I wrote an article earlier this week about Overcoming An Experiential Fear and shared how I overcame my fear of heights by undertaking The Edgewalk at the top of the CN Tower, Toronto, Canada, sharing the video footage of me completing it.
In this article I turn my attention to another fear that we can often struggle with, which is fear based on what others have told us. No doubt, you’ve had others tell you “You can’t do that, it’s too dangerous.” or “You’ll never be able to do that, you aren’t brave enough.” Whatever it is, quite often we take on board the perception of others, we rarely challenge what they have said and because of that it becomes planted in our psyche.
I had an example this week when I was facilitating a middle-management workshop. One of the guys told me that his boss had told him that he would never cut it as a leader because he wasn’t any good at public speaking. What his boss had said had stuck with him. The sad thing was that he had believed it and had shied away from speaking in front of groups of staff and therefore missed opportunities to show others how knowledgeable, experienced and a good leader he was. He said that he was sure that he had been overlooked for promotion with this being one of the factors. He also shared with me, “The really annoying thing is that my boss isn’t any good at public speaking himself.”
My fear had been driven by what others had told me. I had decided that I would undertake a firewalk over hot coals to raise money for a charity that is close to my heart called Rethink Mental Illness. As soon as I mentioned it to others, the doubters and knockers started sewing their seeds of doubt. “You’ll burn your feet.”, “You won’t do it, you’re not brave enough.” “You’ll make a fool of yourself.” The comments were endless from a selective few. However, what they had said started to play on my mind. I had a lot of people who were sponsoring me and I couldn’t let them down so had to do something about it.
For me, it was taking each negative statement and disproving it through research or based on facts I knew about myself. So I investigated about firewalking. How common was it for people to burn their feet? What safety measures would be in place? I did the same for each of the negativities until I could counter logically rather than emotionally, any negative comments said. Did it work? Have a look at the short clip of video footage below to find out.
So, yes it did work for me and the great thing was I was able to raise a good bit of money for Rethink Mental Illness.
So what’s the learning from this? Well for me, it is quite simply, don’t believe everything that others tell you, especially if it is negative and about you, as sometimes they are only masking their own insecurities and frailties by pushing them onto you. Don’t have your wings clipped by others.
I hope this gives you food for thought in terms of what others may have said to you that has stopped you doing things or being your true self. What have you overcome based on something someone has said to you?
All the best, Nick