Facing Your Fears
Bit of a dramatic title for this one folks, however, I was inspired to write this after running a successful session with Scottish Water this week. During the session we explored how to embrace change; whether that was a career change or progression or a shift in ways of working - which, let's be honest, we've all had due to the pandemic.
With any change there is an element of fear - will the change work? how well will it work? what will the fall out be? And countless more questions will invariably crop up.
How can we cope with the unknown surrounding change and handle the concerns or fears that come with it?
Being a coach I love a question as they reveal our fears as we all as the answers within ourselves.
Embrace Your Fears of change
Understandably, we fear change as it often leads us to the unknown where we feel we have little to no control.
For some of us - working outside of that control, that comfort zone is really tough, for others we relish it and embrace the challenge connected to change.
Neither approach or mindset is right or wrong; however, both can become a problem if we and our work is affected negatively.
Our fear of change can stop us from moving forwards effectively or even at all. We often feel literally stuck and helpless. This may be compounded by a fear of failure that also inhibits us from making progress.
If this is you then consider the following questions to get to the root cause of your concerns:
What is making you apprehensive about this change? Really get to the root cause of your anxiety about the change to pick it apart and understand what is a fact and what is merely a limiting belief.
How have you handled change in the past and what can you learn from these experiences? By looking back to learn from past wins and failures you can decide what to apply to the current change or fear you have.
Where do you have control? Often we feel we don't have any control over a situation, however, by delving deep we will see that we will invariably have some control and can then increase this.
How can you regain control? This may be turning the dial up in certain areas or taking back control of a situation - be brave here.
By picking apart our fears and delving into them we will soon separate fact from fiction and we'll begin to understand where our fears come from.
Often it is learnt behaviour from a parent or care giver - you can now choose to rewrite your script and make choices that work for you when you respond.
Many of my clients set themselves challenges to become more courageous when it comes to their concerns and fears - one client said it was all about being more brave which I love as it was her catch phrase to spur her on when she had a confidence wobble.
Consider where you can be more brave when it comes to your fears; is it asking 'that' question in a meeting? Or leading a team? Heading up a project? Giving a presentation?
Where can you be more brave to help yourself grow and develop?
In the second instance where we relish that challenge, we may find that we take more risks, unnecessarily, or that we do not always take into account everyone’s point of view - we just want the challenge to be completed, the obstacle to be overcome.
To help with this approach - consider everyone who is involved - what are their thoughts, opinions and routes to a solution or to navigate the change? How can all of these options be brought together?
By giving everyone a voice and an opportunity to be heard, to air their view then it is highly likely the change you are dealing with will be easier to manage.
It may also help to think about who you know who deals with change well and ask for their advice - using role models, coaches and mentors can help you navigate some tricky situations as their advice and guidance will enable you to feel less alone, have someone to bounce ideas off of and learn from.
Identify people who handle change really well and ask yourself:
Who do you respect and look up to for guidance?
What more can you learn from them?
And of course - who can you be a role model to?
Don't forget about your internal role model or your inner mentor - invariably these are much harder to access especially when we are feeling stressed or in a negative mindset. Many of us have a very vocal inner critic - that annoying little voice which pops up when we least need it!
Now I can talk for hours about inner critics and imposter syndrome, however, today I’d recommend you embrace your inner critic - they have appeared for a reason and generally it is to keep you safe by warning you not to do something or to take care.
You can this by bringing your inner mentor into play - often seen as a gut feeling or appears as a positive, guiding voice. Placate your negative inner critic and ask your inner mentor for advice and guidance.
Using your past explorations will help with this as will noting down all of your skills, strengths, experience and expertise - this is Your Awesome List.
I encourage you to go and ask others to add to your Awesome List - colleagues, friends, family, your partner, the dog - fill it up! You may well be surprised by what they have written - we take ourselves and our quality traits for granted so this is a fantastic reminder of all that we are capable of and we can then apply our traits, skills & strengths to help us face and embrace our fears as well as handle change in a proactive and positive way.
It may not always be apparent where we can make such a positive impact, so begin by thinking about what areas in your role or team or department need improvement and who could benefit from your influence.
Once identified, consider what you can do and how you can make a change. Use Your Awesome List and consider what can you bring from other areas of your life to make improvements.
Some key questions to consider with this:
What is the difference you want to make?
What do people ask for your help with?
What skills do you want to use more of & how can you do so?
Finally start to think about others around you - who is struggling to cope with change, who is anxious about their role and work. It may take you reaching out to them to offer help or suggest that you work through these fears and concerns together to feel stronger and more resilient:
Who needs your help?
How can you help and guide them
Who can you mentor?
Who can you champion? Who needs your voice to help elevate them within the organisation?
Of course it works both ways - if you want or need that help, a mentor or someone to help highlight your worth - go and ask!
Take the situation you are fearful of and write down all of your concerns down and applying Worst, Best and Most Likely Case Scenario to them.
This will enable you to stop catastrophising as you see a more realistic outcome in the Most Likely Case Scenario. You can then begin to plan for all of the scenarios so that you are fully prepared.
Try not to dwell on the Worst Case Scenario - plan for it but focus on the Best and Most Likely Case Scenarios to keep yourself working towards these.
You can take this further and explore the benefits of this change for you - by switching your mindset to a more positive approach you will diminish your worries - every time a concern pops up - remember the benefits.
Finally, consider the changes you want to make for yourself and your personal development and growth - perhaps in your role, in your team or on a project or even out of work?
As you see yourself evolve, learn new things and grow you will feel more able to take on things that scare you or cause you to feel anxious - the more we deal with change the more adept we become at handling it.