Pssst… I have a secret, a secret I want to share with you. You see, I can sense your fear, your worry, your self doubt and leaking self esteem tank. I see all of this clear as day. It’s written in every movement you make, in every footfall, in the arc of your arm as you reach for a hug, in the hesitant smile on your face. Your body betrays your inner world.
I’m not a magician, a psychic, an all powerful visionary. I just see, and recognize, what others don’t.
Why is fear, worry and doubt written on your body? Your body is an expression of your mind. Your movements are controlled by your nervous system – directed by your brain. If you are unsure, doubtful or fearful, your movements will be somewhat stunted and restricted.
Think of a ballerina, gracefully flowing through the air. Imagine how many times she must have practiced that jump, how many times she fell, how long it took her to perfect the arc of her legs, the reach of her arms. The confidence she developed shines clearly through in her movement.
Contrast that with someone who has never practiced ballet, never jumped into the air, never tried to fly. The movement will not be nearly so graceful. The legs will lack extension, the arms will poise in readiness to hit the ground hard. Fear makes the muscles stiff.
This carries over into life. When you carry fearful thoughts into your life, others can see it in the set of your shoulders, the tension in your abdomen, the tightness around your jaw. We may not consciously think about your fear, but on a primal level, we can see it. It’s the elephant in the room, so to speak, and it can sabotage your goals.
What a 1,000 lb Animal on a String Taught Me About Conquering Fear
As a kid, I showed horses. Now, you might not be aware of this, but horses are kinda huge. Like 1,000+lbs huge. And I was just a little kid, essentially leading a 1,000 lb animal on a tiny string.
There were so many things that could freak a horse out, from applause to pigeons suddenly bursting out of a corner of the arena and unfamiliar smells (cows, anyone?). Horses are prey animals, so they run when startled. This doesn’t bode well for the tiny human holding it by a string.
And on top of it all, horse shows required that I get my horse to execute precise maneuvers, so precise, in fact, that every hoof print was scrutinized.
If I had the tiniest bit of fear, my horse knew it. This is how horses stay alive in the wild. If the lead mare sniffs a hungry lion, her body language immediately alerts the rest of the herd and everyone starts running, like now. Well, in the team of two that is you and your horse, you are the lead mare. You’re the gal in charge, the one who says whether we run or stay.
How to Conquer Fear and Give a Winning Performance
I learned fast that if I kept my cool, everything pretty much went all right. I learned how to slow my heart rate, calm my shaking hands and project an “I know what I’m doing” vibe.
Want to know my secret? It all comes down to staying in the present moment. All anxiety, worry and doubt comes from living too far in the past or too far in the future, even if it’s only a minute. The second you start worrying about what might happen, you’ve lost focus on what actually is happening, and that’s when your horse takes charge instead of you.
Essentially, your life is a 1,000 lb animal on a string. Are you letting it run you around, startling at the pigeons in the corner and jumping at every loud bang, or are you in charge? To get where you want to go, you have to decide which direction that is and then go there, proceeding as if you had no doubt. Even if it’s the wrong direction entirely, you can make a u-turn or course correct along the way, but if you never start or you continue to be wishy-washy, you’ll only walk in circles, letting fear fence you in.
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