The biggest enemy we face when building a business is often ourselves. We’re professionals at imagining worse case scenarios and true experts in consistently fueling fear and anxiety about our work. Even when things are going well in our careers, there’s a tendency to assume the good times won’t last.
And this can be truly damaging, especially as a new entrepreneur or freelancer. Fear can influence the decisions you make, the choices you select, and the chances you back away from. When left unrestrained, acute anxiety can destroy a business on the cusp of growing and thriving. It’s a tragedy.
It’s a tragedy because fear, when mortal danger is absent, is ultimately an illusion of the mind. For business owners, fear and anxiety are caused by negative thinking about the future, which is a product of our imaginations. It has to be, because the future doesn’t exist yet.
Overcoming the illusion of fear
“There is no illusion greater than fear.” – Lau Tzu.
So in order to overcome fear – or the power fear holds – we need to overcome the illusion. Doing so will benefit your professional life, your creativity, your health, your relationships, and your business, immensely.
But what are some of the ways you can do this?
- Feel the fear
Feel the fear and study it. This is easier said than done of course but the premise is that you form some kind of acceptance of the fear.
When the stressful emotion arises, you merely observe the physical sensations the fear produces and then focus back on your tasks at hand when the worst passes. The sensations might include a fast-beating heart, shortness of breath, muscle pain, and sweaty hands, as well as more subtle feelings.
You witness the fear while at the same time reminding yourself that there’s no real physical danger present. Whether you’re sitting in your home office, meeting with a client in a coffee shop, or typing away in a coworking space, the fear is simply based on your thoughts and habitual reactions.
- Detach yourself from the mental noise
A big benefit of closely overserving your fear, like a detached witness, is the ability to separate yourself from your mind’s chatter. We’re usually so consumed with our thoughts and mental narratives that we fail to realize just how busy and loud our minds can be.
A sudden panic attack is often the result of a thought thread we’re barely conscious of. It’s only when we sit back and focus exclusively on the feelings and sensations of the fear, that we begin to notice the racing mind accompanying the emotions.
By focusing on the physical sensations the fear produces, you give less credence to your negative self-talk. In so doing, you relatively quickly begin to notice a decrease in the negative energies.
- Sail into the fear when it arises during work
“You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” – Dale Carnegie
As a freelancer or entrepreneur, with multiple tasks to manage and people to communicate with, finding ways to overcome fear quickly is essential. When you begin to make an accepting space for fear, and to actively observe it with interest, its power begins to feel less terrifying.
And then you begin to realize you can actually confront fear directly when needed. Or to use a navy metaphor, you can sail directly into the fear when it arises, instead of trying to escape it, and being overturned by it sideways.
For example, a freelancer who hates using the phone might choose to face the thing he or she fears the most. They feel the fear coursing through their body. They choose to embrace it and even to challenge it to do its worse, and then they make the call.
“What’s the worst that can happen?” is always a good question to ask. The answer is usually, nothing major.
- Study the reaction patterns
By consistently observing and being in tune with both your emotional reactions and mental self-talk, you begin to notice patterns. There are certain thoughts, tasks, actions, or people who cause a fearful response.
You may not have noticed before and felt confused by your anxiety, but with careful self-examination you’ll spot catalysts. You might also find things from your past reveal themselves to be the reason why certain negative thoughts or habits are hard to ignore.
Such revelations can help you deepen your realization that your work fears are inherently an illusion and doing little for your career.
- Make the appropriate changes
Observing your fears and making some form of peace with them can go a long way to helping you in your business. However, there’s always more you can do and this might include making some small – or even drastic – changes.
Maybe you’re not cut out to be an entrepreneur. Perhaps offering a certain freelance service is causing you anxiety you really don’t need. There might even be a triggering partner, colleague, or client who you just need to break contact with.
Or you might simply need to make better use of software and technology to streamline your day.
And get more exercise.
When you truly observe and go deeper into the mechanics behind your fear, and look at things with clear honesty, you’ll realize where the problems lie. You always have the ability to pivot in your business, especially as a freelancer or entrepreneur, where the choices are largely yours.
Don’t make things harder than they need to be. If something is causing you great stress, then don’t do it. Do something else. Or at least put plans into action for changing in the near future.
Your wellbeing will benefit.
The end of the fear illusion
“The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not “the thinker.”, says Eckhart Tolle, the world famous spiritual teacher. By this he means, you don’t need to own the thoughts and fears expressed in your mind and body.
By being a witness to your fears, detaching yourself from your fearful mental narratives, and carrying on with work regardless, you can transform your fortunes.
Fear will come and go, especially if it’s related to money anxiety, but it’s how you react to it that will determine whether you overcome the fear illusion or are consumed by it.
Success awaits those who sail into, and through, the fear.