Fear is one of the most powerful words in the English language. Heck in any language. For it refers to something primal. Something that we feel deep within ourselves. An emotion, that all of us have felt from time to time. That all of us must feel from time to time.
But what is fear actually? To call it an emotion, whilst understandable, is to also miss the point of what it truly is. A sensation that connects with something deep within us. Fear is a state of mind that a person enters when he/she is or feels threatened, but also when he she faces someting new, exciting and challengeing.
On occassions when you are faced with novelty; when encountering a scenario that challenges you in ways that you are not used to. Fear, often times implies the presence of something new. Which, contrary to what many might think need not always be something actually ‘fearful’.
When we speak of fear it is natural to think of that which terrifies us, scares us, and makes us feel uncomfortable at a gut level.
But what is interesting, speaking of the times we’re in, and of the reader, who I am guessing is likely to be city-dwellers, living in a Western nation or in an urban environment of the sort, with a relative degree of social stability.
Places where real danger that can threaten you on a recurrent basis: like wild animals, the threat of armed conflict, or violent crime is not a day-to-day occurrence. Well, unless you happen to be living in Detroit!
The truth is when it comes to the question of fear, in terms of the sources of fear that people come to face, the reality in question is often a more subtle one. But given its pervasiveness, and ingrained character of our response to such realities, and how it affects our ability to perform in the world' makes it all the more serious.
What is Fear?
If you look through the literature there is virtually no limit to the number of sayings, maxims, words of wisdom, and proverbs that one can find on the subject of fear.
The phrase ‘Do not be afraid’ features prominently in Christian Scripture, and with good reason.
But in order to not be afraid in any given situation, well at least be able to deal with the fear that you face-since fear as a sensation cannot ever be fully negated-we need to understand what goes on in our minds.
The psychology that underpins this problem is something you need to consider when dealing with fear.
Some of us have heard of the flight or fight response of the brain.
A closer look at this area of human psychology reveals that in addition to these two well-known states, there is also the third ‘freeze’ state.
What these ‘responses’ or states of mind refer to is an innate reaction to certain external stimuli, that trigger a set of responses within the person.
Which causes the person to act or as is often the case, ‘react’ in a certain way, if the situation is perceived as threatening or potentially threatening. At which point the person in that scenario can either choose to flee the situation, tighten up and get confrontational, or simply go blank and do nothing!
Or in worse cases, suffer some kind of anxiety attack, which can either worsen the situation, by blowing the problem he is facing or thinks he is facing, out of proportion.
So when it comes to fear, returning to the point about the urban city dweller in a Western city; unless you are faced with some dramatic or unforeseen situation: like a mugging, a motor accident, or some disastrous natural event. Cases where the genuine fear and the irrational responses it is likely to generate, are quite slim. For the kind of ‘fears’ we are likely to run into are a lot milder. But they are nonetheless serious in their character.
Consider here the great words of Epictetus the great Stoic philosopher: “Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.
For often times the sources of fear or anxiety, which is a keyword in this discussion, can emanate from sources that are not necessarily fear-inducing. But the kind of response, and preceding it, the kind of mental state the person in question may enter, will vary greatly with the respect to the person in question and the state there are in life.
This takes us to the next point: the sources of fear.
Key Sources of Fear for Modern Men
If you take the average guy who reads or follows content on personal and professional development. Let’s say someone in his mid-20s. Straight. Living in the city. After college or with some tertiary education or having some skills training under him. Working in the industry. Decent pay, place to stay etc.
Provided he is not a public speaker, or someone who works in media and communication (an arena where women dominate), or in sales, or with sizable social media following. But even if he does these things; the guy in question is likely to have some fear or better, insecurities or let’s just say some ‘issues' when it comes to the following:
Approaching (hot) Women
Let’s take each one at a time. For by dissecting these different but interrelated sources of fear we get closer to answering the question of how to have confidence even when you are afraid.
Fear of Public Speaking
The subject of public speaking is an interesting one in that in present times, thanks to the rise in social media, particularly with the popularity of vlogging, has meant that hitherto introverts and people who are driven by social anxiety have been given something of a way out.
