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How to use NLP to overcome your fear of trying

Be it cooking, writing, running, or presenting to a room full of strangers, embarking on an endeavour that’s unfamiliar or comes across as challenging ignites the feeling of fright and induces caution – understandably so. 

Albeit, this pause – most times – morphs into something more debilitating: one that erects tall obstacles between you and the said task.

How then does one navigate and overcome such fear of trying? Listed below are some honest suggestions to consider, based on our NLP trainings: 

  • Don’t overanalyze things
    Easier said than done, I know, but this is characteristically a poignant starting point for triumphing over this terror.

    The possession of an active mind is a mixed bag: it shows that one is alert and mentally healthy, but on the flip side, it is a fertile ground for gross rationalisation. You know this headspace I’m referring to? The one where you conjure up every possible scenario, and then methodically run through this list with sound arguments against such pursuit.

    It’s a fatiguing mind exercise.

    Sometimes, taking things at face value and not reading too much into them can be a beneficial (if not a relieving) method to countering this mental combat. You’re able to spare yourself the exhausting effects of such negative adrenaline, and save some brainpower for problem-solving tactics. 

  • Resist the urge of self-doubt
    “I can’t do it!”

    “Oh, that’s not for me!”

    “I’ve never really been good at that!”

    The speed at which these type of statements comes to us is immediate and also baffling – especially when faced with foreign undertakings. Fighting this impulse can almost be daunting, but it is doable.

    How you ask? Well, by giving yourself the permission to find out if your fear is rooted in reality.

    This is when I close my eyes and imagine myself actually embarking on such terrifying task – take public speaking for instance. I imagine myself behind a podium, confident, and smoothly delivering a speech to a field of heads nodding in acknowledgment. This can be dismissed as wishful thinking, but on the contrary, this “wishful thinking” does have immense benefits. 

    What this kind of visualisation does is give you a positive perspective: an alternative scenario wherein you’re able and capable to do any and everything. It firmly positions you in a place of empowerment rather than dread. 

  • Do the “Nike” – just do it!
    Another thing I’ve found to be of monumental help is swiftly committing to task before having the time to mentally psyche myself out of it. 

    Say it’s a fear of speaking in a meeting: I have a comment or thought I reckon is worth sharing, as opposed to telling myself that’s a dumb thought not worth mentioning, I take a deep breath, exhale, quickly raise my hand and speak.

    This is not to say that every single time I’ve done this it’s gone swimmingly, (heaven knows I’ve stammered, stumbled on my words and even forgotten my train of thought). The long term result of such action is that I’m now less fearful of speaking in intimate settings. And yes, there have been moments when I thought I blew it (in other words, my thoughts weren’t as fluent as I would’ve liked) and surprisingly, the attendants actually found immense value in what was communicated.

    The next time this kind of opportunity materialises, seize it! Do it!

  • Talk it out
    A lot of the hurdles that prevent us from taking action is all in the mind. I’ve found talking things out (to a close friend or a mentor perhaps) immeasurably beneficial.

    In vocally expressing my apprehension – which might sometimes come across as rambling – I’ve found that I’m able to not only better understand the issue, but I’m able to see reasons why I’m more than adept at tackling the issue.

    There is some merit to the adage that says, “Confessions are self serving”. 

  • Failure is great learning tool
    The fear of failing equals the fear of trying.

    Changing the way we sees failure (as the end all be all versus an instrument for wisdom) is a crucial perception switch and tool to overcoming the fear of trying. 

    Granted, it’s never easy or enjoyable when we don’t do something well (or totally bomb), the truth is, we glean a lot more valuable lessons from failing at a particular task than succeeding – the numerous tales of visionaries, are filled with themes of perseverance despite numerous disappointment.

These suggestions are a gradual process – like any other new skill, they’ll take some getting used to – so be kind to yourself and remember that they are achievable. 

So, take a shot and surprise yourself!


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