Why does it matter?
Fear, worry and anxiety can overpower you if you let them get out of control. For too long, people adopted the strategy of hoping they would go away or; trying to work around them. However, if you want to make real progress in life, you cannot let your fears, worries and anxieties dictate the terms by which you live. You need to take them on and challenge them. And, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Challenging your fear can be as simple as asking ‘Why does it matter?’
It may surprise you to know that the most common fear is a fear which can seriously hamper your productivity – public speaking. The great thing about public speaking is that you can deliver the same information to many people, at the same time. You can even allow some time for a little Q & A which allows all in attendance to benefit from hearing the answers to each others’ questions. Of course it also means that you only have to answer each question once. If you cannot overcome your fear of public speaking, you are going to end up having the same conversations repeatedly and answering the same questions over and over again. That’s not good for your productivity.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Whether your fear is a fear of public speaking or any other fear; Cognitive Behavioural Therapy teaches us to break down our fears into their underlying beliefs. The fear is only the symptom. To overcome the fear, you have to identify and deal with the cause i.e. the underlying belief. Identifying the underlying belief allows you to bring it out into the open where you can challenge the belief and eliminate it.
When you challenge the belief, you may prove to yourself that it is not true. Once you have done this and accepted the truth; the fear will no longer be able to control you. In some cases, you may not be able to disprove the fear but you can prepare yourself to deal with it, should the situation arise. An example of this might be that you are afraid that you will forget your words while delivering a presentation. There are 2 easy actions you can take to minimise the damage and reduce the fear – you can rehearse until you are confident and you can prepare some notes to jog your memory and get you back on track. Can you see how all of this might reduce your fear?
Why does it matter?
But there’s another way we can challenge our limiting beliefs and get some more perspective and that’s to ask the simple question ‘why does it matter?’.
You may be fearful about things that might go wrong. You are overly worried and this in turn affects your performance; thus increasing the likelihood that something will actually go wrong. In most cases, when you ask ‘Why does it matter?’ you will find that it doesn’t matter at all. Sometimes though, you will find that the answer lies elsewhere and you really shouldn’t be worried.
That last bit may sound confusing so I will give you an example from my own experience.
I used to be very fearful when going into sales meetings with potential clients. I found that the nervousness and fear did come across in my voice and body language. My sales rate was not very good so, I asked myself ‘Why does it matter?’ The answer was that I had so few sales opportunities and if I didn’t make the sales, I had no idea when the next opportunity to make a sale would be. I had no reason to be fearful of the sales meetings as I knew my business and services inside out. What I needed to do was improve my marketing to get more sales opportunities. I have done that now and the difference is amazing. I have regular sales meetings so I don’t panic over any one meeting. I just go into the meeting with the aim of providing the potential client with all of the information that they need in order to make a decision. Whether that decision is in my favour or not is not that important.
Other cases where you might benefit from asking the question include; why does it matter if:
- One or two people don’t like your presentation?
- Someone says ‘No’ when you ask them out?
- One bank says ‘No’ to your loan application?
- You don’t get that promotion?
- You don’t get the weather you would like for your day out?
- One person hates you?
If you are struggling to stay calm in the face of fear, anxiety or stress; Breathe will help you.
In the short-term, these things may seem like major issues but in the long-term they are not. There are many things which you may fear in your life but few, if any, of them will be worthy of the energy you spend worrying about them. You don’t need everybody to like you. You don’t need everybody to say ‘Yes’ to your requests. The majority of the time, there will be other opportunities to get what you want but even if there aren’t, you can still make the best out of virtually any situation. If you are experiencing fear; identify your underlying beliefs and ask yourself ‘Why does it matter?’.