Some of us had friends when we were little who were different from the rest. They were always there for us and were always willing to play our games or share our toys. It didn’t matter if it was day or night. They were always at the ready.
Our parents may have given us odd looks at times wondering who we were talking with and why this stranger was always around, but most of the time they just didn’t care unless our friend was causing trouble. For some reason our playtime partner got off the hook and we took the brunt of it.
Having an imaginary friend can be just a part of growing up. Eventually they just seem to quit coming around as we age, and we don’t think too much about it.
What we don’t realize is we never truly grow out of our imaginary friends. In fact, the only ones that seem to go away are the nice ones.
The friends that stay have a more sinister motive and they are ruled by a single master. They are with us everywhere we go and sadly, reluctantly, you welcome them in. Their destructive behaviors demoralize you. It’s like the abusive partner that will never go away and you just let them linger. They are Anxiety, Regret, Self-Doubt, and Jealousy. There are many others and they all serve a single master: FEAR.
Your Friend Fear
Our ‘friend’ Fear constantly lurks in the shadows. When all seems to be going well it can send out its army. Maybe it’s Self Doubt which activates our Imposter Syndrome, or Guilt could rear its ugly head for not spending more time with family. Every time one of Fear’s minions comes to call we question our own self-worth. They chip away at our armor until Fear sees an opportunity.
Fear is often invited to the table when I am doing my work with business owners. Cliché terms like, “what’s keeping me up at night…” is something I hear a lot. Its presence often creates a failure to act. One example is a client who needs to hire for a key role in his business. We discussed the opportunity this position holds for future growth and the leader won’t pull the trigger on the hire.
Why? Out of fear that they will make the wrong hire or that they won’t see the results they expect. The fear is so great they worry about tanking their company off the decision.
The truth is our Fear is the very thing that creates the results we don’t want in the first place. We allow it to live rent-free in our head where it runs around smashing the dishes and placing graffiti on the walls.
When We Fail to Act, Fear Becomes Reality
The only way to stop this is to kick Fear and all the other imaginary friends out. Is it easy? No. Yet there are steps you can take:
1. Recognize Fear for what it is – You may have heard the acronym False Emotions Appearing Real. Fear is just that. Therefoe, it is your mind playing tricks on you to develop the worst possible outcome which almost never happens unless you allow it. Shine some light on the monster hiding in the closet and you will take your first step to ridding it.
2. Flip the coin – While Fear can be an ugly monster, it can also be a helpful tool. Fear can expose the obstacles that prevent success. Using this trait can help you formulate solutions that prevent negative outcomes.
3. Act! – When Fear occupies your mind, it can be paralyzing and cause people to wait until it is too late. That is why taking action is very important. Doing something, even if it turns out to be a small action, is better than waiting for the worst.
4. Alter your behavior – Success is based on right action. Performing the right behaviors leads to greater results. Study the behaviors of successful people. Emulate the actions that lead to positive outcomes. For that reason, focus on the positive instead of dwelling on the negative.
5. Seek help – Having a group of peers, a mentor, or a coach can be quite helpful when working through Fear. A combination of all three is a powerful deterrent when feelings of self-doubt creep in.
6. Above all stay true – People often try new things and give up when they don’t realize positive results right away. Build momentum. Stay consistent with your direction. If something is not working right, pivot don’t backpedal.
Fear is the imaginary friend we don’t want. Follow these steps to creating a more successful, fulfilling life.
Which action will you take to move your unwanted friend, Fear, onto other things and out of your way? How can I help? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to me.