What can I do to alleviate fear?

by | April 29, 2012

Podcast Description: Listen to how you can manage the emotional roller coaster of comps and dissertation.

Transcript: The following presentation is a production of Capella University and is not intended for commercial use.

Welcome to another topic in a series of podcasts regarding aspects of the comprehensive exam and dissertation process.

While engaged in learning, individuals experience a wide range of emotions: joy, delight, wonder, disappointment, frustration, and fear. While all emotions need to be managed, fear may be the most significant barrier to adults realizing their full learning potential.

This podcast shares seven ideas on how to manage the fear you might experience throughout your doctoral journey. Acknowledging that fear exists is key to making peace with it.

First, watch self-talk. Staying focused on fear and negativity will exacerbate these feelings and could actually create what you’re thinking. Be careful of establishing a counter-productive, self-fulfilling prophecy.

Second, say affirmations. Believe it or not, they can be effective in helping you engage in positive self-talk and steer you and your subconscious in a forward direction.

Third, ask yourself a few questions: “Do I have any concrete data to support this fear?” “Is my fear rational?” “Do I set up unrealistic expectations?” If so, be careful of setting yourself up for feeling overwhelmed or exhausted. Remember, unrealistic expectations can leave you feeling bad and regretful. These feelings may have nothing to do with your ability to succeed or fail. Unrelenting negative feelings could be a sign that you are setting unrealistic expectations, goals, or deadlines.
If you are writing a dissertation, remember that the dissertation is an opportunity to demonstrate four things: your knowledge of the research process, critical thinking skills, writing skills, and your tenacity. Managing your goal setting and negative feelings are two important steps to maintain motivation while in dissertation and to avoid failure. Remember your dissertation is important. You have selected a topic that is relevant, and your work will contribute to the scholarship in your field; however, it is not your magnum opus. Your great book will come later!

If you can make the doctoral journey not about you–that will help. Try to keep your eyes on the prize. Make this journey about contributing to the research and scholarship in your field, and not about reflecting who you are or putting your self-esteem on the line.

Fourth, make a list of the fears you are feeling and address each one in turn. How can you manage your fears? Identify the best action for each one you identify. In addition, don’t fight your feelings. Rather than trying to overcome and conquer your fears, find ways to cope with them, manage them, and move beyond them. Reframe your fear to something positive, such as, “Although I am afraid of failing, I won’t succeed if I don’t try. I’m going to go for it.” It’s about feeling comfortable about risk. Hockey great, Wayne Gretzky, says this about risk-taking: “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Fifth, brainstorm obstacles in your past that you have successfully navigated. Identify all of the fears associated with them that you had to face. If you have accomplished successes in the face of adversity, you can use these as a source of strength and confidence to face additional challenges.

Sixth, seek guidance and support from a professional, such as someone with expertise in academic stress involved in a doctoral program.

Finally, remember that managing emotions is an internal process. You can manage fear if you recognize that you’re experiencing it and take intentional steps to deal with it.

Reaching any goal of importance requires two commitments: a commitment to manage internal and external obstacles, and a commitment to take action. Visualize the word “Doctor” in front of your name to help maintain a positive, forward-looking attitude, and to keep your eyes on the achievable prize.

Recognizing and managing fear are significant steps toward realizing success and completing your doctoral journey.

Remember, you bring unique circumstances to your doctoral journey. Follow-up with your doctoral advisor for clarification and additional information about the dissertation process.

This presentation has been brought to you by Capella University and may not be re-transmitted or used for any commercial purpose without the expressed written consent of Capella University.

# # #

695 words