FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real – Look for Proof!
Most of us think our thoughts are accurate. We trust our own thinking so much that we do not think to question our own thoughts.
That’s why I love this statement – FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. Often when we are afraid, it is not based on reality. It is based on assumptions and on inaccurate information.
When my clients express a fear, I ask them for proof. They pause, stammer a minute and then realize that they don’t have any. We are so used to just believing everything that comes to our minds that we lose the ability to examine what is at the root of our fears. I don’t want them to look silly (being unable to prove that their fear is based on reality), but at the same time, I want to teach them to question their assumptions.
For instance, a lady came to me once and said she wanted to become a confident communicator. She was afraid to start conversations at parties because she didn’t feel confident. We worked on some communication skills to help build her confidence. She improved and was ready to try out her new skills. However, she still felt afraid of “looking dumb”.
So, I asked her to prove it to me. “Are you dumb?” I asked. She gave me a shocked expression and said, “No, of course not!” Then I asked her if she had ever had trouble in school due to learning difficulties or speech impediments that made her “feel dumb” among other children. She said no.
“So how would you “look dumb” in conversation?” I asked her. I wanted her to figure out exactly what her fear was. What she realized was that “looking dumb” was a judgment. She was afraid that either someone else would judge what she had to say as “dumb” or she would think what she said was “dumb”. So we worked on these specific things. First, you cannot control other people’s judgment of you. She had to let that go. For her, the primary issue was judging herself as “dumb”. We did some work on that – to learn self-acceptance and self-compassion. And her fear melted away.
The next time she went to a social gathering, she emailed me to tell me how smoothly it went. She successfully started several conversation with strangers and acquaintances and never once did she “look dumb” in her estimation. Success!
Take some time to examine your fears. Can you find proof that what you imagine will happen actually has a good chance of happening? And if it does, then what? When we break down our fears, often we discover that they are based on a fuzzy sense of logic. By breaking them down, we can overcome them.
Try it and let me know how it works for you! ♥