a signal that we’re perceiving a threat. Our brains will continue to pop up that fear until we deal with it.” So, the faster you can ‘deal with it’, the faster you can move on to more productive items.
During worry time, deal with these fears. Examine them. Ask if they are realistic. Balzac adds, “The very act of scheduling time to deal with threats is often enough to rob them of their power.”