Have you ever not eaten a new food because you were afraid that it might taste bad?
Have you ever not gone out with a new group of people even if you wanted to?
Have you ever not delivered a presentation even though you knew it would bring amazing benefits to you?
Fear stops us from experiencing and living life to the fullest. We feel fear when we feel a negative outcome may arise out of a situation. As a result, we often try and avoid the situation completely to prevent the potential harm.
This is completely normal. In fact, fear is a core human mechanism which gave us the fight-or-flight instinct which helped us survive as a race.
However, in modern times, fear is often restricting as it attempts to protect us from emotional danger. This is the fear that our emotional state or feelings may be negatively impacted by a situation. Unfortunately, this creates huge mental barriers to go out and do what you truly desire like meeting new people, making new friends, moving city or going out and speaking to an audience.
Recently, I have been taking steps to really understand and embrace fear. These are the three steps that aided me significantly:
1Embrace the fear
Trying to lock the fear away will not work.
Fear is a core part of our emotional state. It is what makes us who we are. Trying to hide part of yourself from yourself is only going to lead to more internal complexities occurring.
Just like with your insecurities, you have to embrace them; opening up and accepting yourself for who you are is key to improving yourself and overcoming your fears.
2Tackle the fear bit by bit
I have found that being overwhelmed often does more harm than good.
When you get chucked in the deep end, you often develop a negative connotation with the feeling. As a result, it may damage your progress to embracing and overcoming your fears.
Instead, I suggest you start small.
If you are scared of public speaking, do not just got out and present to 1000 people. Start by speaking to yourself in the mirror.
After that, express yourself more openly to friends and family. Let them judge and criticize you. Embrace the feeling and realize that the feeling is manageable.
You can then use this as a stepping stone to slowly get a little bit out of your comfort zone each time. Slow, steady and consistent progression is better than trying to do too much too fast and pushing yourself further away from your goal as a result.
3Appreciate the positives
Fear develops when you fear the negative events of a situation occurring. On the other hand, excitement is when you are looking forward to the positive outcomes from a situation.
We actually elicit a very similar physical response when we feel fear or excitement. It is the net positive or negative interpretation of the outcomes that may occur which ultimately determine if we are going to be fearful or excited.
In order to make this transition from fear to excitement, try and visualize all the good things that could happen from facing the fear such as meeting amazing people, going to incredible places, or having mesmerizing experiences. Do you really want the fear of your emotional state being affected a little stop you from benefiting from all these positives?
Using the break-it-down method from step 2 will also help you appreciate these positives. When you tackle very small components of the fear, the potential negative impact will be minimized whilst still experiencing the positives. Slowly, you will develop a positive connection to the experience and will look forward to experiencing it more. You will start to value the potential benefits of the situation over the negatives, and as a result, the fear will turn into more of an exciting opportunity.
These 3 steps really helped me make significant advances in helping myself overcome my fear. If you implement these I am sure it will help you too.