Conquering fear is actually a lot easier than you think. We talked a little about this in my review of The 5 Second Rule. I thought I’d go more in depth about it’s causes and how you can best conquer fear.
Why Do We Feel Fear?
Once upon a time, when we had our lizard brains, we used adrenaline to trigger a fight-or-flight response.
As we grew, we built up brains around our lizard brain. But we still have it inside.
Officially it’s called the amygdala.
There are many types of fears. In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill calls out the six common fears that affect us all. They were fear of poverty, criticism, poor health, loss of love, old age, and death.
Other common fears are of rejection, flying, being around other people, heights, closed spaces, the dark, and various creepy crawlies.
But often, we are just trying something new, and our fear holds us back.
The amygdala is trying its hardest to protect us from new situations. If we’ve never done something before, the lizard brain things it’s dangerous and scary, and therefore we shouldn’t do it.
And so we stop ourselves from growing and trying new things that will enhance our life.
Which one is holding you back the most?
And what you need to do is transform that fear into excitement or find ways to avoid the fear before it takes hold. Mel Robbins discussed transforming fear into excitement in her book The 5 Second Rule. It’s tremendously powerful.
Now let’s look at ways of keeping fear from popping up.
Using Feedback to Manage Fear
How many times have you ended up in a situation and thought “Darn, I did it again!” You had promised yourself you wouldn’t make those same decisions, and yet, you’re now where you didn’t want to be.
Maybe you spent money on something when you were trying to save. Maybe you got into a disagreement with someone you swore you would just be neutral with.
This tactic will help you tremendously with internal fear.
If you have an avoidance fear, like avoiding flying, then you’ll need a different tactic. I’ll go more into that next.
First, when you find yourself in the situation, please just forgive yourself right away. Then spend some time journaling what happened and how you got there.
What triggered your brain to turn off?
Again, the lizard brain kept you on the path that you were trying to stay away from because it was the “safe” path.
So once you know some common triggers, you can come up with a plan for how to respond differently. Make sure you practice
Once you tune your conscious brain to the signals, you’ll be able to start catching yourself sooner. And since you’ve thought through all the possibilities, you will have the courage
Using Desensitization to Overcome Avoidance Fears
If you’re afraid of something like a social setting or spiders, and you go to crazy lengths to avoid it, then using cognitive behavioral therapy is for you.
It uses a simple strategy of getting more and more comfortable around your fear as a way of reprogramming your brain.
So if you were afraid of public speaking, you could join the organization Toastmasters. They’re a professional organization designed to help people learn to speak in front of other people.
The first meeting is free so you can decide if it’s for you.
They use desensitization as well. They have you stand up in front of everyone and introduce yourself. Then the audience applauds and you sit down.
The next time, you may speak for a minute about any topic. And you then build up how long you talk. Later on, you receive constructive feedback so you can refine your presentation skills.
But by then, you’re having fun.
Yes, I said it. You can actually have fun speaking in front of people.
Simple Strategies to Conquer Fear
Writing out your fears is a great way to help you identify what your real fear is.
Sometimes what we think is our fear is just masking our true fears.
For example, you may think you have a fear of failure, but you’re really suffering from fear of success. You may think that you will have to continue to put in a lot of effort in order to keep succeeding.
Then once you can identify the fear, you can retrain your brain using meditation.
Another way to journal is to write down what the worst thing that can happen is and then take it to the most absurd level possible. You can go really in detail here.
Well, it helps you realize how ridiculous your lizard brain can be. And it can help you laugh.
For example, your worst fear may be that you do a poor job in a presentation. And then the sky falls in, and the electricity fails. I know it sounds crazy, but trust me.
Finally, you can identify your fear, the real worst case scenario, and the come up with an action plan. How would you fix the situation if you stumbled over a few words in your presentation and so it wasn’t as polished as you’d hoped for?
Learn to Embrace Failure
If you think about failure and mistakes as just learning experiences, then failure doesn’t seem so bad, does it?
We’ve all heard that Thomas A. Edison, the great inventor, tried over 5000 compounds when inventing the filament of an electric light bulb. He never let the failures stop him.
In fact, he’s often quoted as saying that he never considered it a failure. He found 5000 ways to not make a light bulb.
You can also tap into that feeling and use it as motivation to get better.
We were put on this earth to grow and to learn. Part of that is making mistakes so we learn how not to do things as well. As Tony Robbins has said, “Dance with the fear!”
Progress, Not Perfection
How often do we beat ourselves up because we weren’t successful at something right away? We need to set more realistic expectations of ourselves.
If you need to lose weight, focus on a small amount at a time. When you attain that goal, then you can create your next one. You will gain a lot of momentum by successfully achieving smaller goals.
Plus, the other great part of tracking progress is that you can make adjustments as you go along.
World class athletes know that the key to success is by visualization. They spend as much time training their brain as they do their body.
They can see every second of the race and how their body will be responding.
You can harness this as well. Spend some time seeing yourself facing your fears and attaining success.
My Final Thoughts
The best way to conquer your fears is by understanding what drives them. Then you can come up with strategies to help you better cope when you’re in a tight situation.
If your fear runs really deep and you’re not finding progress with meditation, journaling and visualization, then you can look into counseling as the problem may be something else. There’s nothing wrong with having a coach or a guide to help you through a tough patch.
And finally, be gentle with yourself as you’re working through your fears. You’re battling millions of years of habits that originally were intended to keep us safe. So you’ll have to trick your brain into thinking that your new habit is the safe way.
Make sure you celebrate the little successes along the way to help you build up your momentum.
What fears have you faced and feel great about now?