Have you ever failed to do something, or failed to do it to the best of your ability because of fear? Unless you are some kind of superhuman, the answer is probably a definite yes. Whether it is fear of failure, embarassment, pain, or even success, fear can stop us dead in our tracks, preventing us from living our dreams.
Whenever we face some challenges in our lives, whether imagined or not, we have a choice to make: go on or give up. As the two popular acronyms tell us, FEAR can lead you to A) Forget Everything And Run or B) Face Everything And Rise. While this may sound cliche, it is true that your ability to face your fears and do it anyways will make or break you.
Whether it is running a marathon, giving a big speech, or telling someone you love them, life can sometimes be scary. It is only natural to be a little nervous and feel your hands getting sweaty and your heart beating faster right before an important event. In small doses, it is even beneficial because it prepares you for a peak performance by making you alert and focused. However, if you feel like you are controlled by your fears and can´t stop shaking at the thought of what´s going to come, it is time to learn how to control your nerves and face your fears!
Here are 6 tips to eliminate fears from your life!
The only way to truly face your fears is by first resolving to take absolute control for your life and everything in it! Your fears don´t control you, you let them control you. As long as you play the victim and make excuses, nothing will change.
The only way to overcome any challenge in your life is by owning it – by deciding that you, and only you are in charge of solving it. You can´t always control the events in your life, but you can always control how you respond to it. By taking responsibility for your fears, you also gain the ability to face them.
Think about this: What is the surest way to become afraid of something? Probably by avoiding something until you have the time to picture all the negative things that could happen a hundred times. By delaying your actions because of fear, you actually increase it. You lose self-respect and trust in your own abilities and start to doubt yourself. At the same time, your fear grows stronger and bigger because you have more time to think about it and doubt your capabilities.
The only way to finally get rid of your fear in such a situation is by taking responsibility for your life and deciding to face it no matter how frightening it may seem. Otherwise, you´ll keep running from it for the rest of your life!
2Action Destroys Fear
While inaction feeds your fears, taking action will cure them. Do you remember the first time you jumped from the 10-foot diving tower? Chances are, you experienced fear at its finest: Sweaty hands, 150 heart beats per minute, nausea, and just pure nerves! You knew intellectually that you wouldn´t die but were still convinced that you wouldn´t survive this giant jump. You climbed up the ladder, stared into the deep blue of the water and finally, encouraged by all your friends or family, leaped down!
Chances are, that was also the last time you were afraid to jump from that tower. The next two or three times might have been uncomfortable for you but nothing compared to the first time. And once you jumped down that tower some more times, it just became fun, and you completely forgot about your fears!
The same principle holds true for facing any other fear. The more often you do, and the sooner you start to take action, the easier it will be to overcome it! Whenever you become aware of your fears, face them immediately. Don´t wait for tomorrow or next year to step up, but deal with it today!
3The Disaster Report
I learned this technique from Brian Tracy, and have since found it a great way to put things into perspective. Sometimes, you can eliminate your fear simply by realizing how irrational it actually is.
Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen, realistically?” Find the worst possible consequence and decide to accept it. Usually, it doesn´t happen anyways. And even if it does, it won´t kill you.
How many times have you seen that someone was laughed at while giving a presentation? Probably never. But still, we often fear being embarassed like this terribly. Oftentimes, stress comes from denial – telling yourself that nothing bad could ever happen when in fact you know that you are lying to yourself. Accept the worst possible outcome and then make plans to prevent it from happening.
When you are afraid of something, what happens to your body? Your breathing becomes more shallow, your muscles tense up, and you stand smaller looking to the ground. You can literally see the fear in your face.
Now, the quickest way to destroy your fears is this: A change in your physiology. In 2010, Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School Psychologist famous for her Ted Talk on Power Posing, conducted a study that revealed how the way we stand actually determines how we feel. By standing upright in an “open and expansive” posture, we can change our hormonal levels in a positive way.
In her experiment, high-power posers experienced elevated levels of testosterone, lower levels of cortisol, and increased feelings of power and confidence. Simply by changing the way you stand, you can change how you feel.
Another great exercise to control your physical fear response is to focus on your breathing. When under stress, it is common to breath more shallow or hyperventilate, allowing less oxygen to enter your body. This increases anxiety and fear, therefore hurting your ability to think clearly.
Once you become aware of this pattern, you can actively combat it by focusing on your breath. Breath in slowly through your nose and feel the fresh air flowing into your belly, hold your breath for a moment and then exhale slowly through your mouth. You will find that this pattern of breathing allows you to eliminate the fear response and helps you relax instead!
5Act as if
This strategy, also known as “fake it till you make it”, is often seen as negative, despite its positive effects. There is no shame in acknowledging that you are not perfect, but sometimes, acting as if you are already who and what you want to be can change the way you think and act, leading to better results.
Whether you are facing an important presentation or an argument with your boss, act like you are completely confident in yourself and your abilities. Act like you know your presentation will be amazing, stand and speak like you know what you are talking about, even if you don´t feel very confident in the moment. But by acting confident, you will start to think and act more like the person you want to be.
This strategy is not only useful when facing your fears, but also at any other point in you life. When you are starting out in your career, why not act like you are one of the top people working in your industry? Why not dress like them, think like them, and act like them? Why not read the books the most successful people read, listen to the same audiotapes, and act every day as if you are already successful? Pretty soon, you won´t have to act anymore.
6Visualize Your Success
As a competitive distance runner, I have used this technique for years now. Before you face any important events in your life, succeed in your mind first. Close your eyes and see yourself crushing your fears, overcoming obstacles, and doing the things you are afraid of. See yourself succeeding at everything you do, no limits!
Also, make sure to use as many sensory details as possible. “See” yourself standing in front of a huge audience, “feel” your heart pumping from excitement over your great performance, and “hear” yourself giving an amazing speech and receiving a grand applause. Succeed in your mind first, and then go out and destroy your fears forever!