I grew up in New Hampshire where winters were always white. This was ski country and somehow I was 18 and a senior in high school before I enrolled in ski lessons (only to find every single classmate in my group was a 6-year old first grader). Those little kids were zooming down the slopes while I was stiffly towering over them as I slowly made my way down the baby slopes. I cried when I fell down time after time and realized I was the worst skier in the bunch. But I stuck with the training and learned downhill skiing. And the little kids thought I was cool for skiing with their class.
If you’re enrolled in classes retraining for a new career, you may feel a little out of place, too, especially if the majority of the other students enrolled came directly from high school. Or perhaps you’re going back to school after several years of staying at home to raise a family. In that case, you may find the rest of the students are half your age. Will you be able to keep up? It’s scary enough going to school the first time around, let alone going back for a second career after years outside of the structure of an academic setting.
Feeling fear is a natural human response built into our system as a survival mechanism. Without the adrenaline rush caused when the “fight or flight” response kicks in, we would not have the wherewithal to survive extreme challenges. Back on the slopes, I don’t know what I was more afraid of: skiing down the mountain or how bad I would feel if I couldn’t do it and all those little kids could. Fear of failure motivated me to learn. It pushed me to go for it.
But there is a flip side to fear. Fear can paralyze us and block us from reaching our full potential. Fear may make us choose the easier route…stay where we are without testing ourselves, or drop out when the going gets tough instead of working harder to complete the course. Fear comes in many disguises. It can be masked by embarrassment, guilt, low self-esteem, and even anger.
Fear is the opposite of love. Love opens up our hearts and our minds to new people and new experiences. Fear keeps us “safe” from being hurt but in doing so, prevents us from real growth. Here are some tips for overcoming your fear and gaining confidence to achieve your goals.
*Breathe deeply. Relaxing the body and mind really helps to alleviate fear.
*Meditate on Ganesha. The Hindu deity Ganesha is represented by an elephant and is called the Lord of Success and Remover of All Obstacles. Visualize the elephant god removing the fears causing roadblocks for you. No matter your belief system, meditation is a very grounding practice. Self confidence comes with that inner peace you get from a regular meditation practice.
*You’re not alone. We’re often intimidated because we think others may know something we don’t. If we take a moment to realize that the other guy is afraid, too, that kind of levels the playing field and our fear disappears.
*Take back your power. Imagining the competition without their clothes on is one technique to overcome your inferiority complex. When we see the vulnerability in others, we no longer fear risking our own vulnerability. Give yourself permission to trust in your own ability and talent, allow yourself to feel and work through uncomfortable situations, name your fears and let them go.
*Keep growing. Remaining curious and open to new experiences is key to a successful life ruled by love and not fear. Think of all the things you’ll miss out on if you let your fears get in the way.