My foot tapping uncontrollably, while perspiring profusely with goose bumps populating all over my body, as I played Russian Roulette with the thoughts in my own head. Should I pull the trigger, stand up and express my idea or do I continue to let fear dictate my actions?
The more I thought about it, the more afraid I became, and my body responded almost instantaneously. Then, something suddenly happened. I became aware of what my body was unconsciously responding to and as I became conscious of my thoughts, I asked myself why was I scared in the first place?
With my thoughts in check, my body began to respond accordingly. I started to feel strong, mentally and physically, which allowed me to feel less fearful. Positive thoughts began seeping into my consciousness, thus allowing me to stand and ask my question in the massive ballroom at the Baltimore Convention Center.
This is exactly what took place in my mind in a ballroom filled to capacity of cyber security professionals from academia, government agencies and the private sector; and the person to whom I wanted to direct my question just happened to be Admiral Michael Rogers, who at the time was serving as the 17th Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the second commander of the U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM). As you might have guessed, I think I had every right to be nervous.
Researchers refer to this human process as “analysis paralysis.” You may have heard of it as fight or flight, but whatever you may call it, I guarantee that you have been here before. We all have. Whether you’re afraid to ask a question in the classroom, or have a great idea in a work meeting, or even if you are avoiding having a difficult conversation that you know needs to happen with a significant other, trust me, we’ve all been there.
Fear can hold you back from the job promotion you’ve been wanting and it can keep you stagnant in solving problems in your life that you know you need to fix.
If we know that fear can hold us back from what we really want in our lives, why do we continue to allow it to control to us?
There are no mistakes in the way humans were designed. Fear was embedded into us since the dawn of our existence to keep the species alive and safe. However, that’s not the type of fear, I am talking about. I am talking about the fear that you know you need to overcome to push your life to the next level. It’s time to grab your life by the reins and take critical action towards the fear you know you need to overcome.
Over the past couple of years, I started to become more conscious of my thoughts, emotions and the way my body responds to “fearful” moments in my life. I began to try different strategies to overcome these fearful responses. Now, when I notice my foot tapping uncontrollably, I begin to consciously think positive thoughts, which directly slows down the tapping of my foot. When I notice myself sweating, I start to quiet myself while taking slow, deep breaths that eventually slows down my perspiration rate.
This is the reason why after a couple of seconds of noticing what my body was doing, I knew I had just the right amount of courage to stand up, walk to the microphone and ask my question related to attribution with regards to cyber security attacks. This is exactly what I did at the NSA’s 2017 Information Assurance Symposium (IAS) in front of hundreds of people.
Fear can either be your worst enemy or it can be used to your advantage in a work situation, in your relationships, and in accomplishing your goals. It’s our job to become conscious of how our mind and body operates in moments of fearful or stressful situations and implement the strategies needed to overcome them.
Your life is waiting. Everything that you want in life is on the other side of fear. Build your courage. Become aware of your negative thoughts and push yourself past our primitive nature to become the master of your destiny.
Fear can be your worst enemy or it can be your best friend that pushed you to reach your fullest potential. You choose.
Positively Caviar, Inc. is a nonprofit organization focused on a message of positivity and optimism. Once a month, our Nucleus Team writes a column focused on mental and physical health tips, scientific studies, nutrition facts and stories that are positive in nature to support a purposeful and positive lifestyle. To learn more about our organization, the nucleus team or how you join our positive movement, visit: staybasedandpositive.com