Last week I hosted my first ever Fearshop. Fearshop is a place to openly share and discuss social anxieties.
Social anxieties are the biggest reason for not achieving the things we want in life! The fear of speaking in public, talking to strangers or just speaking our mind is something that affects us all.
Just thinking two years back I would not have been able to publish a blog post or host a workshop. But I decided to overcome it, simply by doing it.
This method is also known as exposure therapy and it simply means you expose yourself to whatever you might be afraid of.
And that’s great! But there are some problems;
- It’s an unknown method to most people
- It’s hard to practise and do alone
This is what I want to solve!
The usual approach to testing would be to build a technical prototype, but instead I started Pretotyping. Pretotyping means you don’t build anything, but instead do the absolute minimum to get validation and understand the problem.
So I’ve been running experiments, some including highfiving strangers and dancing Lindy Hop, which you can read all about here.
And Fearshop is my latest experiment.
My idea was to host a workshop and for participants to share the fears that impact their lives.
I was very anxious about my Fearshop, I’ve been procrastinating for weeks and was afraid that no one would show up. Ironically I fell into the trap I was trying to solve, I was afraid.
Everyone was given post-its and tasked with writing down everything they have ever been afraid or anxious about and add it to the Fearwall.
There was also an option to use the Fearbox for people to share in privacy.
Just 20 minutes later the wall had been filled with more than 120 fears. Afterwards we took some time to talk about reasonings and stories about the post-its. Some fears were very specific, some less. Some fears had a lot of influence in people’s lives, some less. Some fears people were willing to do something about, some less.
Two of us (including me) are anxious about driving a car, but living and working in London it doesn’t hinder us in our daily lives. While my fear of going out on my own has been hindering me my whole life.
After the workshop I organised the post-its into groups:
(The list below is sorted according to most common)
- Conflict, letting people down, disappointing and imposter syndrome
- Public speaking and writing
- Creatures, snails, slugs, spiders
- Interacting with strangers, acquaintances, friends and authorities
- Death or danger to you and others
- Wasting time and lacking focus
- Water, swimming or drowning
- Heights, flying or airplanes
- Being late to something important
- Financial issues
The categories often overlap and some are consequences of others, but the first two can basically be boiled down to the fear of not being good enough. This showed up over 30 times during the workshop.
The fear of being judged can result in us not sharing our ideas. Imagine how many good (and bad) ideas that have never seen the light of day because of this, imagine how damaging it is to us as individuals but also to our society — This is the driving force for my work in this field and the main reason we need to do something about it!
We can easily live our whole life without publishing that blogpost, pitching the next snapchat or presenting at the Monday meeting. We become experts in avoiding uncomfortable situations, It gets us in neither a good or bad situation and it’s that comfortable spot that is the biggest danger.
“If you ever think your idea is stupid, just remember the guy who pitched Sharknado” — someone on Twitter
I am a world champion at avoiding uncomfortable situations. That’s exactly why I’m writing this post, I fear your reaction while reading it, good or bad. But publishing this will make it less painful the next time.
What’s is next?
- I want formulate a list of challenges and do the challenges with a group of people— Is this you?
- I want to talk to people with any form of experience with exposure therapy — please get in touch!
- I want to hear from more people living with anxieties — Keep sharing!
Get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
Big love to my forever Fampany, ustwo. To Gayane for facilitating the workshop and the moral support. But most of all to everyone who participated and shared fears.