Fear can create a major block to successfully creating sustainable changes in your life. Fear of failure, fear of success, or fear of the unknown can contribute to ending up feeling stuck or paralyzed. Inaction doesn’t create change, action does. So here are four strategies for moving from fear into action:
- Recognize your emotions. Many people try to hide or ignore “negative” feelings like fear. Ignoring them only allows them to strengthen and become more overwhelming. Talking and thinking about your concerns can help you explore the issues that underlie your fear.
- Accept your fears. Telling yourself not to worry or criticizing yourself for being afraid won't make these feelings go away. Accept that you may experience some fear at different times in life, and focus on ways to manage the anxiety.
- Reduce stress. Finding ways to manage your stress will help lower your overall level of anxiety. Try different ways of reducing stress to find out what works best for you. This could include:
Make a plan. Take your top one or two fears and create a “what if” strategy knowing that in many cases, the “what ifs” rarely come to pass. During times of transition in the workplace, for example, you may fear for your job. Is this understandable and common? Yes. Does having that fear change whether or not you will or won’t lose your job? No. There are many times people have feared the worst and it hasn’t come to pass. There are also many inspiring stories of people who feared the worst, did lose their job, but later found their way to even greater success and happiness as a result of the change.
- Spending time with family and friends.
- Focusing on hobbies and other activities you enjoy.
- Taking a walk, meditating, or enjoying a bath.
- Exercising regularly.
- Reading a funny book or watching a funny movie.
What if your fear became a reality? Going through the following questions can help you formulate your plan:
- Who – would you reach out to?
- What – information do you need and what actions would you take?
- Where – would you go for resources?
- When – would you take these actions?
- How – would you choose to show up to the challenge so you can create the best outcome? (Note: creating a statement such as: I am a creative problem solver or I am able to accept help and support helps to describe who you would choose to be in the circumstance vs showing up feeling victimized by your fear.
What would be different in your life during times of fear or anxiety if you were to stop, take a breath, and create a plan instead of becoming paralyzed or stuck? How could taking your patients and their caregivers through a process like this when they are facing major fears and anxiety help them?
Yes, coaching them through some or all of these steps may take extra time. However, you will empower them and help them to be more self-sufficient and resilient while most likely increasing their engagement in their care. This can eventually save you time and energy while potentially increasing patient satisfaction.