Take a moment and imagine what your life would be like if you had no fear. What would you do if you knew how to overcome fear? It’s not difficult to imagine that overcoming fear would alter your life significantly.
I believe that fear is the single biggest obstacle that holds people back from fulfilling their potential and becoming the best version of themselves.
The question is…where does it come from?
Neuroscientists claim that humans are the most fearful creatures on the planet because of our ability to learn, think, and create fear in our minds. We scare ourselves by imagining the worst possible outcomes, assuming that we are protecting ourselves from imminent danger.
You make the choice to be a victim of your fears or to push them aside and be courageous.
In this article, we’ll look into the root cause of fear and how we can overcome it to realize our potential.
What Is Fear, Really?
This acronym best reflects what fear is:
Fear is an emotion created by your mind based on real or imagined threats. Fear may be completely founded in reality…or not. It may also manifest as anxiety disorders in some cases as anxiety is based on worries about the future.
These imagined scenarios of perceived threat end up feeding your fear to the point where it becomes all-consuming. Here’s the kicker… often, these scenarios never happen.
The real issue is not the fear itself, but rather how we hold it in our minds.
How to Overcome Fear
Overcoming fear may sound easier said than done. When you are in the thick of fear, it’s hard to see a way out. The good news is that, because you are the root cause of your fears, you are also the solution to them. However, none of this will be possible if you aren’t ready to face your fears.
1. Identify Your Fears Through Writing
There are times when I’ve felt afraid, but I didn’t even know why. If you keep your fears inside, you allow your mind to control how you feel. We all know how that turns out!
In order to prevent this confusion from happening in the first place, the first step is to identify what your fears are.
What makes you feel afraid?
Instead of just thinking about these things, write them down. When you write down your fears on paper and actually question them, it forces you to analyze why you are afraid. Questions are designed to trigger your fears and bring them to the surface.
Is this going to be a comfortable process? Absolutely not.
Deep inner work never is! However, if you continue to keep your feelings in the dark, the scarier they will be, and the more disempowered you will become.
Once you identify the type of fear and the experience that you associate with your fears, you become armed with the power to take action to change them. Eventually, your fears become smaller and smaller, and your strength gets bigger and bigger.
2. Practice Gratitude
If you want to learn how to overcome fear, gratitude is key. From personal experience, I have learned that it’s difficult to experience fear and gratitude at the same time. They are literally on opposite ends of the continuum of the human experience.
When you are experiencing difficult times in life, it’s easy to drop into fear. Everything feels overwhelming. In that energetic space, it can be hard to stay grounded.
Developing a gratitude practice allows you to not drown in fear. It doesn’t mean that you won’t still feel it, but the blow will be lessened, thereby allowing you to see the brighter side of struggle (yes, this does exist).
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their physical and mental health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
Anyone who experiences fear knows that there is almost always a story attached to whatever it is that you’re fearful of. Regardless of what that story is, the running theme is, “I can’t do something.” Fear loves to hang out with your inner critic and come up with worst-case scenarios about what could happen.
Gratitude helps keep these limiting stories at bay. When you practice gratitude, your brain shifts to what is currently working instead of what isn’t working.
The act of being fearful is a future-oriented process, while gratitude is a present-oriented one. The next time that fear tries to creep its way into your head, replace that disempowering thought with an empowering one. It sounds easier said than done, but it works.
3. Release Control
Are you a control freak? If so, you’re not alone. This is how a lot of people manage their fears, or so they think. Unfortunately, control has no place on the path to learning how to overcome fear.
In actuality, all that they are doing is masking their fears by trying to control everything. If you can relate, it’s time to release control. Trust me when I say that this is a losing battle.
Fear results in controlling behavior, and when this behavior doesn’t give us the results we’re seeking (which is usually the case), it further intensifies our fears.
In your attempt to control fear, you actually become a victim of it. This fear and control cycle leaves a lot of people feeling defeated. The reality is that there will always be things that are far beyond your control. That’s just how life works.
The only way that we can move past needing to be in control is to accept that it is not always up to us. While you may be in control of your decisions, you don’t always have control over situations that you are pushed into, nor can you control how others react.
The only thing that you have control over is your inner world and how you choose to respond to your external environment. The next time you catch yourself trying to control everything, step back and ask yourself what you are afraid of.
Start to get curious about what thoughts are generating your fear. Curiosity and fear don’t like to co-exist. Once you let go of one, you invite the other in.
True freedom comes from fully releasing control. When you are able to do this, you begin the process of releasing your fears as well.
4. Recite Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations can be used to combat almost any negative thought pattern, which can be very helpful when you want to learn how to overcome fear. Using them to help challenge your fears can help re-train your brain and have your fears reframed as powerful statements.
Research shows that you can actually train your subconscious mind such that it will help you to attract exactly what you desire in life.
Instead of saying “I am afraid of doing this because I might fail,” look in the mirror and say to yourself, “I am prepared for this. I am ready. I will not fail.”
The more you use positive affirmations, the stronger they become. The best way to cancel a negative belief is to develop its positive counterpart.
Commit to making positive affirmations a key component of your morning ritual. It literally takes one thought, repeated over and over again, to set you on the path to transforming your entire life.
Here’re more positive affirmations you should try: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life
5. Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You
Living in your comfort zone will get you nowhere in life, and it certainly won’t help you learn how to overcome fear. In my experience, not doing the things that scare you will only increase the likelihood that your fears will grow and inevitably take over every decision that you make.
I want to encourage you to do one thing every day that scares you. It can be something small. All that matters is that you take action. Make it a habit to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Putting yourself in new and uncomfortable situations triggers a unique part of the brain that releases dopamine, nature’s make-you-happy chemical. Here’s the mind-blower: that unique region of the brain is only activated when you see or experience completely new things.
When you condition yourself to do something every day that scares you, your fear fades away, and your courage grows. Think about it…when you face your fears, how can you fear them again? Soon enough, your confidence will skyrocket.
The next time that you feel threatened by fear, I encourage you to pull upon one or more of the above strategies. Change your relationship with fear. Instead of letting it knock you down, use it as motivation to grow and achieve more.
Once you recognize that fear is not real, the obstacles that appear to stand in your way will be removed, and you will feel empowered to take action.
Your potential in life is limited by only one factor: you. Are you ready to transform fear into action?
More on How to Overcome Fear
Featured photo credit: Jonathan Klok via unsplash.com