Do you find that you get nervous, anxious or become frozen with fear at the prospect of a particular situation or circumstance? It’s completely normal and shouldn’t be seen as being weak. Here are my tips to help come overcome fears.
1. Prepare and practice
Firstly if something really stresses you out or you can’t face the prospect of doing it, you really should seek to work towards that event. For example, if public speaking is one of your fears and you’re in a job where it is common – the best thing you can do is prepare and practice until you’re proficient at speaking and it’s no longer a concern. Practice makes perfect as they say, but you don’t have to be perfect. You just need to get into a position where you can tell someone in a years time “that i used to really shit my pants giving presentations but now its second nature to me”.
You want to devote as much of your energy as possible to preparation. According to Thrillist.com, SEALs rid fear from their minds by practicing an upcoming mission until they feel naturally confident about it—until that unknown becomes, well, a little more known. They don’t lie to themselves about the risks, they simply put themselves in the best position to handle them, which inspires confidence.
Meditation has a range of benefits, including stabilizing breathing and centering your mind. Someone who practices meditation daily will also have tremendous mind control over their emotions so they are agnostic to external factors. This includes stressful situations that induce fear.
One way to overcoming your anxiety and fears is to imagine yourself 15mins after the successful completion of an event or situation you fear.
The power in this technique is visualizing things ending in a successful way. Things may still not turn out the way you wanted, but you will increase the likelihood of success by doing this type of visualization.
This may sound odd, BUT it works for me. Exercise right before you undertake that task or do the thing that frightens the life out of you. You’ll find that the natural high you get from endorphins after exercising works wonders.
Have you notice how elated and confident you feel after a vigorous workout? Well use that to your advantage. I tend to be not just productive and alert, but much braver after a workout session. It allows me to confidently give presentations, have that difficult conversation and take the steps that were previously holding me back from achieving a goal.
When you exercise, whether that’s weight lifting or cardiovascular you are essentially challenging yourself to overcome an obstacle you have set yourself. And when you conquer it in that session, you feel that you can overcome anything the day throws at you. Schedule that workout class in!
4. Become aware of the fear
Note that the fear we feel when facing a circumstance, event or thing, is not because of what is in front of our eyes at that moment – but because of the internal dialogue we have with ourselves. Essentially, your thoughts are the root cause of your fear and anxiety.
Fear makes you put things off. “I’m really tired. I have other stuff to do. It’s a dumb idea anyway.” These excuses probably sound familiar, don’t they? You’ve probably said this out loud and to yourself. Think about it. Is there any truth to these statements, or are you constructing excuses to avoid potential failure? It’s much easier and less painful to make excuses than it is to put in the long hours and energy it will take to work toward your goal, but excuses and opting out will ultimately leave you feeling unfulfilled.
Recognize when you are using excuses and figure out how to overcome them.
Too tired? Adjust your schedule so you can get a better night’s sleep.
Not enough time? Assess your priorities and find out where you can make time.
And the next time an excuse comes to you, make the decision to not give in to that little voice.
5. Count to 5
Alot of the time we use excuses when we’re in a fear state to avoid carrying out the task or activity. If you’re in a situation where you want to do something but feel uncomfortable, start counting to 5. At the very moment you start counting, start performing the action. Essentially you want to commit and execute the action before you get to 5. That way you’re not overthinking it and backing off.
For example, in the run up to a public speech if you’re ultra nervous, just breath and count to five and start walking towards the stage knowing that you are going to do the speech no matter what.
In another setting, if there is a girl you like – don’t think about it, just start counting to five and start walking towards her with the intention to talk to her. The rest will sort itself out. You want to have taken the action by the time you get to 5. What you are doing is overcoming your fear by taking action. Check out the book Feel the Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers which includes dynamic techniques like this to help people face their fears head on.
6. Know the benefit of overcoming a fear
The human spirit requires growth – mental, spiritual and physical growth. In order to achieve growth you need to put yourself in situations you find uncomfortable. This may be in front of a camera, public stage, having an honest and firm conversation, etc.
But when you’re afraid, you tend to stay in one place. What if you make a mistake and fail? You start to believe you can’t progress at all, that you’re incapable of it – the fear holds us back. Change the message you tell yourself. It’s not about achieving something and being perfect every step of the way. No one is ever perfect all the time, so stop striving for that. You have to be comfortable that you don’t know everything and you can’t do everything – and that’s perfectly OK. But you continue anyway – and this is the foundation of a growth mindset.
If you continue on a growth mindset and look back at your achievements over the last 6 months or year, you will notice how far you’ve come along. All because you overcame some long-held fears. And that is progress for sure so give yourself credit.
7. Failure is the best teacher
People worry that they will fail miserably if they attempt the steps to accomplish their goals. But like pain, failure can teach us alot about ourselves. In fact, failure is often a better teacher than success. Once you accept from the onset that failure is an inevitable part of success, you’ll be less afraid of it. Anyway, failure means you tripped up in your journey – it doesn’t mean you’ve quit. You just have to carry on because that trip-up can provide you with valuable learning experiences that will positively impact your future strategies.
The best thinkers, philosophers, business people and sports-people encountered failure on their path to their success. Its what helped them to learn, grow and try an alternate tactic or strategy. The quicker you realize your fear of failure is preventing you from making the decision to accomplish your dreams, the sooner you’ll be able to accept the possibility of failing and move on.
Having fears and feeling anxious is normal. You’re not designed to be fearless, so don’t worry. Feeling fear is healthy and our systems need fear in order to drive forward. But the more time and energy you spend thinking about a fear, the more you manifest it into your life. Try thinking on all the good stuff you want to attract into your life, and it will come.
Know your limitations but also know that nothing can stop you from getting to where you need to go.