Fear can be a very crippling emotion. Because of fear, many persons do not embrace and experience the joys and that life have to offer. Fear often causes us to miss out on opportunities for growth and development as well as opportunities to make a difference in the world. Fear gets to the best of us, whether it is fear of failure, fear of success or even fear of fear. All of us have experienced fear at some point in our lives and it can be a real stumbling block that holds us back from being truly successful.
Fear can’t hold you back forever if you don’t let it. There are several ways to overcome fear, here are my top 9:
1. SEPARATE REALITY FROM PERCEPTION
One well known acronym for fear is that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Ask yourself what is really going on, locate the facts and place them over your feelings.
2. IDENTIFY THE TRIGGER
Often when I find myself fearing a particular situation or upcoming experience, I ask myself the questions, what is really going on here? What am I most afraid of? What is the worst that can happen to me if this thing or that thing was to happen? I find that once I answer those questions and realize that I can actually survive the worst thing that can possibly happen as a result of a particular experience, I realize that I am much calmer and better prepared to face the event head on.
Figure out what it is in a situation that triggers you. Learning to identify it will help you learn to combat it.
3. KNOW WHERE FEAR LIVES IN YOUR BODY
A lot of times, fear takes over physically. It affects different people different ways. Identify if/how it affects your physical body and do the work to take care of your body. Ex: if you hold stress in your back, you can learn stretches, foam rolling, etc. to avoid the pain.
4. PRACTICE GRATITUDE
Gratefulness is a very powerful state of being. Gratefulness helps you to focus on what is the good in each situation and embrace those aspects of the experience. Gratefulness helps us to realize that a particular situation might not be as bad as it seems.
Every day, list 1-3 things you are thankful for. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is, gratitude helps shift the mind into a positive light, which overtime, overcomes fear.
5. LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE
A whole lot of our fear stems from the things we say to ourselves and the negative thoughts we harbor in our minds. This is one major reason why practicing the use of daily affirmations is very important. It shifts our focus to deliberately having positive thoughts and conversations with ourselves daily which has the powerful potential to attract positive results.
Monitor your inner conversations. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself. Speak positively to yourself and remind yourself of your strengths.
6. CREATE A NEW ASSOCIATION
Often, we are fearful of a situation because of the negative associations we have of it. For example, being mocked and scoffed at by our classmates when giving a presentation in class may cause us to associate public speaking with insecurity, nervousness, shame and fear of being made a fool of, so we avoid it altogether even if we have something positive, helpful and uplifting to say.
Remind yourself that the feeling and the moment will pass. Focus on the positive outcome of the situation, rather than the scary in-between.
7. LOOK AT THE GLASS HALF FULL
Perception is a very powerful thing, and how you feel about your situation dictates how you respond. So, think positively and you’ll give yourself a much better chance of success. This won’t happen overnight; practice with just one thought. What is one recurring negative/fearful thought you have? Work on reversing this one thought. Overtime, this will become a habit.
8. PRACTICE BREATHING EXERCISES
Breathing helps center your body; when you stop breathing, your heart stops beating. You can do a grounding exercise, or even just take 5 deep, long breaths at any point to calm and center yourself. It is best to start your day with this, but feel free to practice all day long.
9. CREATE A SAFE SPACE
When you feel safe and secure, there is no room for fear. Find somewhere safe you can retreat to when ill feelings begin- whether this is a real place such as your bedroom, or a place in your mind such as the beach. This sense of comfort will soothe you and allow you to face your fear.
Please keep in mind, these are just 9 strategies, not everything works for everyone. But this is a place to start. According to Eleanor Roosevelt, a way to combat fear is to “Do one thing every day that scares you.” So start implementing these techniques into your life and don’t let fear hold you back from reaching your goals and your highest potential.
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