(Yes, that’s me. Middle school wasn’t my best look ever. But, hey, all things are possible with a No Fear t-shirt)
I just rediscovered this list that I wrote for a friend a while back.
I was asking her for ideas on new articles/something to write about, and she asked if I could come up with a list of tips for overcoming fears. So in a very short order, voila. I came up with these 10 (and I added one after).
I thought I’d share it with everyone because I know that all of us grapple with fear, and by sharing these 10 tips maybe some of you will find some solace within.
I think my friend asked me to write about fear, because my friends would probably say that I am someone who doesn’t show fear as much as others. In reality, I think it’s just that I understand and recognize fear more than most people, and when I feel it, I choose to do something proactive about it. I guess it’s more of a point of emphasis for me to not allow it to dictate my actions (so much as I can reasonably control) because I understand the negative affects of fear, and how useless being afraid can be sometimes. Of course, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and life is about as ‘controllable’ as a hooker on meth, so take this and all things with a grain of salt.
10 Tips For Overcoming Fear
- Fear is a reaction. Visualize and practice reacting differently.
- Focus on examples of people not being afraid of the very things you are afraid of. Instead of focusing on your fear of those things, focus on their reactions to them and try and mimic them. If they can be brave so can you.
- Jump! Probably not something someone with fear would think to do, but before you get wrapped up in your fear, and the thought of all it’s going to do to you and the bazillion unlikely scenarios that aren’t going to unfold, just fucking jump! Do whatever it is you’re afraid of doing as soon as you start to be afraid of it. Do it while your mind is still trying to talk you out of it. Manual override that motherfucker! If you wait to rationalize or process it all it’ll be too late.
- Fear often comes from the unknown. Instead of being unsure and afraid about something, change your perspective to one that is curious and hungry to know what will happen about something. Change your mindset to one that values knowledge over assumptions; one that wants clarity not questions. That way you can move forward with confidence, not trepidation.
- Fear is generally a learned behavior. We have a natural disposition to protect ourselves from certain things that are unknown, but the ‘From what?’ part of that is not necessarily an inherent disposition but one that is generally learned through our experiences and observations. Most of the fears we have are, as a result, irrational. Because we use such a small sample size of experiences to base our fears from, and because we take one person’s word for what we should be afraid of instead of finding out for ourselves, our fears are usually just misinformed conceptions. So learn to make different experiences for yourself by keeping an open mind to everything, and don’t take someone else’s word for anything, always find out for yourself. What’s the point in life other than to experience it?
- Fear can be paralyzing and can consume you. Sometimes it’s all about winning that first battle instead of focusing on the war. Next time your fear overcomes you, just do something, anything, that you normally wouldn’t do.
- Just Be. Chances are right now you are perfectly safe, and nothing is going to harm you. “You’re really not that important.” as I like to say, and most of the world doesn’t think about trying to hurt you on a daily basis. In fact, numerous studies have shown that we base the majority of our fears and worries on things that will never actually materialize. So either choose to live your life in ‘fear theory’ or in reality.
- Strength comes from a simple principle of overload and progression. In weight lifting terms, that means that in order to get stronger you need to continually add more resistance to your routine over time. Likewise, if you want to be strong and squash your fears, you need to realize that a similar strength can be gained by addressing your fears over time. The more you push through, the stronger you will become and the less power your fears will have over you. Start with tackling some of your little fears in order to build up strength to overcoming the bigger ones.
- There is strength in numbers. Lean on others to help shoulder the burden and to overcome your fears. Going at it alone is like trying to throw a ball with one finger; it’s a hell of a lot easier and prettier if you use all the ones at your disposal. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Make two lists (preferably on a large white board or chaulkboard for visualization). In one list, right down what fear has done for you. In the other list, write down what fear is preventing you from doing. Evaluate those two lists knowing that you are the only one who has to live with the circumstances of them. Now, armed with this information about what the fear in your life is doing to you, ask yourself if are you prepared to go on living with that. If not, maybe you should reconsider how impractical these tips sound.
- Safety is important, but our concerns with safety often impeded our ability to progress. If you don’t do things outside of your comfort zone; if you don’t test yourself; if there isn’t anything challenging you; how will you ever know what you are really capable of? Make fear your bitch and be limitless.
Fear not, my friends.