Don't allow fear to hold you back anymore!

by Marion Licchiello-Lenz
(New York)


Is fear holding you back? How do you feel when you are not able to accomplish something because you are afraid?

Have you heard the saying that F-E-A-R is ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’ or ‘Fantasized Evidence Appearing Real’?

Perhaps you were somewhere that you wanted to get up and speak but the palpitations were so bad you couldn’t. Maybe you want to audition for American Idol but are unable to get up in front of an audience. Are you ready to be on America’s Next Top Model but fear is holding you back?

Now, I want you to think about when you conquered a fear. Think about that time when you said “I’m going to do this anyway” and you did. Do you remember that feeling of pure freedom, of exhilaration, or joy? I do!

I would like to share with you a little bit I know about “Fear”. I am going to fill you in on why I feel the above statement is 100% true. Think about this for a moment. If you close your eyes and imagine you’re standing on the edge of a tall building – really put yourself there – you will actually begin to sway; most people can feel the fear of falling while doing this demonstration. You are not actually on the building but your mind and body make a connection to that fear. Another example is if you have ever gone to a 3-D movie you were most likely startled when something projected towards you and you jumped. I have experienced this feeling. It’s called fear. We know it’s not real, but we have the reaction and feeling as if it is. Our fears can hold us back from doing many things that we can and want to do most in life.

Think about spiders or bees. How do you react when you see one of these insects? We know that bees can sting and some spiders are poisonous but should we be paranoid about these insects? I have a fear of spiders. I remember a time I made myself paralyzed with fear over a shadow in the corner of my living room. In my mind it became a huge spider and I could not move to get rid of it. The fear I felt was so strong until I realized it was just a shadow. I could not believe how I made myself become unable to move over something I could quickly overcome.

Some people also allow bad past experiences to hold them in fear. A personal example of this happened when I was in grade school. I had a teacher become angry with me. I was giving an oral presentation in front of the entire class. When it was my turn for the presentation I sat on the desk. I thought nothing of this because most kids had done it before. However, when I became nervous I started swinging my legs back and fourth. I did this during the entire presentation. I was a young child. I did not realize I was doing it. After I completed my presentation my teacher proceeded to reprimand me in front of everyone. I remember her saying something similar to “Do you realize that you looked like a complete idiot? What is wrong with you”? Needless to say, I never did or even wanted to give another oral presentation for the rest of my years in school. This, in turn, caused me to get grades that were less than what I was capable of getting, because I refused to do speeches or oral presentations. As I got older, I realized I wanted to improve my personality and build confidence over my fears. I began listening to motivational/self-help books on tape. I would go to uplifting seminars and found I was feeling better and better about myself. This encouraged me to want to reach out and help others in need.

I decided I wanted to be a Motivational Speaker or a Coach. But I had to overcome my speaking fear. I began listening to more books on tape (now they would be called books on CD). The more I listened, the more confident I felt. After listening to one particular author/speaker many times, I decided to write to him for advice. He had advised in his writings if there was something you wanted to achieve you should be persistent. So I became very persistent. I wrote to his office many times and they finally called me back. They asked me “What do you want?” I told them I just needed some advice on how to get started with speaking. I explained I had a fear of speaking in public, so how should I proceed to speak in front of audiences? Could they possibly help me? They offered me help by informing me to contact a local Toastmasters and see what they were all about.

For information purposes, Toastmasters is a great organization for people who are interested in improving their speaking skills in preparation and presentation in front of audiences. I certainly needed to do this. I located the nearest Toastmasters and attend a meeting. At first, I sat in the background and was too overcome by my “fear”. I did not even want to introduce myself. But by realizing this was just the ‘false evidence appearing real’, I faced my fear and within a short period of time I was President of that Toastmasters. This is not to say I still do not get nervous every once in a while especially in front of large audiences. When I do feel the fear I face the crowd and realize there is nothing to worry about and complete my presentation which gets better with each event. If I kept myself stuck in that f-e-a-r, I would not be able to help people and do what I am doing today. Nor would I be who I am and always wanted to be. Fear “False-Evidence-Appearing-Real”. It’s a realization that fear is nothing more than what you make it. And it is something you can overcome. This is my belief. The first time I heard about F.E.A.R. on my motivational tapes, I felt enlightened and now when I feel a bit nervous or scared I think of how false fear is. This makes me feel better.

I would like you to try a simple exercise – only if you feel ready. Think about a fear that has been holding you back from accomplishing something you truly wanted to do in your life or just had a general fear of. I would like you to do it or face it. Make sure it’s sensible and responsible. Definitely do not do something that would be deemed irresponsible or harmful to yourself or others. I am by no means telling you if you are afraid of sharks to go swim with them. Just take the first steps towards getting over a fear.

Here’s an example: Someone who is near and dear to me always counted on her son to take her to her nieces home that was about an hour away. Her fear was of getting lost, even though she knew how to get there. Finally when she had no one to drive her, and after many discussions with me and her son, she decided to give it a try. This was one of the scariest things to her. This was a big deal. I am so very proud of her! She did it! Her comments afterwards were “I feel like I’m free”, “It’s a feeling of freedom”, “I feel great”, “I feel as if I can do anything now”. These are wonderful feelings. Isn’t it time for you to pick something small to start with? Don’t you want to feel that way? For example, if you are afraid of birds, take your first step by visiting a friend with a friendly pet bird. Slowly going over to the cage and talking to it. Visit a few times until you feel comfortable enough to feed it or pet it. Each time will get better.

Or if you have a fear of public speaking, as I did, and want to start speaking at meetings but are too overwhelmed with fear, I suggest the following… Locate and contact your local Toastmasters or speaking group and attend a few meetings. Yet another example, if you like someone and want to ask him or her out but you are afraid of rejection, my advice is to ask him or her. Why hold yourself back. You will never know the true answer unless you ask. I would rather ask and be rejected than to wonder for the rest of my life what could have been. Just remember you get one step closer to your goals of being a more confident, less fearful person, each time you face your fear.

What are you ready to conquer? Give it thought. What has been holding you back? I believe it may be YOU! Only you can get over or through the fear. Do it!

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