How to Build a Strong Base & Effective Emergency Systems
Two years ago, I quit my secure full-time job to start my own company. I ventured into the risky waters of financial insecurity with a small boat made of unpolished ideas and leaking self-confidence. I should have expected the storms that came my way — but still — they hit me hard, plucking further holes into my boat, leaving me knee-deep in self-doubt and chronic anxiety.
I know now that what you need when you go after your dreams and are faced with all kinds of fear — fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of success and fear of what other people think — is a strong fleet and emergency systems that enable you to venture into even deeper, stormier, unknown waters. And keep moving. Because storms are like fears: they can leave you paralyzed for days if not weeks, if you are not prepared. And they can kill you if you don’t have a strong base and powerful safety equipment. So here is what you can do to master the fear storms — because you can’t keep them from happening, you can only learn to deal with them better.
How to build your fleet: Your strong base for fearing less.
Building your fleet is like setting up the base for dealing with fear. It requires you to understand the fear and identify where your fear is hiding, as well as create a support system consisting of people, habits and conscious lifestyle choices.
Understand the role of fear
Nature has gifted us with useful fears that are designed to protect us from real dangers — like lions and starvation. But in modern times, we rarely experience real dangers. Instead, most fears are destructive and hold us back from realizing our true potential. Accept that fear is an inevitable and valuable part of our shared human nature. Thus, you cannot learn to be fearless, just to fear less.
Identify the patterns how fear shows up in your life
For some people, fear hides behind procrastination or perfectionism. Others experience physical fear effects like a tightness in the chest, chronic pain or recurring illnesses. Sometimes, fear is suppressed by destructive behavior like excessive drinking, smoking, working, shopping or eating. And other times, fear simply makes you stuck and causes you to settle way below your potential — in your career, your relationships, your lifestyle, your income, etc. Identifying your fears and understanding how they are running your life is a crucial first step to fearing less. Self-awareness and mindfulness exercises, as well as consciously questioning recurring patterns in your life, can be a great help in this process. I have found journaling, yoga and long walks in nature to be most effective for me personally.
Replace fear-based limiting beliefs with empowering ones
Limiting beliefs are subconscious thought patterns that guide your actions and decisions. Most of these self-limiting beliefs were created in our childhood or teenage years and are still largely determining how we think of ourselves. But since those beliefs have been programmed into our subconscious mind, they guide our decisions and actions without us even noticing. In order to achieve big, bold goals, we need to upgrade our mindset with a new set of empowering beliefs.
Make it a habit to break up big goals into small chunks
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and scared to start a big project. Paired with procrastination and a constant striving for perfection, this leads to inaction. But if we are afraid of something, the only way to move forward is to face your fear and just do it. And the more we practice, the more we gain the confidence to take the next step. To avoid being paralyzed by fear & overwhelm, make it a habit to break up your goal into tiny pieces and start with the easiest, fastest first step you are confident to take. By doing it, you will gather the confidence to take the next, bigger step.
Reduce biological anxiety triggers
Lack of sleep and exercise, excessive alcohol, caffeine & nicotine consumption as well as processed foods can have a significant impact on your mental state. If you are sleep deprived and over-caffeinated you are much more likely to freak out and find yourself in a cycle of fear. Although this sounds obvious, these biological triggers are often completely underestimated.
Build up your support circle & ignore the rest
Fear and self-doubt flourish in isolation. But sharing your struggles with people that understand and deeply care about you creates emotional and physical resilience. On the other hand, other people are often a source of fear — the fear of judgment and embarrassment. Thus, define your support circle wisely and only care about what these people think when it comes to big decisions in your life. Make sure your support cycle matches your beliefs and shares your courageous way of living. Next time you worry what “other people” think, remind yourself of your support circle and ask yourself what they would think, not just “everyone”. This can be an instant fear fighter when you realize that your support cycle would actually be proud of you for trying — no matter the outcome.
