Think back to your first roller coaster ride.
First, there was the wait
The dreaded anticipation of thinking about the first drop.
Your heart thumping like a loud drum.
Your stomach in knots.
And your mind and body fiercely alert with a strange mix of dread and excitement.
Then, step two—the climb
You step into the cart of death.
As you start the ascent, the clink, clink, clink of the chain lift brings on the goosebumps.
Your heartbeat increases during this painfully slow trip.
A feeling of dread washes over you as you inch closer to the dizzying height of the first drop.
Fear takes hold just before your epic nosedive, from soaring height to dramatic descent.
Then, your short wave of terror morphs into a strange euphoria as you’re hurtled down that first 80-degree drop.
Soon you’re cruising to the finish and you experience feelings of relief, joy, and excitement.
Surprisingly you’re now ready to jump back in line for another run.
The second and third rides are not nearly as terrifying as the first.
By the fourth run, you feel like you’ve conquered this giga coaster.
Your initial fear has morphed into exhilaration.
The rollercoaster of everyday life
Now, think of something you really want to do but it brings on feelings of dread, unease, and insecurity.
These feelings are comparable to the strange terror-euphoria-but-in-the-moment mix of feelings you experienced during the span of your first roller coaster ride.
If you’ve ever given a speech, competed in a triathlon, or had to lead a team you probably experienced similar feelings.
And running a meeting? Fuhgeddaboudit! That was almost-pass-out time.
Think about the night before a past challenge. Remember the thoughts that rushed into your head upon waking up? Fear, worry, and dread dominated.
But usually, at the end of the day, the worst case scenarios you envisioned did not materialize.
Like the roller coaster ride, feelings of relief, contentment, and, if you nailed it, exhilaration might have washed over you at the end.
Most fears never come to fruition
The dread of facing another challenge is normal.
For some, the dread is a serious obstacle they must work incredibly hard at to overcome.
The worst case scenarios you sometimes envision are stories of your own making.
Your mind manufacturing dread.
A false narrative that will always haunt you, unless you learn to beat it day after day.
Just like the evening news, we often overdramatize by overthinking.
Embrace the suck
I strongly believe that forced repetition is the best way to beat the fear monster.
As David Goggins says here, “When you dream big, you must know that it will entail you falling off the horse many times along the journey. When your mind is telling you to quit and give up, remember all the repetition and sacrifice made along the way. Sometimes the only thing we can do is sack it the fuck up and press on!”
You have a dream and start the steps to see it through. But soon after you start, bad thoughts enter your mind.
So, it’s not just the anticipation that brings on the dread. Once you start to actually do the thing you fear most, your dream, it becomes a nightmare.
And, as Goggins said, to get past it you have to “embrace the suck.”
Think of how often you conjure up bad visions—overthinking each situation to the detriment of your well-being.
Maybe anticipating a thing you want to do immediately calls up past events where you experienced feelings of failure, rejection, and inadequacy.
And once you start the thing, past negative experiences and/or feelings of inadequacy are amplified.
If you work to be the observer of your own emotions, you’ll soon discover how you often succumb to these exaggerated visions.
And if you activate the habit of looking at each vision in a calm, rational way, you’ll be less swayed by your fears.
The ingrained fear response saved our ancestors from the jaws of predators. Your fear response is holding you back.
You need to fight those feelings by realizing that discipline equals freedom. And your discipline grows through the power of habit.
Embracing the suck is forced repetition — doing things that scare you, repeatedly.
And, this kind of discipline frees you.
So, continually think about…
What you want to get past.
How you will get there.
Then move with intention, daily.
How to show up, daily
I agree with Natalie Sisson when she describes the power of intention…
“Intentions really act as a reminder of how you want to show up in the world and live each day. They give you the purpose to show up to meet your goals!”
Your intentions are there to support your goals.
You have goals but you turn out daily with intention.
Intention is you taking the baby steps needed to make small improvements in whatever you want to get better at—running, speaking, writing.
And for me, it’s about instituting a best practice to keep fear from continually knocking you off the stool.
You must have a daily routine because good habits can make or break you. Habits to help blast past these bad thoughts. Habits to create a place where the coolness of judgment prevails.
Get busy beating the fear
1. What do you really want to do?
Does it bring on a crush of anxiety?
Well, realize that facing a big hairy challenge will set off alarm bells. (This is your limbic lizard brain taking over).
And a feeling of dread before doing The Thing is completely normal. (Remember our roller coaster ride?)
Realize that the bad scenarios you conjure up will most likely never come to fruition.
So how do you move and do The Thing?…
2. Master a forced repetition mindset
As David Goggins said, Embrace the suck.
The fear monster doesn’t like forced repetition.
So, think about…
Your challenge and the fears that come with it.
How you are going to meet that challenge.
And your steps to get there.
3. Then move with intention, daily
You now have a big fat objective (taking on your challenge).
A series of steps to reach that goal.
You know you’ll have a short wave of terror before you do it.
And, once you start on the path it’s going to be an up and down journey.
Your dream might even become a bit of a nightmare for a while.
Just keep moving with intention. It’s what will support you.
It’s a just-get-busy process most people won’t take on.
Fear can kill your spirit. Don’t let it.
Set a big fat, scary goal.
Learn how to embrace the suck.
And turn out daily with intention.
See you at the end of the ride 🙂
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