– by Wes Colton, Founder & Coach, Introvert Unbound
Fear is one of the biggest obstacles we introverts face on the path to transforming our social, dating, and work lives. Any number of things might start our hearts palpitating, from embarrassing ourselves in social interactions, to trying our best and still not meeting our goals, to getting our heart broken.
But deep down we all know that refusing to confront that which we dread most only gives it more power over us. To this end, I’d like to share a recent personal experience that shows how facing one’s fears is a lot easier than we think…
A few weeks ago, my 98-year old grandfather passed away and the funeral was scheduled a few days later on the east coast. Living in Colorado, this posed a dilemma for me as I’d been so afraid of flying I hadn’t gotten on an airplane in nineteen years. Yep, the last time I’d flown was the year 2000!
While flying is little more than an inconvenience for most people, for me, it’s been nothing short of terrifying. What’s worse is I’d been nurturing this anxiety for years. Indeed, every time I’ve had to do something that made me nervous, I’d remind myself at least I wasn’t getting on an airplane. While that made my other tasks a tiny bit easier, feeding the fear of flying beast all these years had made it into a monster.
Ordinarily I would’ve taken the long-ass train trip cross-country, but after two decades of being chased by the monster, I got sick and tired of running.
It would’ve been one thing if this was about doing something truly dangerous, like base jumping or ice climbing. But it wasn’t: I was petrified of literally the safest mode of transportation. In fact, every time I got into a car, I was statistically far more likely to die than on a plane, yet somehow driving rarely makes me the slightest bit nervous. And it was this kind of rational thinking that gave me the courage I needed.
Granted, this decision didn’t come on a whim, I had been building up to it for years by regularly pushing my comfort zone in general, and in specific, desensitizing myself to my fear of heights by driving up switchback mountain roads and hiking along cliff faces.
So, when the day came to get on the damned plane, I did it.
I won’t get into the details here, but if you’re interested in the play by play of how I got through my first flight in nineteen years, I talk all about it on episode #26 of the Introvert Unbound Podcast.
All that’s important for this article is that I pushed back against one of my greatest fears and came out way stronger on the other side. Which means that if you’re struggling with anxiety around your social life, there’s no reason you can’t do the same.
I’m not saying it will be easy. Or that you’ll be able to fix everything overnight. But what I am promising is that the anxiety you feel about socializing is far more unpleasant than any real life situation you could find yourself in. And as soon as you acknowledge that giving in to your fears is doing you more harm than confronting them ever would, you’re already halfway there.
Introvert Unbound founder and coach Wes Colton wasted a lot of his life not only avoiding things that made him anxious, but actually feeding those fears. If you’d like his support in confronting your own monsters, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org