Start a Daily Courage Ritual
Becoming fearless is an illusion as we can’t control the emotions that enter our mind. We can only control how we react to them. Thus, learning to fear less is ultimately a daily practice. A daily practice of becoming aware of our fear, understanding and metabolizing it, reframing it and letting it go. We can train our mind in all of these aspects through journaling, meditation, visualization and encouraging affirmations. Building your own daily courage ritual is one of the most powerful ways to build a strong base for fearing less.
Develop your intuition to be able to distinct true fear from false fear
Fear is not always just unnecessarily holding us back. It can also show up as a weird gut feeling or an intuitive hunch telling you NOT to do something. This is called intuition and it’s a powerful tool to avoid bad decisions. The more you develop your intuition by listening to your inner voice, the better you are able to distinct intuitive guidance from false, destructive fear.
How to build your emergency systems: tools & techniques for immediate fear & anxiety relief
If you build a strong fleet, you will see long-term positive effects in dealing with small to medium fear storms, especially when you are suffering from chronic anxiety as your daily companion. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t face big, dark storms ever again. And when they come, they can still crush you — if your emergency systems are weak. Here is what to do in a fear storm — try out what works for you and be deliberate about using your safety tools immediately so you can get back to safer waters fast.
Deep Breathing Exercises
Connecting with your breath is a powerful way to relax your nervous system and calm down. Breathing exercises are particularly relieving if your anxiety shows up as a tightness in the chest.
Here are a few breathing exercises to try.
There are also a few great apps that offer guided breathing exercises:
- Breathe from Kenkou
This is a powerful no-brainer. Moving your body, especially when getting your heart rate up, relaxes your mind and lightens your mood. If you are stuck in a negative thought cycle of fear and worry, put on your running shoes and just take a quick run around the block.
4-Step Emotional Reset Process
The 4-Step-Emotional Reset is designed to move you from a deeply negative emotion like fear or anger through a simple, 4-step process of accepting, metabolizing, reframing and releasing the emotion. The goal is to let go of unhelpful negative emotions quickly so you can move on with your day. However, the process is NOT about ignoring your emotions — it is actually the opposite: it is about actively dealing with an emotion so you can extract the lesson or insight it is trying to tell you without letting yourself get caught up in it for hours. This helps you to operate at peak performance as much as possible and lets you truly enjoy the moment without being clouded by lingering negative emotions.
I wrote more about it here:
Shower in Oxytocin
The hormone oxytocin is a powerful stress releaser because it makes you feel safe and supported. When overwhelmed with fear, try hugging it out with a loved one. Actually, any physical contact will help — even getting a massage releases waves of oxytocin in your body.
Put things into perspective
Research shows that 80% of our fears and worries actually never happen. Reminding yourself that the fear is only in your mind can be a powerful technique to stop you from over-identifying with your fear.
Another trick is to ask yourself: What is the worst thing that can happen?Once you are clear about your worst-case scenario, note down a few ideas to deal with it — if were to happen. This exercise will help you to put the situation into perspective when you realize the worst case is not that bad and it makes you feel safe when you are clear about what you would do in this situation.
Tap away your feat with EFT
EFT is short for Emotional Freedom Technique. Using your fingertips to tap specific meridian points on your body can be a simple but powerful way to alleviate your fear. You can read more about it here.
Going after your dreams requires risky decisions. This is scary. And your fear is like a big, dark storm — it can hold you back from going out there and moving forward. But if you build a strong fleet and effective emergency systems, you are prepared to face all those fear storms and keep pushing forward until you reach the land of your dreams.
Liz Huber is a Mindset & Productivity Coach and Founder of refinedlife.io. With her books, courses, and 1-on-1 work, she helps entrepreneurs overcome overwhelm, lack of focus, fear, and self-doubt. As a result, her clients are able to confidently achieve their goals by prioritizing what is truly important and streamlining everything else.