It’s not those without fear who are brave, but rather those with fear who conquer it. The truth is that most of us fear something, whether it’s speaking to a crush, public speaking, heights or spiders.
Sometimes, the fear we experience is a phobia—a great big monster of a fear—sometimes it’s just an inability to act normal under certain circumstance due to fear. We know we aren’t truly living our potential when fear gets in the way.
Why Conquer Fears?
It’s been said that our dreams lie outside our comfort zones and that’s probably true. After all, did you ever hear of someone who faced no obstacles in reaching their dream life? Most people have to face the mythological dragon to reach the mythological princess.
Likewise, if you fear something, you don’t go close to it. If you are scared of the ocean, chances are you won’t be looking for a job in a surfing business, but maybe that’s where your biggest opportunity will come from. Maybe your dream apartment is in a high-rise building, but as you fear heights you’d never even think to look for an apartment in a high-rise building. If we don’t open ourselves to things we fear, we miss opportunities.
That’s fairly speculative since I can’t guarantee that your biggest opportunities lie in places you currently avoid due to fear. However, imagine walking in to talk to your boss or your employees without fear. Imagine feeling 100% comfortable whether you are on a first date, in the bedroom or the boardroom, and imagine getting rid of any phobia you may have, so you never again have to waste time worrying or thinking unpleasant thoughts. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
I thought so. So, let’s move on to see how you can deal with fears.
Trick No. 1: Face the Fear
When we find something uncomfortable, one of our first defense mechanisms is to dodge the discomfort. We don’t want to think about it. We try to shut it out of our life.
If we get uncomfortably nervous before a date (which is due to fears about what the date will think of us, how we will be able to handle the situation, etc.), we might very well tell ourselves just to get a grip and simply try to ignore the feeling. We energetically apply more make-up or focus on something else. Then, when we get there, we do everything we can to cover up the fear and end up talking at fifty miles an hour or saying nothing at all. We might put on airs or withdraw into ourselves. Or, we cancel the date to avoid dealing with it altogether if it gets too bad.
The problem with suppressed emotions is that they don’t go away, and if we try to cover them up, we often trip ourselves up. After all, a date might not want us talking non-stop or sit there looking haughtily at them as we try to cover up our fear. What we truly want is to make a good impression, but instead we are so busy trying to hide our fear that we end up making a bad impression.
The first step in eliminating fears is to face them. It’s what I call “hanging with the tension”. You sit with the discomfort. You look it straight in the eye, instead of trying to avoid it, or covering it up so others can’t see it. You basically have a date with your fear.
Instead of launching ourselves into a conversation, drinking more wine or trying to look sophisticated when we feel a twinge of fear on a date, rather stop. Take a deep breath. Feel into the fear. And feel it dissipate.
What often happens when you are neither trying to fight something (you need to hold onto it to fight it, nor suppress it or cover it up, is that it simply dissipates.
So, when you put on those hiking boots to go on a hike up a mountain, fearing the climb, stop. Take a moment to breathe, and really feel that fear.
Trick No. 2: What’s the worst that could happen?
As part of facing your fear, imagine the worst possible scenario (usually that you die), then come to terms with it. Once you’ve faced that, the fear no longer has any hold on you.
After all, if you have come to turns with the fact that your date might tell you that you are as boring as can be and stand up in the middle of the date to leave you, and you are still feeling OK in yourself… well, then there’s nothing left to fear. You know you still like yourself even if your date doesn’t. You also know you will be OK finding someone who does like you. So your date has no power over you, because you are in control of your emotions.
In a sense, it’s about determining that you will feel good no matter what happens. It’s a bit harder if you fear you might die, but if you overcome that fear, you live a truly free life. It’s why the Buddhists actually meditate on death and prepare themselves to die – it sets them free to truly life.
Sounds paradoxical, but works a charm.
Trick No. 3: Put an End to Irrational Fear
Most fears are irrational. Illogical even.
Some people fear being mugged in dark alleys. Whenever they see a dark alley, they freeze up. They may even spend time having nightmares about dark alleys, robbing themselves of peaceful sleep.
I don’t know where these people live, but if there are low crime rates in their city, then the likelihood of being robbed in a dark alley is low. If they choose never to walk alone at night, then the chances are even lower. And, if they want to eliminate the possibility altogether, they can avoid walking in dark alleys.
Some people are scared of flying, but it’s the safest transport in the world. Other people fear that others won’t like them if they aren’t always perfect, but no one is perfect!
Have a look at your fears. Are they logical?
Have you ever been in love only to fall out of love and then in love with someone else? Life, in general, is similar to that.
If you have a lot of fear about a job interview, a test in school or a presentation you’re doing for potential investors, ask yourself if there could be other solutions should this not work? Could you find another job? Would you die if you had to re-do the course or even the year? Is there another investor out there or even crowdfunding possibilities?
Some things have to fall through for others to fall into place. You may have a manic fear of losing your job, but maybe losing it would lead to the best job for you.
What we think is the end usually isn’t. Not even if it’s about something really big.
All of us will lose things in life, whether we fear it or not. Rather than try to hold onto things, live in the moment. Appreciate what is there. If you have to find a new job or re-do a year in school, you can choose to turn it into a blessing. By thinking that way, the fear of losing a job or failing a test will no longer have any power over you.