However, when it comes to facing one’s true fears in the social arena, almost nothing beats the idea of stepping out, ideally on stage, in the midst of a group of people, strangers importantly, and then being able to articulate what you think or believe, in a coherent form that is pertinent to the time and place.
Developing a mindset where you able to step out of your comfort zone is a key stage in overcoming not just your fear of speaking in public, but also your ability to function effectively as a social creature.
The art of public speaking connects with other positive personal traits: Such as having good communication skills, havin control over your voice and tonality, to be able to address people as individuals and as groups, and much more.
And did I mention that being able to speak well publicly makes you a thing with the ladies? This takes us to the next point.
Fear of Approaching (hot) Women
Well, no surprises here. The subject of approaching women can be categorized under the heading of dating and relationships.
However, the way things are going these days, with, in case you haven’t been following the developments in this area: from the decline in the number of men in their prime having sex, having less frequent sex.
In addition to the rise in the various men’s movements: from the red pills, the black pills and others.
Making things complicated, there is the issue of the widespread use of pornography; which connects with the arena of women and relaitonships.
In other words, this is no longer a light subject matter.
When it comes to women in the West (or anywhere else for that matter) men are required to be the leaders.
Which in practice means the importance of being the risk-takers. The ones who are willing to go out make something happen.
In practice, this means walking up to a stranger-a girl you find attractive-whether it is in a bar, club, or even in daytime situations like in malls, cafes, or even on the street; introduce yourself, and start a conversation and seeing where it leads.
Believe it or not some men, No, a whole lot of men today are utterly terrified of the prospect of approaching a girl they find attractive.
So much so that it has given rise to a phrase that has become common in the dating industry: ‘Approach Anxiety'. A state of mind, that men feel when it comes to approaching a girl, one that connects with… You guessed it: ‘fear’.
Which is perfectly fine by the way. Because the origin of this fear is one that is deeply ingrained in human nature.
When you approach a pretty girl in a public area, with the intention of let’s say starting something: it could mean anything from just saying hi, getting a number, or if you are really brave setting up an ‘insta-date’ (another industry term); a number of things that would go through your mind.
These often take the form of questions. Such as: ‘What if she ignores me?’ ‘What if she says ‘no’?’ ‘What if she has a boyfriend?’, ‘What will the people around me think?’.
Each of these questions fuels a sense of unease inside the person. Or in a word ‘fear’. This is something almost every guy feels.
When faced with this ‘fear’ of approaching the key difference is that depending on the person’s experience, skill, and social calibration he will be able to navigate these challenge well, or at least better than other men.
To understand the reality of approach anxiety we need to go a bit deeper into its origins. One that takes us into the area of behavioral and evolutionary psychology.
One of the reasons why men feel a sense of angst, or sometimes outright fear at varying levels, when they are faced with the scenario of approaching a girl they find attractive, is that it kindles emotions that take us back to primal times.
A time of tribal organization, where if a male approaches a female with the aim of making sexual advances, and is rejected, he is likely to be ostracized by the tribe. Or if the female he approaches already has a partner, that male is likely to try and kill him.
Things are a bit different now. (Whew)
Especially if you happen to be living in a Western city or nation. Where there are hundreds of thousands of women around. And the consequences for approaching the ‘wrong’ girl, or for getting blown off, are not going to be death or social exclusion.
However, the underlying fear circuits remain. And it is up to each individual guy to work past them.
‘We are more often frightened than hurt, and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.
In other words, when going in for the approach, you are going to feel something. Which often takes the form of anxiety, which for the newbies among will verge on outright fear. But that is OK.
The problem lies in not what you feel, but what you choose to do, despite what you feel.
So just get out and approach that hot girl.
The Fear of Rejection
The fear of rejection is a more subtle factor. One that underlies many of the social fears that people, specifically men in this instance, carry with them.
Notably, in many personal and relational anxieties that burdens our thoughts and planned actions.
The uncertainties that hold us back as we work to reach our goals of personal development.
