We all have a fear of certain things in our life. That’s normal because fear is one of our basic emotions. However, it is normal in a certain amount. Living your life in fear of many things to the point that it limits you to enjoy your life or improve your life might be unhealthy. That’s why it is essential to know how to overcome your fears. You must grow the confidence to overcome any fear that holds you back.
What is Fear?
Before getting into the good stuff of overcoming fear, first, let’s look at what fear is. According to the oxford dictionary, fear is ‘an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.’ So initially, fear is an essential and natural emotion that helps to keep you safe from harmful things or situations. It is part of our survival mechanism.
Fear can induce the fight or flight response, a physical reaction to act on the sight of danger. It helps you to fight the threat or flight from it. So it is crucial in our safety and survival.
However, fear can also have an unhealthy presence in our lives. That’s when the fear remains even if you’re not in danger. Or when the emotion of fear comes up when you are just thinking of something you are afraid of, without it being harmful to you. These are the type of fears we need to overcome.
Different Types of Fear
It’s also important to know that you have different kinds of fear. There is situational fear and psychological fear.
Situational fear is when you are faced with an immediate threat, something that is happening at that moment. A person is trying to kidnap you, or a fire, for example. This is when your fear is actually protecting you from harm.
Psychological fear is when you are afraid of something that might happen. This fear is something you may have developed as a result of a traumatic experience or believes that you have had for a long time, for example. In this case, the emotion fear is real, but the threat is not present at the moment, or the situation may not even be a threat.
It’s important to know this difference because we are working on overcoming your psychological fears when we look at ways to overcome your fears. The ones that prevent you from taking action, the ones that keep you from building the confidence to do something.
Steps to Overcome Fear
1 Identify Your Fears
The first thing to do whenever you want to work on something is to identify it. Calling it by its’ name and admit it is something you want to change. And the same goes for the process of overcoming your fears.
Sit down and think about which specific things cause the emotion fear to come up. What thoughts stir up that feeling in you. It might be something you think of daily or only think of when you need to do something. But, on the other hand, it might be something you have always feared or something that only just started to bring that emotion up in you.
Then try to figure out why it is that those thoughts bring up this emotion. If it is because of a traumatic feeling or something you have believed your whole life, even if it never happened. Is it something you have been telling yourself, a belief system you have developed?
Write down everything that comes to mind. The more you have to work with, the better. If it is hard to answer these questions the first time, leave it be, do something relaxing, and try again.
Knowing your fears and where they come from is the first step to start when overcoming them.
2 Use Your Imagination in a Positive Way
Psychological fear is something that is in your mind, so a great way to start to overcome your fears is by using your mind, your imagination.
Try imagining the situation that brings up fear in you. Then, imagine all the things in that situation that can cause you to feel nervous or frightened. If these ideas start bringing up these emotions, reflect on why you feel afraid and what makes you feel that way. Then, ask yourself what would need to be different, not to feel scared anymore.
Finally, start imagining not being afraid, not feeling anxious but feeling calm, and handling the situation in a relaxed way. Think about how you would like to feel instead of being scared, and keep playing off the scenario in your mind until it feels less frightening.
By exposing your mind to a pleasant form of this situation, you are training it to feel good and content instead of fear in these situations. Thus, you are reprogramming your mind from feeling afraid to feeling calm when this situation presents itself.
This exercise might not work after one time, maybe even not after the second. Still, it is crucial to keep working on it, keep trying, and exercise until you see and feel progress.
3 Face Your Fears
Once you feel a bit more confident, a great way to overcome your fears is by actually facing them. You can’t change something without actually facing it and exposing yourself to it.
And I get that just the thought of facing your fears might be causing a whole new cycle of a fear reaction, so to help you in that progress, you could try to take baby steps. Try to break up the situation that induces fear in small steps.
For example, if you’re afraid of public speaking, break it up into speaking to one person through text or a phone call, then in person. After that, two people, then talking to four people but in a zoom meeting, then a group of 6 in real life, and so on. Or maybe you’re afraid of seeking a job. Start by looking for job opportunities, then write a resume, then send it out to one vacancy and then two, and so on. Important is that when you are working on one step, that you focus on that step only. Don’t think about all the other things that need to be done after this.
No matter what your fear is, try breaking it up into smaller steps and place them in order of the level of fear they bring up in you. You know best which activity or action feels worse. And then start with the step that feels the least terrifying.
By challenging yourself little by little, you build confidence each time you overcome one challenge, each time you do one thing you felt afraid of doing. And since the steps are small, it takes a little less than it would if you would try it all at once. Then, finally, you can build enough confidence to overcome your fears entirely.
This exercise might also take time, and maybe you’ll have to do one step multiple times before you are finally able to complete it, but good things take time.
4 Do Not Give Up
As I said, good things take time. And conquering your fears is not something that happens overnight. It takes time and patience. It takes the will to grow. But, as long as you’re determined and willing, you can overcome your fears.
Keep your goal in mind, and do not give up. Even when you have setbacks, even when it feels like you need to try over and over again, just remember to not give up. Keep your head high, and keep trying.
5 Replace Your Fears
A great way to conquer your fears is by replacing them. There are two things you can replace your fears with. Facts and trust.
When you are afraid of something or fear starts to creep up about something that is really just in your mind, you can line up the facts to reassure yourself that that fear is unnecessary. Make it clear to yourself that all is well and that the facts show the opposite of that what you are afraid of.
Replacing your fear with trust is sometimes the only thing you can do in certain situations. You cannot control everything, and sometimes not knowing something or not having control over something can bring up fear. In that case, just trusting that you are safe and all will be okay is all that you can do.
I read a quote once that said: Safety is not the absence of danger, but the presence of God. This quote helps me many times whenever I start to be afraid of things I cannot control.
6 Get Help
When it feels that no matter how hard you try, you still need a push, a nudge, guidance, it might be a good idea to seek help from a professional.
Sometimes we just need the hand of someone to guide us through a process, someone who is trained and skilled to help us grow the confidence to overcome our fears. A coach or psychologist can help you identify things that lay much deeper than you even realized, can help you move past obstacles that are hard to move past on your own. They can help you see things in a different light.
Getting help is never a wrong move. Instead, it is a bold move and a form of self-care and self-love, so if you feel like you have done everything you can. But, you still would like to get some more help, it might be a sign that it’s time to seek that help from a professional.
And that’s a wrap on how to overcome your fears. Overcoming your fears takes confidence that you can overcome your fear and patience to do so. Like any good thing in life, it takes time. Be patient with yourself and give yourself time to grow, to develop the confidence and the courage to overcome your fears. I hope these steps can help you in this noble journey you’re on.