Do you have FOPYOT? It’s not a Danish probiotic drink (but I wish it was). It’s the ‘fear of putting yourself out there’. And it’s a real thing.
If you’re a thoughtful, intelligent person – you’re probably not going to escape that frisson of fear when you promote yourself online. But you can overcome it.
I invited Sarah Swanton of Happy Healthy Entrepreneur to discuss this very question with me: How do you overcome the fear of putting yourself out there?
The article below accompanies the video – but we have edited it to include a few more ideas and resources to help you overcome those marketing yips.
Sarah, why do we ‘fear’ marketing ourselves online – particularly on social media?
Sarah Swanton: First thing to say is how common it is to have feelings of resistance or the fear of putting yourself out there – especially online. You’re not alone. People can feel so excited about ideas – and they’ve got genuinely good ideas to share that would really help people – and yet when they come to putting it out there in social media they feel stuck or frozen. Unable to connect with people online in the way they can in person.
And that’s one very human reason you may feel unable to give the best of yourself online: as humans we’re social creatures, wired to connect to others and respond, in conversation, to their signs and signals. In person, you’re getting all kinds of feedback – even over the phone. You can feel your way through a conversation.
On social media – especially in the early days – you’re speaking into a void. There’s no feedback.
That’s when we start making stuff up in our heads. And we begin to believe it.
“I’ve got nothing of value to say.”
These thoughts are often things like: “Oh, I’ve got nothing of value to say.” “No one’s reading my stuff. “I’m coming across terribly. “What I’m saying is so basic, who’s even getting anything from this?” You know the stuff.
When you believe the thoughts in your head, it feels so real. It feels really compelling and so it’s no wonder that you may feel resistant because it seems like the stakes are really high. And so it just feels easier not to do it and believe that social media is just not for you.
But none of it is a reality. Just like an online world – the thoughts you’re believing are creating a virtual reality.
Is marketing yourself online always scary? Do these thoughts ever go away?
Sarah: Speaking from personal experience – I still get those feelings of resistance every now and again. I also sometimes feel nervous. Sometimes I feel excited. Sometimes I’m happy. Sometimes I’m frustrated.
What I’ve come to see is that as human beings, we have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of different emotions throughout the day.
And we get hoodwinked by believing that the thoughts and the feelings we don’t like have something to do with what we’re doing. Have something to do with the activity, have something to do with a person, have something to do with an event. It’s very compelling.
We’ll be going about our day, we’ll have something coming up that we’re not perhaps too familiar with and we’ll happen to be feeling anxious and we’re looking around going, “Right. “I’m feeling anxious. What’s causing it? What is causing this feeling?” And we point to something. And that moment that we point to something outside of us: Boom. We’ve made a connection. Like Facebook Live causes me to feel nervous.
The truth of the matter is that we only ever feel our thinking. We don’t feel our circumstances directly. It’s all 100% thought generated. And to know that logically is one thing. But just take a moment to let that sink in.
You’re always living in the feeling of your thinking, not your circumstances.
What encouragement would you give people who want to overcome the ‘fear of putting yourself out there’?
There are two things you can do. The first is ask yourself: Am I making this up, or is this reality?
As human beings, we do really well in reality. We thrive in reality but we get confused and muddled when we’re trying to live in a world of illusion.
The second question to ask is: where do I think my feelings are coming from?
Do I really believe they are coming from this group of people I’m speaking to? Do I really believe they’re zapping me with these feelings?
Most likely you’ll ‘fall out of your thinking’. You’ll be saying “Oh yeah. I made that up! I really believed it for a moment”.
And then, you’re back in reality and life becomes easier and you can do so much more – including starting to foster genuine connections online with people who want to hear from you, no matter how small or large that number is.
A final note from Cat: I hope you take in what Sarah is saying to help you overcome the fear of putting yourself out there. It’s not a five step cabbage-diet formula to feeling more confident – it’s a profound shift.
The more you show up online and the better you can change the locus to think what you can do for those you want to work with, the easier it will become. Until you take the next step. You know this: Fear – when there isn’t a real threat to your safety – can be an indication of growth.
We spoke about not having any feedback online. Speak to people. Don’t just show up online and then never talk to anybody else about it. Speak to your customers, speak to people around you, join groups and create an extended community around your online presence and support each other. Build up your network of cheerleaders who are there for you. And then you start to get that feedback.
And the more you do it, the fear comes up but then you become familiar with that feeling.
Sarah Swanton is a Coach and the founder of Happy Healthy Entrepreneur. She works with thoughtful and purpose-driven entrepreneurs who want to create a successful and meaningful life without the hustle, bustle and burnout cycle of working.
She is the creator of The Effortless Path To Success, a live 6-week group programme which is designed to take a load off your mind (and your to-do list) so that you have more time, energy and headspace for the people and things that matter to you most in life and business.
For more information go to www.happyhealthyentrepreneur.com