To overcome the fear of rejection we need to understand what rejection is? According to the Oxford dictionary, there are basically two forms of rejection a person may face (1).
One form of rejection is that of dismissal of a proposal or suggestion one may make, usually with the aim of getting something in return.
Which could take the form of positive feedback, such as verbal acknowledgment, or something concrete, as a financial reward or some contractual benefit.
Thus the idea of rejection in a professional sense takes many forms. From having your application for a prospective job being turned down, to having your job interview canceled at the last minute, to your story or script proposal thrown out by a prospective producer. The examples are countless.
What is also easy to miss in this debate on ‘rejection’ in the professional sphere are the refusals you encounter in the area of networking: from having your calls not returned, your text or WhatsApp messages ignored, or to be removed from an important mailing list.
What has been your reaction or response in those moments? What did you feel?
Whilst fear may not be the word that comes to mind, what is true in each of those instances is a sense of unease, discomfort, a loss of motivation, or better loss of… Confidence. The absence of which, believe it or not, corresponds to fear.
Fear of the unknown. Fear of what comes next. Fear of what you are going to do since this prospect has (apparently) failed!
The second definition of rejection relates to the relational, and specifically the romantic sphere. Here the idea of rejection is something men can relate to. And I mean all men.
The fear of getting spurned by a girl, experience a bloke who is making specific advances. Often with the view that the girl in question is too good for him.
Trust me, we’ve all been there!
What is Confidence in the Face of Fear?
It is the ability to withstand those small moments of ‘rejection’. To be ready to take a ‘No’, or many.
To have reserves or build up anew the motivation to keep going. In face of these hurdles.
For what is interesting is that the two ‘fear factors’: the fear of approaching women, and the fear of public speaking both ties in with the fear of rejection.
How? Well, it connects with core principles when it comes to overcoming your fears and becoming a more confident man.
That principle is the importance of taking a chance. Taking a risk on yourself.
To get out and just do it. Whilst taking on the very real possibility of failure, or the inability to meet your goal at that specific time.
In case you are not aware, for those who embrace the Stoic mindset in life, there is no actual failure in life. Just the inability to meet a certain goal or outcome. This takes us to the next point: how to overcome your fears. Specifically in these their key areas.
Overcoming Your Fears
The key point on the fear of rejection pertains to the state of uncertainty, and the unease it brings, in relation to following or taking a certain course of action. One that all carry with us, which cannot really be removed.
Rather what we can do is to accept it as real, and then work with it, as we work through key areas of your life.
This in practice relates to your dating life, your business and income, your health fitness, and personal development.
And later, as you progress in this journey, and if you get that far, how you are able to build a reputation and establish yourself in the wider community.
Which is where the level of growth in your personal and professional life comes together.
So what is the formula or strategy you need to take to overcome your fears?
Well, a simple step is to reach out. If you are struggling with anything in relation to anything above, one way to get right is to reach out. There is always help for those who seek it. Just make sure it is the right kind of help. But if you are still not sure. Let us break this down for you.
Steps for Being Confident Always
Let’s go back to the title of this post: To be confident, even when you are afraid.
When it comes to three main points of fear: approaching women, public speaking, and fear of rejection, which corresponds to the other two, there is one principle you need to bear in mind: exposure. So this is what you can do.
One: Identify an area of your life that you feel anxious, uncertain, or fearful of.
Two: Ask yourself what is about it that is making you feel uncertain or even scared.
Three: Recognize that what you feel is not unique to you. Fear, especially of the unknown is natural.
Four: Be prepared to face your fears. Which could take many forms? But you need to face them.
Five: Face your fears with external support. Like a focus group, a mentorship, or a coach.
Remember there is no alternative to actually doing things that make you feel afraid.
Fear is something all of us feel. The only difference is how strongly and for what reason.
There are certain things in life that will make any man feel fear. The only difference is what are you going to do when you are faced with it. Fear is natural, but how you react to it is makes all the difference. Do you want to be different?
Oxford-Lexico. 2022. rejection. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.lexico.com/definition/spurn. [Accessed 4 June 2022].