11 simple ideas to help you face fear
The first thing you need to understand about fear is that everyone is afraid. We all face fear or challenges in our lives at some point. Fear is a basic human emotion that has kept us alive for hundreds of thousands of years. Without a healthy sense of fear, our ancestors would have been eaten by saber-toothed tigers or T-rexes. It is a natural human response and without it we wouldn’t even be here today. Fear is what stops you from taking unnecessary risks and getting yourself into serious trouble.
But while fear has an important role in your life, fear can also keep you small and not achieving the outcomes that you want in life. It can stop you living a full life and following your dreams. But you can face your fears and overcome them. People do so every day. Fear is not in charge, you are! Here are eleven simple ways that you can overcome your fears and start achieving the life and outcomes that you want.
- Know your fears
Firstly before you can start to deal with your fears, you need to know what you’re facing. Take some quiet introspective time to have a good look at the fears that are holding you back. What scares you the most? What worries are keeping you awake at night? What do you think you’ll never be able to achieve?Once you’ve pinned down your fears, you can start to tackle them, one by one, and take away their power. Being consciously aware of what your fears are and recognizing them is the first step in overcoming them. You can then utilize different tactics in order to face them.
- Change your mindset
Mindset is a powerful weapon in dealing with your fears. Negative self-talk feeds self-doubt and eats away at your power to do anything to combat your worries. Luckily the human brain is adaptable, and it is not difficult to reprogram your mindset.Choose to take off the negative blinkers that distort your fears into seeming bigger than they are. You will often be surprised when you still your mind, how often your negative “chatterbox” has a say.
Fortunately when you do choose to start being more conscious of your negative chatter you can start by simply replacing words like ‘can’t,’ ‘impossible’ or ‘never’ with strong positive language like ‘I choose,’ ‘I can,’ and ‘I deserve.’ This might seem hard at first to keep catching yourself using negative words, but with diligent practice each day, you will soon find it will become a habit. Your subconscious mind will do exactly what you tell it to do. So if you are AWARE of your negative self talk you can start reprogramming it by re-framing and using positive words. You will be surprised how effective it is and over time this will work.
- Write it down
Getting your fears on paper can take a lot of the sting out of them. Once they’re out of your head and on the page, they have a lot less energy, and you can start to assess them to see how much reality there actually is in them. Chances are, none of them will actually be true and it will be your negative self-talk and not reality.‘What if I screw up my presentation’ on paper immediately gives you somewhere to start. Ask questions, test your hypothesis. Why do you think that? What evidence is there to support this belief? And your answers will give you clues about how to deal with the fear. If you’re worried about your presentation skills, ask a colleague to help you rehearse. Get some public speaking training. Make sure your slides and handouts are robust and free of mistakes.
‘What if I’m not good enough’ you may tell yourself. Where did that belief actually come from? Did it come from an intelligent well-adjusted person or did it come from someone who does not know you at all? Why should this person’s opinion matter? Are they God? No. Chances are that this negative belief is a way for your subconscious mind to help protect you from making a fool of yourself or failing at something. You hold yourself back because you have a deep secondary gain by not doing it. When you dig deep you will be able to start working out the root thought and belief that made you decide to live small.
- Bite-sized steps
Whether your fear is public speaking, nailing that job interview or skydiving, no one said you have to do it all in one go. You will improve your chances of success if you take your big goal and break it down into bite-sized pieces. Every little success will build a strong foundation of increased self-confidence and decreased fear.Write a list of things you fear or hate doing. If making a difficult phone call or talking with certain people fill you with dread, assign one scary task to do every day of the week. Check off each fear as you go and feel the weight of dread leave your body. That feeling of achievement and pride can become addictive, and you’ll set up a positive feedback loop. Soon the tasks you once dreaded won’t feel so bad after all, and you’ll check them off your list without thinking twice. What your doing is contradicting your fear and now you have evidence that you can indeed do anything you set your mind to. All those bite-sized achievements turn into steppingstones to success and self-confidence. They build on each other and you will expand your comfort zone.
- Outsmart your fear
Sometimes, the best way to disarm what you fear is to outsmart it. Work out what your fear is telling you to do. Maybe it’s highlighting a weakness or a skill you need to develop. Turn it around and use it to your advantage.
