How to Conquer Fear – Watch Your Buts
If you look at the word “conquer”, you will realize that the presence of fear is an indication of war between what you think you should do and what you think you should not. In the past, fear was the guard posted in our mind to protect us, but now it has taken over. Sometimes, we must conquer our fear just to be able to move.
Usually, the mind has a self talk battle inside and it sounds like this:
- I want to express how I feel, but I’m afraid they won’t listen
- I want to apply for this job, but I’m afraid of being rejected
- I want to be healthy/wealthy, but I’m afraid it will be too hard
- I want to cook my kids something new, but I’m afraid they won’t like it
- I want to see my parents, but I’m afraid my husband won’t like it
- I want to have a bath, but I’m afraid I’ll run out of time
- I want to invest in a new lawn mower, but I’m afraid it’s too expensive
- I want to be a singer, but I’m afraid no one will like my voice
- I want to excel at work, but I’m afraid I’ll have to come home late and the kids will be in bed already
As you can see from all these examples, they have a formula:
I want to <do something>,
but I’m afraid <of some negative outcome>
This formula is an anchor. It is a guarantee for us to keep the fear and stay stuck in one place.
What do you think will happen if you change the order?
I want to <do something>.
I think <there might be some negative outcome>,
but <this is why I’m going to do it anyway>
Fear is a thought. If you say “I’m afraid”, you put a barrier between your desire and achieving it, but when you say “I think”, you simply state that the outcome may not be to your liking.
- I want to express how I feel. I think they won’t listen, but my feelings are very important.
- I want to apply for this job. I think of being rejected, but I have to try.
- I want to be healthy/wealthy. I think it will be too hard, but it’s too important to give it up.
- I want to cook my kids something new. I think they won’t like it, but it’s good to expose them to new things.
- I want to see my parents. I think my husband won’t like it, but I can simply go without him.
- I want to have a bath. I think I’ll run out of time, but at least I’ll be relaxed and able to enjoy myself later.
- I want to invest in a new lawn mower. I think it’s too expensive, but it will save my time and the lawn will look better.
- I want to be a singer. I think no one will like my voice, but if I don’t do it, I’ll never forgive myself.
- I want to excel at work. I think I’ll have to come home late and the kids will be in bed already, but I know they will understand and be proud of their mom and I can alternate with my husband.
Can you see the difference between the two? One “makes a big deal” of the situation, while the other is a statement of an option. The first “but” will get you stuck, while the second “but” will give you more options to investigate the priority/importance and to stretch your creativity.
How to overcome fear
Here are 6 tips to handle fear:
- When you think you are afraid, focus on what you want. Remind yourself what will be the most wonderful outcome of going forward despite the fear. Focusing on the positive outcome of your actions is what makes people motivated.
- Imagine the worst possible outcome. What will happy if they do not listen? What will happen if you are rejected? What is the worst thing this will actually cause you? I say to myself, “Will it kill me?” Defining the worst case scenario is a good technique to realize that the “fear of the wolf is always greater than the wolf itself”.
- Most people feel that if something happened in the past, it will keep happening. Your fear started at some point in your life, yet you have kept it alive through many changes. Find differences between that first time and now. For example, “I didn’t parent my first child very well, so I’m afraid I’m not a good parent” can be changed to “I didn’t parent my first child very well, but now I’m a different person, because I have experienced parenting already and learned a lot”. The brain will try to find similarities to prevent you from pain, but it is your responsibility to break the connections and remind yourself that every day, with every new experience, you are learning and changing and next time will always, always be different.
- Think of alternatives. Many times, fear is the inability to see other options. Always ask yourself if you have another option. Sometimes, when it seems you have exhausted all your options, remind yourself, “I’m sure there is a way and I haven’t found it yet!” Keep seeking and you will find!
- Find inspiration. If you are afraid of doing something, find people who have been in the same position and talk to them. Ask them how they have overcome their fear and this will help you overcome your fears. Keep reminding yourself, “They’ve done it without any advice, so I’m in a better position and I can do it too”.
- Sometimes fear is just overwhelm – things seem too hard, too long, too confronting or too complicated. To ease your overwhelm, chunk down the problem into manageable tasks. “Eat” it bite after bite to allow you to digest. Say, “What can I do today to move forward? What can I do that it is easy? What is in my control that I can do right now?”
- Writing down sometimes helps people get better perspective. Write your fears on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket or wallet and look at it later. Often, just letting your fear go and coming back to it later can change how you perceive it.
- Use positive affirmations. All you need is some statements or quotes that will encourage you to conquer your fear. Here are a few that may help. Print them, put them on your fridge, carry them in your diary and share them with your friends.
If you are afraid of saying what you think about what is important to you, use this quote:
If you are afraid of not having time use this statement:
If you are afraid of what others may think about you, use this one:
Fears were warning signs in the past, but now they are our enemy. People live in so much fear that it becomes part of their identity – a debilitating ability.
If you want to be free of fears, remember your only war is an internal one, going on within you.
To victory and freedom,