We all experience fear. It’s a primal instinct that accelerates the heart and powers the muscles to propel us out of a dangerous situation.
In the right setting, fear can save your life. But, if you let it, fear can also hold you back. Find out what can happen when you let fear hold too much power over your life. Consider these examples:
Robert worked hard and had an excellent performance record. He knew he was worth more to the company than what his paycheck showed, but every time he considered asking for a raise, Robert’s fear always got the better of him.
Amy’s favorite night of the week is Karaoke night with her husband, but only if she isn’t the one on stage. The problem is, Amy loves to sing but is always too afraid to sing her favorite tunes in front of a crowd.
Jane desperately wanted to go camping with her family, but she was deathly afraid of bears, even though the closest bears were hundreds of miles away.
Fear is the force keeping you in your chair, or outside your boss’s office sweating and afraid to go in and ask for what you deserve. A fearful life is one without risks, but it’s also one without the joy of discovering your true potential and knowing what you are made of.
Fear is that nagging voice inside your head, which says, “No way, José. What if people laugh at you, or you get eaten by a bear, or, heaven forbid, your boss says no.”
Let’s face it, to eradicate fear from your life would be foolish. One day, you may find yourself in real bear country. Fear will be what compels you to run for your life when confronted with a 1500-pound ravenous grizzly. Without fear, you’re just as likely to try and befriend it by feeding it honey, and that won’t turn out well (for you, because the bear gets dinner and dessert).
However, when you’re firmly entrenched in a comfortable urban lifestyle, fear will only serve to keep you mired in mediocrity if you let it. Fear will drown your spirit in images of doom and gloom before you even get started.
Susan Jeffers, Ph. D. psychologist and author of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, says that 99% of what we worry about will never happen, and those are good odds.
Strategies to Help You Dispel the Fear
You will never get rid of fear completely, nor should you. However, you can muffle its voice and reduce its control over your actions. Here are a few strategies which can help you rise above your fear and get stuff done.
1. Relax and take deep breaths. The physical response to fear can feed fear. Take a moment and breathe. As you breathe deeply, focus on a pleasant memory such as enjoying a carefree day on the beach. A few minutes of deep breathing and remembering a time when you were more relaxed can break the cycle and be very grounding.
2. Take small risks. Step out of your comfort zone a little each day. Don’t take such a big leap that you realize your mistake and come running back, but a little step that doesn’t stop your heart. A phone call you’ve been putting off, visiting a new place, or asking for something you want is all it takes. Pretty soon, you’ll be looking back and notice that your comfort zone is a lot bigger than it used to be.
3. One thing at a time. Take each day as it comes and focus on the little things rather than overwhelm yourself with the big picture.
4. Use your imagination. Worry is your imagination conjuring up a negative scenario. Instead of letting it play out, turn it on its head and imagine yourself being the life of the party, or people applauding your karaoke performance as you step off the stage. Whatever it is you are afraid to do, see yourself in your mind’s eye excelling at it.
5. Give yourself a pep talk. Instead of letting your mind run rampant with negative self-talk, take control, and start thinking positive. Words like can’t and shouldn’t have no place in your inner dialogue.
6. Find a role model. A person who has already achieved your goals is a great role model because they prove that what you want to do can be done.
7. Educate yourself. Everybody has something they have always wanted to do – like pottery, riding a horse, or learning how to speak in public. There are courses and lessons available no matter what you want to learn, so go and take one.
8. Get informed. Your fear may be due to lack of information. Find out the facts and gather information to see the situation more clearly and accurately.
9. Discuss your fears with people you trust. Don’t keep your fears all to yourself where they can do the most harm. Sharing them with considerate, understanding listeners will dilute their power.
10. Get help if you need it. If your fear is all-pervasive and regularly paralyzes you, or has you breaking out into a cold sweat, it may be a sign that you are suffering from an anxiety disorder. Seek help from a professional therapist. If your fear isn’t as debilitating but still prevents you from acting, then don’t be ashamed to ask for counseling and guidance.
To read more more about counseling to overcome your fears, click here: Anxiety Treatment