Fear is something that exists only in our thoughts. Despite this fact, it feels very real and can paralyze us into not not living our best life or realizing our dreams. While some fears can be tangible such as fear of spiders or fear of the dark, most are born out of our own inadequacies: fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection. Sometimes it feels safest to just avoid whatever it is that we are afraid of so that we don’t get hurt. However, avoidance only deepens that fearful illusion and allows it to gain a tighter grip on us. On the other hand, confronting our fears can be immensely powerful. In conquering them, we realize our own power and greatness. We gain a sense of being able to accomplish anything. Here is some advice to get you on the road to busting through your own fears.
- shine a spotlight on your fear
- dig a little deeper
- ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen?”
- visualize yourself working through this fear
- take specific action in facing the fear
- psyche yourself out
- forget to celebrate, even the small milestones
- beat yourself up if old behavior patterns arise
- forget to ask for help and get friends and family on board
- let this fear run your life
The only way to drive out darkness is to bring it to the light. This means admitting the fear to yourself in order to come to grips with it. What is it that are you afraid of? Say it out loud. Talk to other people about it. We’ve all experienced many different fears throughout our lives, so there is nothing for you to be ashamed of. Just getting it out into the open can bring on a sense of relief and begin the healing process.
Why do you believe you have this fear? Do you recognize any catalyst to when it began? Perhaps you’ve had a bad relationship and now fear getting your heart broken again. Or, perhaps you felt embarrassment after poorly delivering a presentation and developed a fear of public speaking. Try scratching the surface and uncovering the cause behind your fear. While we might not always be able to pinpoint an exact cause it does help to try to gain a better understanding of the “why” behind your fear.
If fear of speaking is your phobia (which just so happens to be one of the most common ones) – ask yourself this: Are you going to get up on that stage and fall over and literally die? Not very likely! So, what is the worst that can actually happen? Maybe you forget a couple worlds or stutter over a couple sentences. Is the world going to end because of it? No. Is it worth getting so worked up over? No. Sometimes it is helpful to call out just how silly our fears are. While they do feel very real and intense in the moment, our life is most likely not actually in danger – not even close. This means there is hope!
Imagine what it looks like, feels like, smells like, tastes like, sounds like to move past this fear. Really dig deep into your imagination and conjure up some vivid imagery around this scene, using all of your senses. Athletes commonly use this visualization technique to improve their performance. The same can be applied to your situation to help you move past your fear and anxiety.
The only way you can get past your fear is to face it head on and prove to yourself that you can do it! Even if a it’s just a baby step, take a step into that direction. Dip your toes into the water until you are ready to dive deeply into facing the fear head on. To use the fear of public speaking again as an example, perhaps you can gather up a small group of 5-10 family members to speak in front of. Then, try a larger crowd. Soon, you might find yourself loving public speaking. Yes, it is possible to completely turn a fear around.
Any other thoughts that come up are just your mind playing tricks on you. The human mind loves status quo and will likely try to hold you in old behavior and thought patterns. Use positive thoughts and affirmations to break through: “I can do this.” “This fear does not hold the power over me.”
Any steps you are taking in conquering your fears are cause for celebration. Make sure to give yourself proper recognition for any progress you make. When you hit certain milestones, treat yourself to a little reward. You deserve it.
Sometimes, in making forward progress, some backwards steps occur as well. It happens. Old habits die hard. Don’t let this defeat you! Instead, pick yourself up and get back on track.
Having a support team that knows what you are striving for will help you keep wind in your sails when you need it the most. So, make sure to keep your loved ones in the loop and call on them when you need a little extra support.
Remember, you are the boss and you are running the show of your life. You don’t have to live in fear. At the end of the day, it always your choice. Proper mindset combined with action and perseverance will have you putting your fear to rest in no time.
Fear is something that we all live with in some form or fashion. And, despite how real and scary it can feel, it is actually just an illusion we create in our own minds. The good news is we can work on overcoming the darkness of our fears by bringing them to light and taking action to understanding and overcoming them. Joseph Campbell’s famous quote is, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasures that you seek.” Remember, as you bravely dare to enter the cave of your own fears, that great reward awaits you on the other side.