Have you ever felt overwhelmed by fear – so much so that it prevented you from doing something you wanted to do? Believe it or not, this is a common problem faced by many people daily.
Fear has the power to hold you back from taking risks, following your dreams, or becoming successful at anything you attempt to do. If you allow it to control you for long enough, it can eventually erode your quality of life and keep you locked in a prison of inactivity.
What many people fail to realize is that fear is nothing more than a conditioned response. It’s a natural reaction to a frightening or unfamiliar situation. While it is usually automatic, there are things you can do to overcome it.
1) Check your expectations.
One major contributor of fear is the prevalence of negative expectations. Do you usually find yourself expecting the worst in every situation? Do you worry obsessively about what could go wrong, rather than focusing on your strengths and capabilities?
If you make a conscious effort to expect the best, see the positive side of each situation and keep reminding yourself that you can handle more than you often think, you’ll find yourself with much less fear to deal with. Even if feelings of fear do manage to creep into your consciousness, you’ll still be able to keep them in perspective and balance them against an underlying sense of confidence.
2) Discredit your fears.
Experts will tell you that the majority of things you fear will never come to pass anyway. While this may be true, it sure doesn’t feel that way when fear has a chokehold on you! However, if you look a little more closely at your fears when they arise, you may be able to dismiss at least a few.
For example, if you have a fear of public speaking and your boss wants you to give a presentation at work, you might feel like your life (and perhaps your livelihood) is on the line. You may fear getting fired, or worry that your colleagues will lose respect for you if you don’t do a good job.
But is any of this likely to happen? In most cases, no. Rather than worrying about what “might” happen if you don’t give a solid presentation, you might brainstorm ways to help improve your performance, such as being well prepared, practicing your delivery on friends and family members, writing notes to yourself and so on.
3) Do the very thing you fear.
When you remember that fear is simply a feeling, it loses much of its power. It can’t harm you and except in truly threatening situations you can choose to ignore it and move forward anyway.
If you weigh the pros and cons in any situation, you may decide that the possibility of negative consequences is minimal so there’s nothing to stop you from ignoring your fear and going for it! This will be determined by you on a case by case basis, of course. The point isn’t to become reckless with your decision-making but rather to empower yourself to know when a fear is groundless and easily overcome.
Most fears are not real, but are perceived and are driven by our beliefs and resulting emotions. Do yourself a favor and challenge your thinking. Don’t assume your emotions have analyzed all the facts and have come up with a rational conclusion. Assume that your emotions have no intelligence of their own and that they are reacting to something they “perceive” as threatening and not something necessarily based on reality.
Don’t underestimate your ability to press through your fears. Take one small step in the direction of freedom and then another and another. Be proactive and determined to uncover the truth of the matter and avoid buying into some assumed, perceived reaction based on your erroneous beliefs and emotions.