Are you scared of fire alarms or fires? Is it the thought of the fire or the fire?
Like Pavlov’s dog, it is possible to condition yourself to be fearful of your thoughts. The thought of speaking in front of a group can be every bit as scary as actually speaking in front of a group. You could get yourself in a state about something that cannot happen. Like a lift falling thirty floors. Mechanically impossible. Terrifying in your thoughts and imagination.
Fear has its place. It is a survival mechanism. It is meant as a warning. Take care. It will help you take action unless you give it too much attention. It will then paralyse you or prevent you from doing and saying what needs to be done and said. Some people are more prone to fearful reactions. They are more careful. Some people are fearless and put their lives at risk. If you are in the middle, you need to decide what is truly dangerous before deciding against action.
For example, speaking in public or giving feedback to another.
You could avoid both. If you do, you miss the opportunity to influence the behaviour of others. Speaking to a group can have change their motivation or thinking for the better. Giving feedback can assist people to modify unhelpful behaviours. Avoidance changes nothing.
So, how to deal with the thoughts that trigger fear.
I am sure you have tried many ways. Here is one that works for me….and many others.
Identify the thought as only a thought. Imagine being in a cemetery after dark on a cold, windy night. Expect scary thoughts. Identify that they are only thoughts. Not spirits on the loose. A good start is to say to yourself ‘There’s that thought again”. It will move on once identified. In the cemetery ‘That’s only a tree moving in the wind”.
You don’t and won’t control the thoughts that come into your mind. You can decide which ones to entertain and which ones to let move on. Bit like emails. Open some. Delete others.
Try this for a week. Identify helpful thoughts and dwell on them. Let the unhelpful ones drift by. Call them what they are. There’s that “I can’t speak in public” thought again. Keep track of how many positive thoughts you have. Keep a gratitude journal to help you attract positive thoughts. Beware of getting rid of negative thoughts. If you focus on them, they breed.
Try it. Engaging positive thoughts and identifying the fear producing thoughts as mere thoughts.