I sat in my car, steeling myself for what was to come.
It was October 2015 and I was sitting in the carpark of the health club that I had applied to work at. I had been called in for an interview. I was waiting in my car, waiting for the time when I could walk in to be early but not too early.
I was nervous as hell. Looking back now, I could even say that I was scared.
When we look at it very simply, there are two types of fear: rational and irrational.
There’s the fear we feel when we are faced with life-threatening situations. When we are face-to-face with a tiger, we (rightly so) feel scared. There is a very obvious physiological response to this. Adrenalin pumps through our veins and our cortisol levels increase. Our blood floods to our working muscles, readying them to launch. Our sympathetic nervous system ramps up to prepare our body to fight or flee.
That is rational fear.
Irrational fear is when we feel afraid of something that is no real danger to our health or wellbeing. Fear of failure for example. Interestingly, our body has an identical physiological response. When I was sitting in my car that day, mentally preparing myself for the interview, my body felt like a coiled spring. I was afraid of failing and judgement. This fear made me feel like I was about to face a tiger.
This is our perception of fear. If we can shift this perception to look logically and calmly at our irrational fears, we can bring awareness to how we respond.
We can then attempt to control our physiological response. We can bring our attention to our breath. We can run the scenario through our head and visualise success. We can use strategies that lean on our mental resources (think resilience, grit, optimism, etc).
Feeling fear isn’t wrong. But letting it control us and determine what actions we take, is a fatal mistake. Maybe fear is telling us that we are in pursuit of something meaningful…
Use strategies to reframe your fear. Put an action plan in place. Take a breath and be formidable.
P.S. In case you were wondering, I got the job.