Fear and Assumptions (part 1 of 3)

We celebrated Martin Luther King Day this week and the quote I posted over in our Facebook page was, “Courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

The POWER of your mind is the most underrated and important part of any negotiation or conversation where you have to do or say something outside of your comfort zone. I’m not talking about using your mind to move things around the room or hypnotize people or read their thoughts (although those things would be pretty awesome at times! Not all the time. Some things I really don’t want to know…I’d probably be thinking, “I wish I could unsee that!” pretty often.).

It’s when you need to talk to your boss about a co-worker who keeps missing deadlines. Or when you haven’t gotten a raise in four years and it’s eating away at you. And when you need to tell a friend that you can’t volunteer for the fundraiser this year.

What do I say in this situation? How can I face this?

Many days we choose to tune out, to watch another episode of Parenthood on Netflix instead of facing our fears about what might happen when we have that conversation. (Parenthood is my current tune out the world show, what’s yours?)

You may feel bad about avoiding the issue, but you’re still hoping it will go away on it’s own. But it’s there, in the back of your mind, slowly eating away at you. Sometimes it may explode out in a torrent of frustration. That’s when you say things you regret and you move from avoiding the issue into wishing you could take your outburst back. Spinning over “I wish I hadn’t said that!”

So much energy wasted!

What if you could do a few things differently so you can face it, take care of it and then move on?

That sounds scary and hard.

Here’s an idea or two for you to use right away to shift that fear. We’ll start with the power of your mind, like MLK Jr. suggested.

ALL ABOUT ASSUMPTIONS
There’s a saying that I always remember, “When you assume, you’re making an ASS out of U or ME.” Get it? ASSUME…ASS-U-ME. Ok, you get it.

Assumptions are a killer of all things positive and true in life because most of the time your assumptions are wrong.

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You send an email to your boss with a question and he never responds.

You start to wonder why he didn’t respond. You assume that he didn’t like your tone in the email. Or maybe your question was stupid or so obvious that he didn’t see the point in responding.

This is the moment when you need to tame your mind, to use the POWER of your mind to overcome that natural instinct toward fear. We’re afraid of the unknown. It’s a powerful biological driver that is deeply embedded in our psyche to keep us safe. It extends from our biological roots when we literally had to stay safe from being eaten every day to modern dangers like getting rejected by your co-workers or friends. This biological need to stay safe is not your friend. You have to consciously make a choice to overrule it.

You may assume the worst: she’s going to be mad at me. She’s going to yell at me. She’s going to say no to me. She’s going to tell everyone that I’m a flake or a bad person. All these assumptions running through your head keep you locked down in a place of fear.

GET A GRIP! 
Look your assumptions in the eye and say, “Hey, I see you there, you negative voice in my head. But you may or may not be sure…let’s go find out!”

And you ask a question.

You go to your boss and say, “I sent you an email a few days ago about this. I’d like to know what you think.” Or “Did you get my email from a few days ago about this? When is a good time for us to discuss?”

Most of the time you’ll hear a response like, “Oh, yes, I saw that but I haven’t had time to respond.” Or you’ll hear a, “No, I didn’t see that, can you please resend it to me?”

You just saved yourself an awful lot of mental energy worrying about something that isn’t true!

THE BOTTOM LINE 
We all feel fear. Start changing your mindset by questioning your assumptions. Ask a question instead. Find the truth and you shall overcome!

WHAT’S NEXT?
I’m doing a mini-series on this topic. Next week I’ll be writing about “Understanding (and overcoming) your fear” with some inspiration from Tim Ferris. Yes, I stole that title from his email last week.

Live it, learn it and love it! Share this to make our tribe thrive!

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