The second tool that you’ll need in your arsenal to tackle fear is perspective. We looked earlier at how determination provides a powerful engine for keeping you going past fear. Today, we’re giving the same treatment to your perspective. While determination is the fuel that keeps you going, perspective determines how you see every aspect of your situation.
“Do I really have what it takes to go trough this? Do I want to take this thing head on? Is this really going to be as bad as I’m afraid it will be?” all of those questions are answered by your perspective. In the beginning, your perspective really is all that you have. If it’s your first time giving birth, you don’t have any past pregnancies to draw data or conclusions from. As you start dealing with what you fear, you can change your perspective according to what you experience, but when you start, you’ve really got what you tell yourself about yourself and the situation to go on.
That’s why it’s vitally important to watch what you say about yourself before you start to face a fear. “Omigod- every time I go to the dentist it’s always a root canal!” really isn’t helping your fear about your upcoming visit. Even if it is true, you still don’t know if you’ll be facing the drill this time. You are, however, scaring yourself to death and getting yourself worked up over probably nothing.
The more times you face something similar, like a ride at an amusement park, the more likely you are to have a perspective that actually prepares you for something that makes you nervous. “This one is just like the Flying Dutchman back at Six Flags” is a good way to put a ride into perspective and prepare yourself for the G forces as you wait in line. Craning your neck around and watching the cars go by and comparing it to something somewhat similar that you’ve ridden before is also helpful. Trying to do the calculations of the death rate for amusement park rides is, however, not helpful.
As you confront your fear, your perspective will change. Like a hero in a story, you’ll realize that you need backup, or that the thing that you fear is not as bad as you initially feared. Perspective will help you concentrate on something larger than the fear, which will keep it from mushrooming in your mind and taking up more of your mental energy than it deserves. If you deal with anxiety, you know that anxiety likes nothing more than to blow a simple issue out into galactic proportions. If it’s of “galactic proportions,” then anxiety will convince you that it was your bestest friend by “warning” you of the “danger.” You’ll be so thankful of your “buddy” that you’ll invite him to stay around and ferret out some “new” fears for you to run from.
Keeping perspective keeps not only the thing that you fear but your anxiety about the object in check. Perspective interrupts the whispers and lies that anxiety puts into your ear, and gives you more fact-based information. Anxiety tells you that you’ll stand in the corner at the mixer and not make any business contacts. Anxiety tells you that it’s a waste of time to do. Anxiety tells you that everyone there will either point and laugh at you or feel so sorry for you that they’ll laugh at you behind their hands.
Perspective tells you that things aren’t as bad as anxiety lies and assures you they will be. Perspective allows you to get your courage up and to endure. It allows you to see things through until you face your fear.