Suppose that you are invited to a network event, where important and well-known people will be present. This would be a great opportunity for you and your business. You decide to go there, with all those great ideas for connecting with other people. As soon as you are there, you start to feel some emotions.
You feel discomfort in your body as a result of invisible forces in your body, mostly fears of being rejected, not being good enough, unworthy, playing small, etc. In most of cases we are not aware of these fears but only to the discomfort that we feel.
Let’s stop for a moment and breathe deeply a couple of times. Recall moments when you have been in such situations. How you felt and what did you want to do immediately? Disappear! Why does this happen? This happens because you have just activated the Wheel of Fear. Let me explain it in detail:
Initially when you enter in the room you start feeling the discomfort. What should I do? Whom should I approach? Would they like my presence? Am I at their level? Who am I to approach these people? “I‘m nuts” and so on. A lot of information is being processed in our mind (consciously and unconsciously) that generates thoughts and eventually emotions. At the moment that you think to approach them (trigger) you start feeling the fear of rejection.
Your fear gets activated and makes you do something, unconsciously to protect you from being hurt, in this case from being rejected. You see, our fear tries to “protect us” from being hurt! You get paralyzed without a clear idea of what do you want to do. In fact you think that the best choice should have been not to come at the event at all. Your heart starts to race fast; your stomach and throat clench and your hands are sweating the same way as you react when facing a physical theat. Amygdala, an almond shaped brain center, is the part of the brain responsible for all this reaction (it used to be called primitive brain or the survival brain).
You are alone, somewhere in the room, thinking that everyone is seeing you, judging you, ridiculing you. You are stuck, not moving at all and wondering why some people are lucky and approach to others easily.
Instead of moving towards the people you want to meet, you move in the different direction, giving all possible excuses to yourself that they might feel disturbed by your presence, that you are not good enough to be in that circle of friends, that you are not dressed properly, that what you can say will not be interesting, etc., etc. You start feeling bad emotions: your heart races fast, your hands are sweating and your stomach and throat clench the same way as if you were in front of a bear in the forest. Your Wheel of Fear is activated and is being fed by your thoughts.
You move in the way as wishing to disappear from that network meeting, trying to be somewhere in the corner and trying to shutting yourself off from the contacts that can be beneficial to you. You keep telling yourself that you will do something next time, without knowing that you are making your Wheel of Fear spinning even faster. You go towards the drinks’ corner and pour yourself something just to avoid being among other people that can reject you!
Your behavior starts to become self-destructive and can take different forms as alcohol drinking, smoking, overeating, keeping yourself isolated from others, etc. etc. This is a set of behaviors that we as adults label it with the term PERSONALITY without being able to understand its roots.
How many of us have been in such situations? Just relax a little and recall those moments when you felt uncomfortable… Maybe not a networking event, but public speaking, or a moment when you were being triggered by your partner, spouse, peers, an embarrassing wedding party, a dinner when you were being played as a fool, a dating, et cetera.
I had these feelings for many, many years and regardless of my career, status, and appearance I continued to feel the same till the moment that I recognized my fears and dealt with them.
The Wheel of Fear is triggered by what we get through our senses such as a word, a look, a sound or something else that unconsciously reminds us to avoid the person, place or situation. When our Wheel of Fear runs our life, we automatically respond to the trigger (word, sound, smell, person, place, circumstance, etc.), followed by negative feelings and as a result, self-destructive behavior. All this process happens on autopilot way, we are not yet aware till we see the consequences due to our behavior.
When I was dealing with my fears the best definition that I came by was: “Fear is both the cause and effect of the thoughts, feelings or actions that prohibit you from accepting yourself and realizing your full potential”.