Tips for Conquering Your Fears

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by an irrational fear – so much so that it prevented you from doing something you wanted to do? Believe it or not, this is a common problem faced by many people daily.

Fear has the power to hold you back from taking risks, following your dreams, or becoming successful at anything you attempt to do. If you allow it to control you for long enough, it can eventually erode your quality of life and keep you locked in a prison of inactivity and regret.

What many people fail to realize is that fear is nothing more than a conditioned response. It’s a natural reaction to any situation that is perceived as threatening.  Although not easy, there are things you can do on a regular basis to overcome irrational fear. Review the tips below and make the decision to begin putting them into practice today.

1)  Check your expectations

One major contributor of fear is the prevalence of negative expectations. Do you usually find yourself expecting the worst in every situation? Do you worry about what could go wrong, rather than focusing on your strengths, capabilities, and potential positive outcomes?

If you make a conscious effort to expect the best, see the positive side of each situation and keep reminding yourself that you can handle more than you think, you’ll find your fears and anxieties diminishing. Even if feelings of fear do manage to creep into your consciousness, you’ll still be able to keep them in perspective and balance them against an underlying sense of confidence and courage.

2)  Dispute your fears

You will often hear that the majority of things you fear will never come to pass. While this may be true, it sure doesn’t feel that way when fear has a choke-hold on you! However, if you look more closely at the thoughts the underlying your fears when they arise, you may be able to effectively dispute many of them.

For example, if you have a fear of public speaking and your boss wants you to give a presentation at work, you might feel like your life (and perhaps your livelihood) is on the line. You may fear getting fired, or worry that your colleagues will lose respect for you if you don’t do a good job.

But is any of this likely to happen? In most cases, no. Rather than worrying about what “might” happen if you don’t give a solid presentation, you might brainstorm ways to help improve your performance, such as being well prepared, practicing your delivery on friends and family members, writing notes to yourself and so on. This exercise will often diminish fear-based thoughts and replace them with thoughts reflective of genuine confidence.

3)  Do the very thing you fear

When you remember that fear is simply a feeling, it loses much of its power. It can’t harm you and, except in truly threatening situations, you can choose to ignore it and move forward with courageous action.

If you weigh the pros and cons in any situation, you may decide that the possibility of negative consequences is minimal so there’s nothing to stop you from taking the focus off of your fear and going for it! You will determine each situation on a case by case basis, of course.

The point isn’t to become reckless or fearless with your decision-making but rather to empower yourself to know when a fear is a product of irrational thoughts.

In many cases, as you consider the “worst case” scenario, the “worst” thing that’s likely to happen is embarrassment or disappointment, neither of which is fatal.  And both can spur you to learn from your mistakes, which turns them into a positive growing experience.

Remember, in many instances, FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real!

Live, Work & Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

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