Stoic writers and teachers believed, that we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.
Do you agree? If we take a closer look towards our fears, most probably you will be able to conclude that majority of our fears never come to reality. So yes, we often suffer a lot in our minds, predicting what might happen if things go wrong.
Fear as we know, is the basic emotion of human being, and it is absolutely necessary. The main function is to protect us. However what happens if our fear protects us from growing? What if our fear converts to so called “overprotection”. This is when we choose to play safe, this is when we stay within our comfort zone and this is when we obtain the same results.
Today I am inviting you to put your fears under a microscope.
And for that I have found an amazing exercise, which was created by Tim Ferriss, human behavior specialist and writer.
In order to be able to do the exercise, please see below the link for presentation with 3 pages:
(Before continuing reading, please make sure you open the presentation!)
We start with a question: “What if I…?”
This is whatever you fear, whatever is causing you anxiety, whatever you’re putting off. It could be asking someone out, ending a relationship, asking for a promotion, quitting a job, starting a company. It could be anything.
We continue with the first column, “Define,” here you’re writing down all of the worst things you can imagine happening if you take that step. You can have several, but it is better to list at least 10, so spend some time on this and write down them all. Anything that you can imagine or “know for sure” that will happen.
And then you go to the “Prevent” column. In that column, you write down the answer to:
What could I do to prevent each of these bullets from happening?
OR at the very least, decrease the likelihood even a little bit?
Here you are working with every fear that you put in the column define. How can you prevent this from happening?
Then we go to “Repair.” So if the worst-case scenarios happen, the question is the following:
What could I do to repair the damage even a little bit, or who could I ask for help?
Ask yourself a question:
What might be the benefits of an attempt or a partial success?
Tim Ferris explains, that here we’re playing up the fears and really taking a conservative look at the upside. So if you attempted whatever you’re considering, what could be the partial success of it? For example your confidence, or new skills development , your emotional health, financial independance, what would it be for you?
What might be the benefits of the action you defined in the beginning (What if …)? Spend 10 to 15 minutes on this.
This might be the most important, so don’t skip it:
“The Cost of Inaction.”
Tim Ferriss reminds us, that humans are very good at considering what might go wrong if we try something new. What we don’t often consider is the atrocious cost of the status quo — not changing anything.
So you should ask yourself:
If I avoid this action or decision, what might my life look like in six months, 12 months, three years?
And really get detailed about it – what will your life look like emotionally, financially, physically?
I completely agree with Tim Ferriss, you will find that some of your fears are very well-founded.
But you shouldn’t conclude that without first putting them under a microscope.
And it doesn’t make all the hard times and the hard choices – easy, but it can make a lot of them easier.
The quote that Tim shared in his presentation really kept me thinking:
“Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.”
The hard choices — what we most fear doing, asking, saying — these are very often exactly what we most need to do. And the biggest challenges and problems we face will never be solved with comfortable conversations, whether it’s in our own head or with other people.
Keeping in mind the words of stoic writers, “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality”, I invite you to ask yourself the following:
Where in your lives right now might be very important to define your fears?
I invite you to know your fears and to define when non action is no longer an option for you.
This exercise is a practical way to start working on your fears, and as usual if you have any questions or comments, or if you decided to have a closer look on your fears or try coaching sessions, I will be more than happy to be part of your journey.
Have a great week ahead,