I’ve got some good news and some great news for you today. The good news is that when you work to fight through fear in your life you will grow exponentially as a human being. The great news is that I am going to give you a few tips to help you work your way through fear and grow in the ways you deeply desire to.
Every one of us wrestles with fear on a daily basis; it is an intimate part of being human. Did you know there is actually a part of our brain that is dedicated to fear? Fear has kept humans safe for a very long time on this planet (especially when we were in daily danger from wild animals) and I want to encourage you to begin thinking about and interacting with fear on a completely different level. If you utilize the following tips you will begin seeing massive change in your life. I’ve heard it said that change is difficult in the beginning, messy in the middle, and amazing in the end. Make a choice, today, to begin working toward amazing!
Tip #1: Become curious about your fear. One way to practice this is by learning how to become more mindful in general. As you investigate your fear rather than run from it or fight it, you will begin to discover what motivates your fear. Some of these situations in life may not be something that you need to fear. For example, if you were bullied as a kid and fear confrontation your fear came with good reason, but if you are an adult and avoid any potentially confrontational situation it won’t help you grow in your ability to communicate with other adults. There are many situations where two adults will disagree, but it doesn’t mean there will be any blow up where you are physically injured. As you understand yourself you will begin to see that there are some fears that are not getting you what you want in life and others that are legitimate. Most people simply react to their fear instead of exploring it. We often don’t need to react in ways we needed in the past and the only way to learn whether we need to re-assess our fear is to explore rather than ignore it.
Tip #2: Start pushing yourself through the fear that stops you. I try to do something that scares me every day. During the winter months in Canada I take a cold shower every morning. While there are many health benefits to my ice cold showers (sometimes my scalp freezes and I lose some dexterity), the main reason I jump into these showers is because it takes courage to do so each and every time I think about it. Starting my day off with a small accomplishment sets me up for a successful day! I feel great every time I finish the shower and I am changing my brain so that it moves through fear instead of moving away from it. If the shower thing works for you, do it. If something else works better that’s great. Find whatever works for you and start small. If you have a phobia, start not by doing whatever it is that terrifies you…Here’s another example: If you are scared of heights you can begin by imagining you are standing somewhere scary. Next, you can walk to the bottom of a tall tower or building and simply stay there or talk to other people about what it feels like to stand at a great height for you. Then you can try taking one step up a ladder and get used to that or try standing on a small platform. If you continue in this way you will consistently work to overcome your fears. This works with anything from phobias to sales to talking with your boss about improving your work environment.
Tip #3: Pull yourself toward the things you most desire. One way to change how your brain reacts to situations is by attaching different emotions to it. I have a lot of clients who are scared when they think about the things they really want: better relationships with others, more money, doing work that brings them joy and passion every day, reaching more of their potential, etc. If you begin to imagine situations in the future and attach positive emotions to those situations, you will begin to automatically work toward your goals instead of working against them. To explain this I need more time that this post. Basically, your limbic system (emotional brain) cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy. If you imagine a situation enough times, your brain begins to believe it is true.
Tip #4: Make a decision and stick with it! It is a powerful way to reprogram your brain. Make a decision based on what is best for you, regardless of your fears… and then follow through with it. I’ll keep this one short. It is completely accurate that people tend to regret what they didn’t do rather than what they followed through with (especially if it is in your long term best interest). Keep in mind that this works when your decision lines up with your values and morals.
A final encouragement
Know that whenever you are working toward your goals and growing as a human being you are successful. One of my favourite quotes is from Earl Nightingale: “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.” If you are even thinking about fighting fear you are already successful because you are working toward a worthy goal. As long as there is forward progress, no matter how seemingly small it is, you are successful.
Go and make your life amazing!