Thursday, April 17, 2008

Face Your Fears

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedIn *Please note the title of this chapter has been changed in order to comply with copyright and trademark law - the previous title for this chapter is a registered trademark of Dr. Susan Jeffers, author of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, originally published in 1987.

Okay Okay, I know what you're thinking... how many more times is Julie going to change the title of her book? Let me just say, the process of finding a good title is a bit of a journey - that' s why we authors call them "working titles" until we get it right. So the title of my new book has been refined yet again, and I have added an additional day - making it, Stress Less in 27 Days. Here is yet another chapter from the new book, still slated for end of April release. Please visit my website, to pre-order your copy.

Before I present this new chapter, first I have to say, I have been referring to Jack Canfield quite a bit lately, and I chose this chapter to share for a good reason. I had the wonderful honour and privilege of meeting Jack on Tuesday the 15th of April, at the Phenomenal View event: ( To say the day was amazing would be an understatement! Jack is every bit the man of grace, humility, class, and humour that you see in his videos and experience in his books. And though I have listened to him and read him, and even taught his work for years, I made some new distinctions about asking for what you want, and about eliminating fear that I believe will be truly life altering. Jack graciously accepted my gift to him of a signed copy of my book, Anger Solutions, and signed all three copies of his books for me in return. Great day. Thanks to Gerry and Jean Visca of Red Chair Branding, ( for making it possible.

So... here is another chapter of my new book, Stress Less in 27 Days, for you to enjoy: Face Your Fears.
In their excellent book, The Aladdin Factor, Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield define fear this way: “False Expectations Appearing Real” – in other words, it is the culmination of those things you anticipate could happen, but never do - that constitute fear. Just as faith is described as a belief or a certainty that something positive or good will happen, fear is the belief that the worst will happen.

Would you rather live your life in anticipation, or in trepidation? Fear has got to be one of the worst feelings in the world to experience. While fear has its place, it does not always serve us well. I recall my first trip to Algonquin Park in Ontario with my husband and daughter. She was only about two or three years old, and I did not have much experience with wild animals. We stopped at the boardwalk and decided to traverse the nature trail. It was October (Thanksgiving weekend), the leaves had turned, and the air was quite cold. I remember just getting off the boardwalk, and onto the nature trail, when suddenly the smell of something warm, fresh, and gamy wafted into the air. I stopped short in my tracks and the hair on the back of my neck began to stand on end.

I said to my husband, “Do you smell that? It smells like bear.” He agreed – maybe bear, maybe moose, but definitely fresh. I said, “Let’s get out of here.” He said – no, let’s keep going! Keep going! There was no way I was going to keep going. I had visions of my baby getting snatched up by some angry mother bear, being eaten for a snack, while Steve and I got mauled and held over for the main course. No amount of reassurance from Steve could convince me that we would be safe in those woods on that day. Needless to say, my fear prevailed, and we high tailed it back to the safety of our vehicle.

Now, I would like to think that my fear served us well that day. But fear doesn’t always do us great justice. In fact, more often than not, fear just gets in the way of us reaching and maximizing our full potential. Think of those who lose out on promotions because of their fear of public speaking. What about others who are afraid of rejection, and end up losing out on the love of their life? Others still are afraid of commitment, so never know the joy and intimacy of a committed relationship, or the pride of seeing a project through to completion. Fear of failure prevents people from starting. Fear of success keeps them from finishing. Fear of embarrassment makes people unwilling to risk. Fear of exposure or rejection makes them mask their true identities.

Fear creates a similar biochemistry in the brain and the body as does stress. Heart rate increases, blood pressure rises. The body produces cortisol, cholesterol, and glucose in the blood. Remember, this is all part of the flight or fight syndrome, and there is nothing that we can do to prevent that – unless we learn how to manage our fears.

I love speaking to an audience – doesn’t really matter how big or how small, I just love being able to share my passion with people. But when it comes to “networking” – making small talk or trying to explain my business to strangers on a one-to-one basis; that for me used to spell FEAR. I can’t tell you exactly what I was afraid of, but I have always had a limiting belief about my ability to interact in those types of social settings.

Truth be told, I believe it stems from my teenage years when I was very insecure and uncomfortable in my own skin. My father was the president of the Jamaican Community Association in Ottawa, and we had to attend a lot of social events throughout the year. I always hated them, because I felt like the ugly duck in my family – never well put together, and I could never figure out how to make small talk. My other big challenge was figuring out how to look sophisticated while holding the little napkin with finger foods in one hand, a glass in the other, while having a conversation with a perfect stranger. When exactly were you supposed to eat those things anyway? What about if stuff got stuck in my teeth? Would anyone let me know?

Needless to say, the fear of being in those types of social situations has haunted me throughout the years. About three years ago, I decided it was time to get over it. I realize that networking is an essential ingredient in marketing one’s business, and I decided it was time to barrel through my fears and just do it. Mind you, I didn’t just get dressed one night and go out networking… I had to do some internal work on my attitudes and my beliefs first.

It’s time for confession. Before my first networking event, I put on a motivational audiotape that encouraged me to overcome my limiting beliefs. Then, I watched a video that showed me how to take an experience that I had always rated as a negative 10, and create an alternative reality that would make that experience feel like a plus 10. I listed all the things that I would have to do to make my experience positive, and then added all the positive benefits and potential outcomes that could result from me getting out there. Armed with all that positive reinforcement, I got dressed, grabbed my business cards, and went out to network.

Did I meet anyone new that night? Nope. I only spoke to people I knew already. Did I make any great business deals on my first night out? No again. Did I overcome my fear of talking to strangers while I balanced finger foods in one hand and a glass in the other?


In fact, now when I go to networking events, I seek out the people who are obviously feeling out of place like I used to. I approach them first, and strike up a conversation. I introduce them to other people that I know. Before you know it, we are all laughing and having a great time, and “networking” doesn’t seem so bad after all. And, I have made some great business alliances along the way.

What are you afraid of? Does that fear serve you, or does it control you? If you do not learn to master fear, then fear will become your master. Wouldn’t you rather be in control? Barreling through your fear will be uncomfortable. But once you make it to the other side, the rewards are indescribable. You will be freer, less stressed, and more willing to try new things. By learning to conquer your fears, you will accept and adapt to change more easily. Most importantly, by facing your fears, you will bring yourself closer to your goals, and to living the life you truly deserve.