“Don’t regret the past or fear the future. Both bring misery through self-doubt.”
– Deepak Chopra
Even the most outwardly confident of people have a little voice in their heads that tells them they ‘can’t’ – for some people åthat voice is so loud that they simply don’t try new things, whether it’s a new class at the gym, a new shade of lippy or a new arm to their business. So where does that little voice come from and what can we do to silence it?
Well, first of all we need to realise that actually we don’t want to silence that voice; we simply want to negotiate with it! You see there’s a part of our brain called the limbic system. We have our cognitive functions at the front of our brains: the reasoning, the logic, the explanation of behaviour etc, but we also have our limbic system, which is responsible for keeping us safe and is very much tied in with our emotional responses.
So for example, in prehistoric times we’d have to be constantly on the lookout for predators, so we’d be in a heightened state of anxiety: our limbic system is what takes control of that vigilance – that alertness. That’s why we have an inbuilt adrenaline response: the ‘flight/fight/freeze’ response. We needed that to survive. We needed to be on guard.
Unfortunately, our brains now see all stress as potential threats. For example, we’re caught in traffic and late for a meeting. We’re not going to die of, but we still get the same stress response: our heart beats faster, we sweat, and our mouths go dry. Essentially our body shuts down all extraneous systems and prepares us to run away. When we can’t run away (from the traffic jam, or mortgage or doctor’s appointment or whatever else), these symptoms simply stay with us to a greater or lesser extent. Our brains don’t realize that our society has evolved.
Unfortunately the limbic system doesn’t care if you’re depressed, it doesn’t care if you’re anxious. If you’re either of those things, you’re going to stay physically safe.
So our job is to recognise this. To say to the limbic system “thank you so much. I know you’re really trying to keep good care of me. But you know what? I’ve looked at the risk of this – I’ve assessed it. And I’m going to be alright. I can handle this”
The limbic system is also responsible for something called ‘imposter syndrome’. Imposter syndrome can occur if you get promoted, if you get an award, if you change schools, go to college and you feel like you’ve got there through pure luck (even though that’s almost certainly not true). You feel a sense of constant guilt, you feel like a fraud and you feel like you’re going to get found out. You feel like you’re deceiving people.
Research suggests that around 70 percent of people have felt imposter syndrome, but surely 70 percent of us can’t be called be frauds? of course not: it’s just another one of those lies that our anxious brain tells us. Quite often it is just a natural reaction to change. But once we appreciate that, we can take steps to move away from it or at least understand it.
You see, what confident people do really well, is they allow themselves to feel comfortable. They know that if they fail in something, they are not actually a failure: It’s just another learning opportunity. Confident people have the ability to be vulnerable because they know it doesn’t define them. Fear is experienced when you are visualizing something going badly. When that moment that you’ve dreaded happens (if it ever does, and let’s be honest, things are rarely as bad as you think they’re going to be) more often than not, you react, you get on with it.
So say, for example, you’re doing a presentation: You walk into the room and you trip over and fall flat on your face. Disaster? Well, not really. Think about it: what would you do? You’re not just going to lie there. You’re not going to start your presentation from the floor! You react in the moment. You get up, you apologise, you ask for help, for a glass of water, you find a seat. You shake it off.
And be honest, if you saw your speaker fall and get straight back up you’d feel awful for them – but you’d be pretty impressed! Even if they turned around and said “I’m sorry, I’m hurt, I’m going to have to reschedule. You still wouldn’t judge them. You wouldn’t bad mouth them or think they couldn’t do their job. You’d admire them.
So the important thing is knowing that whatever happens to you, you can handle it. If you do keep picturing a worst case scenario, the best thing you can do is accept that worry and plan how to deal with it if it happens. “If X happens, I will do this” Then you can say to yourself: I’ve got a plan for the worst and and now I’m going to visualize the best. Now I’ve dealt with all the bad stuff. I’m going to visualize this good thing happening. I’m going to program my subconscious brain for positive stuff, for the stuff I want.
How does this apply to me?
If you are planning to create a digital course, then the first thing to do is make sure that it’s something you are passionate about. Remember your why .Why are you doing it in the first place? Recognising that this is going to be tough is important. It’s your livelihood. Your future. So remember why you are doing it in the first place.
The next thing is understanding that fear is a natural part of any change. You need fear for growth. You have to push past your comfort zone. So fear is natural. It’s absolutely natural, and again; what is the worst that can happen?
Say, for example, you get criticized. Do you think the criticism is valid? If the criticism is valid then that’s great. Change what needs changing, make the amendments that you need and then send it off again. What else might you need to change? Are you going for the right market? What do your sales look like? how’s your market? Is it working for you?
Finally, you need to be aware that you’re doing an amazing thing. You’re creating something unique, and it’s your passion. Yes. It might be tough, but what an amazing experience. If you think “What can I learn from this? Then you immediately open yourself up to new opportunities.
It’s all about being kind to yourself and just realizing that you’re allowed to be scared. We need our limbic system – if we weren’t scared we’d step off the nearest cliff just to see what would happen! But if you accept that fear, assess your risks and take your time, you can quieten that little voice and let your inner confidence shine!