Monday, June 13, 2011

Conquering My Fears

Most people wouldn't know this about me, but I have social anxiety. Panic attacks included. When I think about it, it seems completely irrational to me. I am a teacher, after all. I have zero, zip, zilch fear of giving speeches, being in front of a classroom or talking to people...when they approach me. Ask the guy at Safeway where the Cheerios are? Piercing my ears with a dull needle would be less painful. Make a phone call to pretty much anyone? I'll take the root canal, please. Walk into a store and ask them if they would be interested in selling my products? Kill me now.

It's the last one that has me writing this post today. I love what I do and I know the products I create are wonderful, but...I. Can't. Sell. And if you are going to own a retail store, be able to promote the business, and have any hope of it being successful, you just have to be able to go out and make the sale. So what's a fear and anxiety riddled girl to do?

Make a little, sell a little, take small steps. 
3M Corporation Creed 

1. Focus on all the things I can do, rather than dwell on the things I can't do. I made a list. You know what? There are lots of things I can do and things that I am really good at. Now, how am I going to use those qualities to my advantage? I made a list for that too!

2. Remove the word CAN'T from my vocabulary. This one is easier said than done. When I feel that paralyzing fear take over my entire body it really does feel like I physically can't do something. But the word is so limiting - when you say it, you are telling yourself, "Nope, not even going to try."  And I really do want to be able to do it. So it isn't that I can't, but that it is just really hard for me. 
3. Say it loud, say it proud! Part of the fear is admitting I have the fear. So I am telling everyone. Friends, especially. I have received so much encouragement and offers to help, it is truly amazing. Which brings me to part B: accept said offers of help! Yes, please. 
4. Do one thing each day in facing my fear - no matter how small. In a meeting last week, I was sitting next to a local business person I want to talk to about selling my products. I proceeded to have a conversation with my head. At that moment, it was enough and the next moment, it will be more.
5. Start with the people that I know will not say no. This is the first cousin to 3 and 4, but I thought it deserved its own number - because as obvious as this one sounds, it is still one I get hung up on. Face it, when a friend rejects your business idea it is both a personal rejection and a business rejection, right?? Wrong! First of all, some of them have already offered to help, their yes is already in the bag. Secondly, will we still be friends, even if they say no? Of course we will! 
6. Take advantage of all the opportunities that happen inside my comfort zone. I can talk to you for days about my products - as long as you initiate the conversation, or walk into my store, or check out my booth at the market. This is my comfort zone, but I still miss thousands of opportunities to ask for the sale.  
This goal also includes bringing up my business in casual conversation. Yesterday, at the grocery store, I ran into another mom I know. We started talking about coupons and summer vacation. She has a daughter that is the perfect age to enjoy the Soap Bar, so I suggested she bring her in with some friends this summer and I handed her my business card. She hadn't even heard of Soapendipity, but agreed that her daughter would love it. How many of these opportunities do I miss out on every day? Tons! And it really wasn't that hard.
Why am I sharing all of this with you?

"The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen."
Lee Iacocca 

That, and it goes along with #3 very nicely, don't you think?  As I am writing this, it does occur to me that it probably won't be one of my most read posts. I mean, it is long, there are no pictures, it is long, it is pretty much all about me, and it is long. But, in the off chance you have made it this far, I would love it if you would share with me what you have done to overcome your fears.



  1. I bet this will be one of your most read posts! It's open and honest and frank without being woe is me. And at the end of the day even if we don't all have panic attacks we do all have fear of putting ourselves out there to face possible rejection. I totally connect and I love your baby steps approach! Tfs (ps I came here fro SITS)

  2. Hi Melissa,
    I am sooo happy that you have joined the 31 Day Challenge, I know you will get a lot out of it! One of the reasons that I really enjoy leading the challenge is that I love  meeting so many cool ladies with so many wonderful stories and businesses. I LOVE your site, your name and your soaps are adorable, maybe we can do some type of giveaway during the challenge with your soaps? I wanted to let you know I have had major anxiety and suffer from panic attacks... It is a real issue that sometimes I know people just don't understand but this post is raw and real and i believe that is what people like to read as much as look at pretty pictures so bravo!
    waving, your hostess!
    Shelley :)

  3. Wow! :O Back then with the doctor I had actually laughed when my mother and I told him I suffer from nervousness (I get panic attacks too). "Sure, just cause he doesn't have it!" is what we used to say, but now I'm surprised to learn that more and more people have it too. Finally doctors are realizing it. Took them long enough, pfft! (Sorry for my little rant there.)

    Anyway, the way I get through is mostly from God's help and my  family's help and my mother's moral support. If you want to sell, go for it! No one has the right to laugh at you. You have a product you think is good and if they don't like it, oh well, next person. People have many tastes and you will run into one with similar taste that will buy your products. :D Don't give up! If it doesn't happen yet, don't feel down. There might be a reason why you didn't sell it there. What's good for you will show up eventually. Just let God lead you there. You will know, you will feel it is the one.

    I hope that made sense. Still a little sleepy, lol! :)

  4. This such a brave and beautiful post!  Thank you for sharing.  I particularly love #1 on your list - focus on what you can do - that's they key isn't it. (coming to you via Sits)

  5. Anne-Marie FaiolaJune 8, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    Go Melissa!  I am SO on board with the 'writing it down' philosophy.  Accountability groups are super important when setting goals, even if you're taking baby steps.  Tell people about the steps that you're making and the goals that you have and that way it will be harder to go back on your word =)  I can't wait to hear about your journey and GOOD LUCK!

  6. I would love to do a giveaway for the group! Thanks for thinking of me and thanks for all your kind words. I am enjoying the 31 day process so far and am learning lots.


  7. You are too kind, thank you! I am so glad you came by, Natalie.

  8. Thank you! It really is baby steps, but I feel so much better having wrote the post. I am glad to hear that I am not the only one.

  9. It is so easy to dwell on the negative, but we all have something great to offer. I am getting better! Baby steps! Thanks for coming by, Allison.

  10. Kelly Ann TaylorJune 8, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    Isn't that funny; I don't perceive you like that at all, as I imagine you would not perceive me that way either.  The power of online is that it's so easy to really just talk this way!

    I recently had that last Saturday when I went to a wedding alone.    I really had to push through my feelings of just wanting to go back home and slink out without attending the reception.   

    But victory in one small step at a time is totally doable!~ 


  11. You got it, baby steps. That's the way. :D

    Aw, I'm glad too. If you need anything let us know. I have your blog bookmarked. :D

  12. Thanks for the words of encouragement! You know, I saw you at Otion one day about a year ago and I couldn't even say hi! How sad is that? 

  13. Yes, that would have been me too! The internet is so great for someone like me, I just wish I could be making more money at it!!

  14. I have to say that I am the most socially awkward person I know.  I can definitely relate to everything that you said about your social anxiety.  Isn't it funny that I used to teach too?  I have no problem talking to or in front of kids at all.   

    Those are some great suggestions. I think another good reason to share something like this is putting it out there will reach others (like me!) who are in the same boat.  Being introverted makes a person difficult to approach (so I've been told), so sharing your fears with others is a great way to break that social barrier.  Thank you for writing such a wonderful post.  :)


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