Turn Fear Into Fuel in 2023

Happy New Year and welcome back!!

Uncertainty. It’s a terrifying word. Like it or not, uncertainty is the new normal. We live in a time where the world is in a state of constant, long-term flux.

Uncertainty leads to unease, anxiety, fear and doubt on a level that snuffs out most genuinely meaningful and potentially revolutionary endeavours before they even see the light of day. Not because they wouldn’t have succeeded, but because you never equipped yourself to handle and even harness the emotional energy of the journey.

But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if there was a way to turn the fear, anxiety and self-doubt that ride along with acting in the face of uncertainty – the head-to-toe butterflies – into fuel for brilliance?

Turns out, there is. Here are 5 starter-strategies to help get you going:

1. Reframe

If you create a story that empowers action and innovation, that’s great news. Unfortunately, our brains have a strong bias toward negativity, leading most of us to create stories around circumstances that require action in the face of uncertainty that are more likely to paralyse and stunt creativity than fuel action.

Reframing is a process that asks you to suspend negative storylines, explore if the story you’re telling is the only one and, if not construct or frame a new storyline that empowers you.

For example, if your storyline is around the risk of failure, instead of just asking “what if I fail?” and creating a doomsday scenario, you ask yourself ”What would I attempt to do today if I knew I could not fail?”  Then build new stories around those questions.

 2. Practice Mindfulness

Reframing is an immensely powerful tool in the quest to lean into the unknown. But it also requires a certain detachment, the ability to pull back and see what’s really going on and re-centre.  A daily mindfulness practice goes a long way toward equipping you to do just that.

Mindfulness cultivates a sense of persistent grounding that makes living and acting in a world where there is no new normal far more enjoyable. And it trains you in the practice of dropping thoughts among those destructive, limiting beliefs.

3. Exercise Your Brain

We’ve all seen the research on exercise and health, weight loss and disease prevention. But did you know that certain approaches to exercise also have a profound effect on your brain?

Daily cardiovascular exercise, for example, especially with high-intensity bursts mixed in, can improve mood, executive function, decision-making, and decrease fear. It is also strongly correlated with decreases in anxiety and increases in mood, which are directly connected to improved creativity and problem-solving.

4. Single-task

Multitasking is out. Our brains don’t multitask; they just rapidly switch between tasks, sometimes fast enough for us to believe we’re doing many things at once. The problem is, every time we switch, there is a “ramping cost” in your brain, it takes anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes for your brain to fully re-engage. This makes you feel insanely busy but simultaneously inhibits productivity and creativity and increases feelings of anxiety and stress.

Multitasking also requires you to hold a lot of information in your working memory, which is controlled by a part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex (PFC). But the PFC is also responsible for will power, and for keeping fear and anxiety in check. Multitasking increases the “cognitive load” on the PFC, overwhelming it and effectively killing its ability to keep fear, anxiety and the taunt of distraction at bay.

Simple solution – just say no. Do one thing at a time in intense, short bursts.

 5. Learning Opportunities

Explore the possibility of bringing a learning approach to your creative process. Create the simplest version of your idea possible, then bring a select group of those who potentially might enjoy it into the process earlier in the name of soliciting and integrating input into the next iteration. This not only minimizes waste, it changes the psychology of creation by adding more certainty earlier in the game and encouraging consistent, incremental action.

Source: Adapted from Jonathan Fields, “zen habits: 5 Ways to Turn Fear into Fuel”, http://zenhabits.net

I hope these five simple suggestions will support you in creating a 2023 with less fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Want to chat further….. contact me: babette@babettebensoussan.com.au

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