What is it that you are most afraid of and how does that make you feel?
I know that even the thought of facing you fears can leave you feeling unsure, uncomfortable, and full of anxiety. However, I can promise that making the move towards confronting these fears can actually improve the quality of your life tenfold. This week I am offering 4 simple tips for working towards confronting that which you fear the most.
1. Identify What Scares You
In order to overcome your fear, you need to really understand the concept specific to the context of your fear itself
- What is it that you are afraid of?
- How does thinking of this fear make you feel? (Think of the cues your body sends – racing thoughts, shortness of breath, etc)
By accepting the symptoms you feel as an association with your fear, you can begin to narrow down what thoughts specifically trigger this reaction.
2. Learn To Differentiate Rational and Irrational
Fear is a totally useful evolutionary response. Thousands of years ago you would have needed fear to protect you from predators. However, you live in a different world now, and you need to learn to understand which fears are useful and which fears are wasting your energy and comprising your ability to live life as you should.
Your fear to speak in public though quite common and seemingly reasonable, isn’t actually a fear that is directly related to your wellbeing. yeah sure, you fear embarrassment or rejection for doing it but you aren’t going to die from it. Focus on the rationality. Why are you getting so worked up and is that level of discomfort rational? Ask your self these questions.
3. Develop a Plan
You know that the end goal here is to face your fear. So, how are you going to get there? The thought of facing your fear can be scary, overwhelming, and even panic inducing. In order to effectively (and easily) face your fear, you need to break it down into a more manageable approach.
For me, my fear was going into a burning building as part of my firefighter recruit training, and so I broke it down into the following steps:
- Show up at the specified location for training.
- Actively listen to the instruction to figure out what my task was exactly and how to do it safely.
- Make sure to wear all proper PPE, and double check to ensure it is properly sealed/worn correctly.
- Remain calm and focus on breathing throughout the exercise.
I know most of you are likely not training to be fire fighters and that’s okay. These steps are applicable to all sorts of different fears.
For example: If your fear is flying, start by buying a plane ticket, going to the airport, etc. If you’re afraid to try a new hobby, start by researching it online, finding local classes, etc.
By understanding what it will take to over come your fear you can break it down it to much less daunting tasks. You should not have to fear the process of overcoming your fear.
4. Focus on Your Thoughts
Often our fears are based on the worst case scenario. We typically utilize failure, death, rejection, and so on as an excuse to reinforce our fears. What I want to encourage you to do in this case is to focus on taking the negative and flipping it into the best case scenario.
For example: Take “If I start my own business, I will fail and go bankrupt” and change it to “If I start my own business I will become wildly successful”
Your internal dialogue is what controls your reactions. While you obviously can’t control the outcomes of every scenario, you are able to control your perception. So think about what other factors of this situation are in your control. Remember, your mind will quit long before your body ever does.
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I promise you that the internal freedom you feel from facing that of which you are most afraid will enable you to continue to find freedom from other areas in your life. I know personally, that after overcoming my fear of live fire I am now so ready to conquer other things in my career and personal life that I have just been waiting on for so long in my mind – in fear of unknown outcomes.
At the end of the day, fear is a learned construct – fear of judgment or rejection, fear for your safety… It is is your control to unlearn it. Visualize the best case that could be, relax yourself, breathe, and conquer your fears.