Fear is as common as the flu, and as crippling as death. Everyone feels fear. Whether you’re an extreme motocross athlete, base jumper or computer technician, there are no exceptions. Just like stress, anxiety and anger, fear is an emotion, that if left unchecked can cause debilitating side effects.
If fear is so common, and so harmful, how can we expect to live a happy and successful life, let alone reach our potential? The answer lies not in the elimination of fear itself, but in our ability to deal with it.
Here are my top tips for overcoming your fears!
1. Define Your Why
What motivates you to do what you do? Is it your families health and happiness? Financial freedom? A desire to live a fulfilling life? By defining the reason and inspiration behind why you want to do something, you can determine what you’re prepared to do to achieve it. If you want something bad enough, fear will be an obstacle you are prepared to face and overcome to get it.
Tip: Give specific thought to what motivates and excites you. What are you passionate about? This is your calling. Fear becomes irrelevant when you’re going after something you really want.
2. Transfer The Emotion Of Fear Into Confidence
The best way to overcome fear, is to face it head on. If, for example, you have a fear of heights, do something where you have to overcome that fear. Skydive or bungie jump. Even jump off a tall diving board at the swimming pool. By doing exactly what it is that you’re afraid of, you will soon realize that the worst-case-scenario that your mind has created is extremely unlikely to come to fruition, and you will be able to overcome your fear. This creates confidence, and with confidence you can overcome the same or similar fears in the future.
Tip: Build up your tolerance for fear. Try doing one thing every day that scares you.
3. You Might Fail And You Need To Accept It
One of the most common fears that people face, is the fear of failure. Have you ever been too scared to speak up because you were afraid that people wouldn’t like what you had to say? Or too afraid to try something new because you thought you wouldn’t be good at it?
Due to our unhealthy desire for perfection, and our perception of failure, fear of failure is all too common. An effective strategy for breaking the stranglehold your fear has on you, is to accept failure as a possibility. Realize that you might lose. Accept it. Failure is merely an opportunity to learn and grow. Changing our perception of fear can greatly increase our ability to deal with it.
Tip: The next time you’re afraid to do something, say to yourself “I accept the possibility of failing. I will try my hardest, but if I fail, I will not be defeated.”
4. Don’t Forget To Breathe
Imagine yourself about to make a public presentation to your colleagues at work. Fear starts to set in. Your heart rate increases, your breathing speeds up and you might even begin to sweat. A simple, yet powerful technique for bringing yourself back to a calmer mental and physical state, is to take several long, deep breathes. Controlling your breathing can have a powerful effect on the negative physiological responses induced by fear, and help return you to a more relaxed state.
Tip: When you feel the effects of fear settling in, take 5 long, deep breathes. Try taking 4 seconds to inhale, hold for 2 seconds, and take 4 seconds to exhale.
5. Accept Fear As Normal
Imagine yourself about to attend a meeting with a really important potential client. You’re horrified about having to deal with such a high profile company, and what happens if you fail? You tell yourself to ignore the horrible sensations that your fear has induced, but it only gets worse. The ironic thing with fear is, the more we try and push it away, the stronger it gets. It’s just how it is. The next time you’re involved in a scary situation, accept that everyone feels fear, and that its presence isn’t anything to be concerned about. Accept it. Let it do its thing. By choosing not to push against your fear, you are reducing its power over you, and it will likely fade.
Tip: The next time you’re afraid, first accept the presence of fear, and then say to yourself “Come on fear, do your worst! I am not afraid of you!”. Fear only gains power when we try and fight against it, so when you’re able to acknowledge and accept your fear, and by challenging it to get stronger, you will be amazed at how its effects will subside and fade away.
In life we can either allow our fears to cripple us, or we can overcome them and develop an unshakable confidence, on our way to becoming unstoppable. The choice is yours!
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