“Train your mind to be stronger than your feelings.”
Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Fear is useful to avoid and escape dangerous circumstances. However, many people live in a state of fear that only exists in the mind. Avoiding fear maintains and magnifies it. To subdue your fear, you can focus on the psychological principle of “exposure.” According to experts, exposure is by far the most potent medicine known to psychology. It is responsible, directly or indirectly, for the most positive improvement achieved in therapy and especially the treatment of fears and anxiety. Exposure entails facing your fears, which makes it aversive in the short-term. However, many worthy long-term goals entail short-term discomfort to achieve long-term success. Fear, if you choose to face it, will soon begin to subside as you develop a habit to consistently address it.
You can apply 4 steps to face and overcome fears by working to answer the following questions. The answers to these questions will help you to overcome fears of all shapes and sizes. It’s up to you to do the work.
Have I Identified the real fear? Why are you afraid? What is the root issue of the fear? Perhaps you have a fear of public speaking. Think deeper. Is your fear actually speaking in public, or is it the negative criticism of others that scares you? Ensure you are addressing the root issue of your fear.
How can I change perspective on the fear? You have a choice to determine your attitude and point of view. If you constantly focus your thoughts on the negative aspects of the fear, it is likely to grow larger and stronger. What is the worst-case scenario of your fear? Is this fear really dangerous, and is it really a threat? Is this fear something you will remember in 1 week, 1 year, or 10 years from now? Perhaps, look at the fear as an opportunity. How can this fear improve yourself? Referring back to the example of public speaking, if you are afraid of negative criticism, ask yourself if it’s likely people even remember your speech next week if you perform poorly? Or even better, tell yourself repeatedly that you are excited to deliver an insightful speech that people will love and learn from hearing. Replace weak thoughts with strong thoughts.
How can I plan to overcome the fear? What actions can you take to address the issue? How can you prepare? Who can you ask for help? Confidence is grown from preparation and repetition. Calling back to the speaking example, If you are prepared, self-assured, and practiced to speak publicly, you will possess the ability and confidence to master your fear. A great plan is like a great road map. It’s hard to get lost on a clear straight road.
How can I face the fear? The greatest proponent of overcoming fear is to face it head on. Once you’ve identified your fear, changed your perspective on the fear, and planned how to overcome your fear, you are ready to face you fear. Continuing with the public speaking example, consider how to act bold and courageous. You can volunteer to speak publicly in a group gathering or find a special engagement that will provide you the ability to speak to a group. Regardless of the circumstances, to overcome fear you must face it.
Many fears disappear as soon as you face them. For even complicated circumstances, continue to identify the fear, change your perspective, plan to overcome, and continue to face the challenge.
On a psychological level, confronting your fear instead of backing down brings about a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. Every time you confront your fear, you gain power while your anxiety loses strength. Each time you confront your fear you accumulate evidence of your ability to cope.
What fear will you face?
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