“Mum, my fear is bigger than me”, declared my 12-year old son.
We were exploring why he’s suddenly acquired a fear of swimming, and the fact that this fear has grown over the last couple of months.
Being a regular Kenyan mum, I forgot to be a coach and tried everything to get him swimming – including threats, punishment, and bribery.
None of these worked.
Each Tuesday, he packs his swimming gear in his bag (or tries to slink out of the house without it), and goes to school.
He comes back in the evening dragging his feet – with dry swimming gear and a turned down mouth.
Because he really wants to swim but fear is getting in the way.
So it was time for me to change track…
This scenario is a common one when it comes to working on our dreams.
We start off very strong and positive, then slowly run out of steam.
We let a lot of fears get in the way of achieving our dreams that the dreams slowly fizzle out and die.
Is this happening to you?
Is your fear bigger than the thought of achieving your dreams?
A simple process to get rid of fears
Here are some tips that have worked for me in the past and that I’m now using with my son.
- Face the fear: Turn around and look at the fear instead of allowing it to take over your life. Have a clear mental image of the fear and allow it to be as big as it wants to be. It may manifest as an animal or something scary. For some people, just taking this action is all that is needed to conquer the fear.
- Create a movie in your head of you fighting the fear and winning: For me, I have a gentle but fierce dragon called Pica. He is blueish in colour and has big teeth like one of the main dragons in the cartoon movie How to Tame Your Dragon (yes, I’m a closet cartoon-holic). When I want to fight my fears, I close my eyes and imagine flying with Pica as we fight the fear. Each fear I’ve fought in this way always starts off strong and huge. With time Pica and I always win. This may sound crazy, but it’s worked for me since 2014.
- Imagine how it will feel like when you’re chasing and fighting the fear: Put a lot of action in the visualization and turn it into a real movie. As you fight, imagine the fear getting smaller and smaller until it disappears with a poof sound. Or maybe you could cut the fear into pieces and dispose of it. For children, it works well when they imagine the fear growing smaller until it becomes like a mouse and runs away. This is what I’m trying with my son – and since he has an active imagination…
- Be patient and consistent: It may take days or even weeks to finally win this battle depending on how big the fear was and how long you’ve had it. If it’s taking you time to get results, then set aside some time each day (20 minutes maximum) and work through your movie until you win the battle.
- Replace the fear with your dream: Once you have won, come up with a clear mental image of you achieving your dreams. Put in all the Technicolor stuff that you want – colour, sounds, images, thoughts feelings, and emotions – just like in the movies. Only add people and things that you want, and remove anyone or anything that is messing up your movie. Practice your achievement movie daily from this day on. It’s best if you can do this in the morning just after waking up and in the evening just before sleeping. 15 minutes per session is good enough.
How does this process work?
This is a simple process of playing with the mind.
You see the subconscious mind, which is the one in control of our everyday habits and actions, does not distinguish between reality and fiction.
This is why your heart races and you get scared when watching a scary movie – you are literally in the movie.
In the steps I’ve given above, you’re simply turning things around and consciously programming what you don’t want out of your mind; and then reprogramming what you want into your mind.
Visualisation is one of the most powerful tools you can add to your success toolkit. It’s what successful people in all areas of life use to achieve what they want.
Back to my son…
I’m now helping him reprogram his mind into having a great experience swimming.
I used this process with my other son a few years ago when his grades had dropped to 30s and 40s.
We created an imaginary experience that he recreated each night just before he dropped off to sleep.
Within 3 months of almost daily practice, his grades moved to 80s and 90s. No extra tuition. No expensive mind-training programs. No extra books. Just a few minutes of visualization each day.
I wonder why I didn’t think of using visualisation in the first instance this time instead of letting the fear become bigger than my little boy!
Don’t let fears grow until they take over your life. Conquer your fears today and move towards your dreams.
Try this out for yourself: Examine one area in your business where fear is holding you hostage. Face the fear; create a visualization of you fighting the fear; fight and win the battle; and celebrate success.
Image credit: Stuart Miles at Free Digital Photos
Week 1 of my book 12 Weeks to Startup: How to Turn Your Skills, Talents, Knowledge and Experiences Into a Business explores fear and gives an additional exercise that you can use to work on your fears. Click this link to download a free copy of this chapter or purchase the book.