Fear is essentially made up because it is a projection going into the future, where you have created a narrative of something going wrong. We all do it, and we get very good at creating the negative (future) rather than the positive one.
Simply thinking positive isn’t helpful isn’t enough, we should visualise what we need to do to perform, rather than focus on the result. The skill is in your application to the task because that’s the bit you’re in control of. Say you have a big presentation to do, or a big event or job interview – if you’re feeling fear you are already mentally rehearsing in a negative way. (in mental rehearsal) you prime your brain to play it how you would like it to be. You might want to be confident, speak clearly. It’s not just positive thinking.
As for nerves, it is a mistake to think it is essential or even desirable to eliminate them from your life. They can be wonderful. They keep you alive and make you realise something important is about to happen. If you discuss what the nerves mean to you and how you deal with them, then they don’t become a threat to you. They become this wonderful cortisol that runs trough your veins and you deal with the problem, and then you rest afterwards.
Five top tips for success
- Don’t fear failure. Part of what it takes to be courageous is overcoming the constant battle between the desire of what we want and the fear of failure. Most of us don’t expose ourselves because we are fearful.
- Reframe emotions: you’re not “nervous”, your “excited”; a penalty shootout/ job interview/important speech it’s not something to dread, it’s an “opportunity”.
- Positive thinking is unhelpful if you’re simply fantasising about achieving an Oscar/the World Cup/a fuller social life. Instead, focus – positively – on the steps that could get you your goal.
- Treat your employees/children/customers as individuals rather than homogenous group. Different approaches will work for different people.
- Kindness, listening and empathy will take you further than barking orders. Use praise to motivate people.