Fear has been defined as False Evidence Appearing Real – FEAR
Have you ever had such fear to do something that you had to cancel an event or turn someone down? How did you feel afterwards? I'm sure it was not good. Well, I'm here to tell you a little bit about "Fear." I've heard many times that Fear is considered "false evidence appearing real" and I am going to explain how this is a true statement. Think about this for a moment. If you close your eyes and imagine that you're standing on the edge of a tall building, in deep concentration, 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 and was started when something projects toward you and you jump. I, myself, have experienced this feeling – fear. We know it's not real, but we have the reaction and feeling of fear. This is considered False Evidence Appearing Real. Our fears can hold us back from doing many things that we can and want to do most in life. Ponder this, think about spiders or bees. How do you react when you see one of them? We know that bees can sting and that some spiders are poisonous but should we be paranoid about these insects? I have a fear of spiders. I remember a time that I made myself paralleled 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 that I could overcome and handle myself.
Do not allow any bad past experiences to hold you in fear either. 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 that I was even 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 not you ever give a presentation while sitting on a desk in my class and swing your legs like a two year old!" "Did not 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 that I wanted to improve my personality and build confidence over menial fears. I began listening to motivational / self-help books on tape. I would go to seminars and found that I was feeling better about myself. This made me want to reach out and help others in need, like I was. I decided that I wanted to be a Motivational Speaker or a Coach. But I had to overcome my speech 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 that if there was something you wanted to achieve to be persistent. So I became very persistent. I wrote to his office many times before 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 that I had a fear of speaking in public, so how would 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, a Toastmasters' is a great organization for people who are interested in improving their speaking skills, in preparation for speeches 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 with "fear" that I did not even want to introduce myself. But by realizing that 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 that I do not still get nervous every time in a while especially in front of large audiences. When I do feel the fear I face the crowd and be persistent realizing that there is nothing to worry about and complete my presentation which gets better with each event. If I kept myself stuck in that fear, 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". Its a realization that fear is nothing more than what you make it. And it is something you can easily overcome. This is my belief. The first time that I heard about FEAR, on my motivational tapes, I felt enlightened and now when I feel a bit nervous or scared I think of how false this fear is. This makes me feel better.
I would like for you to try a simple exercise this week, of course, if you feel ready. Think about a fear that has been holding you back from doing something you really wanted to do in your life or just had a general fear of. And I want you to do it or face it. Make sure it's sensible and responsible. I am by no means telling you that if you are afraid of sharks to go swim with them. Definitely do not do something that would be deemed irresponsible or harmful to yourself or others. Just take the first steps towards getting over a fear. Pick something small to start. 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 talk 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 are like me 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 without you ask. I would rather ask and be rejected than to wonder, for the rest of my life, what could have been. Just remember that you get one step closer to your goals of being a more confident less fearful person every time you face your fear.
I'd love to hear how you did with this exercise. Feel free to email me or leave a comment.