False Evidence Appearing Real

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously quoted this.

Do you know what is the number one reason that stops people from making a decision and taking action? It is Fear!

And, do you know what is the number one fear that most people have when it comes to taking action? It is Fear of… …Failure! We think that if we fail, we will be rejected, we will be judged, we will be laughed at, we will be hurt, we will not be loved. And, because of this fear we don’t take action.

Because of the Fear of Failure, we DON’T take Action

Dr. Smiley Blanton, a noted American psychiatrist once said, “Fear is the most subtle and destructive of all human diseases.”

Just take a moment to reflect on this statement. Pause, and look back at your lives and see all the moments where this fear has played a culprit and spoilt the show for you. Ladies and Gentlemen, fear kills hope! Fear kills dreams!!

Now, before we turn around and decide to kill this fear altogether, let’s take a moment to understand this emotion. Biologically, fear is a natural part of our neural system and it manifests itself in one of the 3 ways – fight, flight or freeze. It is an essential part of our survival. Fear is what keeps us alive when the situation or the environment poses a physical threat. What do I mean by that? Let me take a seemingly unreal, yet speculative example. Let’s say you are put in a cage with an untamed lion. Now, that’s an example of an unrealistic yet real threat to your life (if such a situation arises.) What will you do in this case? There are 3 possibilities –

  1. You might suddenly demonstrate your hidden power and strength, and fight off the lion, or, (fight)
  2. You may scurry around the cage, trying to find a way out, a way to escape, or, (flight)
  3. You might just stand there frozen in fear, not able to move a limb, hoping and praying that someone (or God) comes and saves you. (freeze)

That’s an example of a real fear. But, how often do we come across such real fears that threaten our lives?

The fears that we deal with on a daily basis are all irrational and “false,” and are created only because of our negative self-talk and limiting beliefs – the tiny little voice that goes on in our head – “What if I fail?” “I can’t do it.” “I am not smart enough.” “I am not good enough.” “I don’t have the confidence.” “Why me?”

Fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real!”

Fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real!”

Research in neuroscience has shown that motivation and excitement resides in the exact same region of our brain from where fear is generated. “How does that help, Sanket?” you may ask. The idea is to recognize your fear the next time it shows up and then try to re-frame it into an excitement of something. Our brains can only focus on one thing at a time. Channel your fear of whatever it is into an excitement of what’s in store.

Remember the time when your dad or mom bought you your first bicycle. Were you not excited to ride it (no matter what time of the day it was), or were you sitting on your backside and thinking – What if I fall down? What if my friends laugh at me? What if my bike breaks down? If you could unconsciously re-frame your fears back then as a kid, what’s stopping you now?

Re-framing my fears is what helped me perform at TEDx last year. When the opportunity for speaking at TEDx came through, I wasn’t ready for it at all. All sorts of fears and limiting beliefs started colliding with each other inside my head! The tiny little voice in my head was suddenly amplified and I began to feel this knot in my stomach, knowing that I was not good enough or capable enough for this talk. “What am I going to talk about?” “What if I fail?” “What if I forget my speech?” “What if they laugh at me?” “Sh*t, This is TEDx!” I knew I had this fear of public speaking, and I knew I wasn’t ready for TEDx!

Did I give up and succumb to my fears? No!! Instead, I re-framed my fears and shifted my self-talk from “Why me?” and “What if..?” to “I am!” The two words, “I am” are the most powerful words you can use in your vocabulary to re-frame your fears and give clarity to your brain. Also, known as affirmations, these are simple, short and positive statements that you keep repeating to yourself, when you in the shower, or when you are walking, or when you are alone. The ones I used during TEDx were “I am confident enough, I am unstoppable, I am owning the stage, I am inspiring my audience, I am enough! I am more than enough!”

The two words, “I AM” are the most powerful words you can use in your vocabulary to re-frame your fears and give clarity to your brain.

Choose and use your affirmations all the time, ladies and gentleman. Make this a habit! Re-frame your fears from false evidence appearing real to face everything and rise!


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