Conquering fear doesn’t happen instantly or automatically. It is the result of deliberate intention, and conscious action towards doing things that scares you. As a result of overcoming your fears, you grow as a person, and expand the possibilities that surround your life.
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. “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear” – Nelson Mandela
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. . “When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
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. Every time we face a fear we gain the three important qualities that Eleanor Roosevelt has mentioned in her quote: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt
4) Have faith.
When dealing with fear, it always helps to have faith that a higher power is watching over us. The most threatening fearful thought we experience is not one of inadequacy, but one that confirms the extent of our true spiritual power. We must free ourselves from our own fears in order to demonstrate love to others by helping them get free of their fears. “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter” – Francis Chan
5) Practice Meditation.
Meditation changes the state of our mind’s affair by increasing the stability and strength of our attention. By meditating we can direct our attention away from fear and focus on the cycle of our breathing or the reassuring stability of the body at rest to help us connect with our own inner stillness and silence. These moments of peace and stillness are one way in which meditation can help us to overcome fear. We can eventually learn to intensify this ability to concentrate our minds so that during our meditation practice all of our attention is filled with the breath, or the mantra, or the prayer. This type of complete meditative absorption is deeply peaceful. In the moment of full absorption there is no room for the experience of fear. “As gold purified in a furnace loses its impurities and achieves its own true nature, the mind gets rid of the impurities of the attributes of delusion, attachment and purity through meditation and attains Reality” – Adi Shankara