Let’s use the public speaking fear as an example to highlight the point.
You can minimize your stage-fright by getting some training in public speaking or interview skills. Make sure your preparation is thorough. Do your research, make notes, write speaking notes and do some dry runs. Rehearse with a friend or colleague.
No one would expect you to parachute out of a plane without proper preparation, tackle your fears in the same way.
- Get support
No one said you have to overcome your fears all by yourself. It’s okay to ask for help.At the very least you need informal support from the people who know you best and who believe in you. Your family and/or friends make the best cheer squad. They’ll be there for you to help you through the tough times and to toast your successes. Tell them what you’re trying to do and get their help.
It’s always a good idea to find a mentor or coach you can trust. Someone you can go to for advice or connect you to the right people.
And if you have trouble with anxiety, get professional help or learn how to meditate. You wouldn’t think twice about getting your car fixed, so why struggle through with fears when there are lots of professional options or self-healing modalities available online.
- Make a plan
Dealing with fears means taking action. And the best way to do that is to have a plan. Treat it as a project and work out your big goals, intermediate goals and milestones, timelines, and resources.
Take the emotion out of your fears, and you’ll be able to tackle them in an objective and business-like way. They’ll stop being so overwhelming and turn out to be just another problem you can solve. You put the power back into your hands and the fear won’t hold power over you.
- Look for inspiration
Everyone is afraid of something. Fear is a normal human emotion, and you can be certain that all the successful people you admire have had to overcome some fear in their life. Many famous actors have overcome crippling stage fright to pursue the career they love. Writers have to deal with the fear of the blank page or the fear of writing the follow-up to their best-seller. You can bet that the first men in space were afraid.Look up people you admire, find podcasts or articles or memoirs or TED talks. Find out what they overcame to be successful. Anything that you want to overcome you can be sure that there will be someone on this earth that has gone before you and has felt the feelings that you feel or has overcome adversity and has managed to achieve any number of outcomes. You are not on your own here.
- Find a technique that works for you
There are all sorts of techniques you can use to overcome your fears. There is not a one size fits all approach to overcoming fears. What works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa. You can keep a journal, meditate, or use visualizations to help identify and neutralize the fears that are holding you back. Some people have little rituals or things that they say to themselves. Others find positive quotes or affirmations can keep them motivated to keep going.There’s a huge plethora of options including but not limited to…apps, books, meditations, relaxing audios, websites and podcasts full of advice on how to overcome fear and anxiety. We are also adding more and more resources to The Gwyneth Montenegro Foundation every week to help you find something that will work for you.
- Get physical
You may not realize that you can be holding fear and stress in your body all the time. If you’re always in fight or flight mode, adrenaline will flood your body. Do a quick body scan to see if you’re holding fear in your body. Is your jaw clenched, are your shoulders hunched, your fists clenched? Are you frowning?There are lots of ways you can relax those muscles and release the tensions you’re holding in. Choose from yoga to tai chi or meditation. Practice conscious breathing. You may not realize that your breathing is shallow, which can lead to increased anxiety because of reduced oxygen levels. Focus on slowing your breathing down, and feel your body relax. Your heart rate will lower, and your blood pressure will go down. You’ll feel a lot calmer straightway.
The other way to help deal with stress and anxiety is to get out and exercise. Whether it’s a brisk walk or an hour in the gym, exercise will help to take your mind off what’s worrying you and reset your mood. I have often personally found that after a good exercise session I feel immensely better.
- Put things in perspective.
Worry has a way of distorting reality, especially at 4 am when you’ve been lying awake fretting. The first thing to do, to shrink your fears back down to a manageable size, is to try and assess how likely your fear will come true. On a scale of one to ten, how likely is it that you’ll go broke, never have food or shelter or never get a job that you like?Fears can act as powerful filters and insight you to your power. They blind you to what you’ve already achieved. If you’re feeling pessimistic about your chances of success, step back for a minute and count up all the successes you already have under your belt. What mountains have you already climbed? What have you already overcome? Think of your successes…both big and small that you have already achieved. All those successes big and small brought you to where you are today. Don’t let fear downgrade that effort and take away from where you already are.