Fear is like a cancer, it begins in the mind, seeps into our bloodstream, pumps out to our muscles, weakens our lungs, amputates our will, impales our courage, and desolates our chances at achieving success.
Have you ever worked with someone you were highly attracted to? You pass them in the hallway and blushingly smile at them. You gaze at them through the corner of your eyes, and even visualize being out on a date with them. You have had countless opportunities to speak to that person, and get to know them, but that nagging voice in the back of your head holds you back. “What if they are seeing someone? What if they don’t like me? What if it makes things weird? What if I mess it up? What if ____?”
I’ve been guilty of this before. It’s never an easy thing to face your fears and shoot for the stars.
Fear of of Rejection, Failure, Discomfort, Pain, and even Fear of Success, prevents us from even attempting the things that would bring us joy or happiness.
In most cases, the fear of the pain it may bring, is more powerful than the thoughts of success.
We unconsciously process the downsides to situations, with hundreds of “what ifs” channeling through our minds, quickly gauging the amount of pain, or suffering the situation could bring, and then unconsciously snapping back into our comfort zone. Erasing the idea from thought, and moving on, in our perceived bubble/safe zone.
The Surprising part of it all, is that 95% of the things we fear, aren’t justifiably real.
Most of the “What ifs?” are over exaggerated instances based on past experiences or fictional outcomes.
Not to worry though, before you are finished reading this post, you will know how to identify these fears, and you will be armed with the ammunition to confront and overcome them!
Let’s take a quick step back and learn a little about fear, and then we can talk about a few techniques to help overcome them.
We are actually only born with 2 fears. Fear of Loud Noises and Fair of Falling. These are build into your DNA, and are passed down through generations as a survival mechanism. Their purpose is to keep us alive, by alerting us to potential dangers, and motivating us to avoid them.
This means, all the other fears were acquired at some point in our lives. An event in our life or someone else’s life has associated pain or danger to what ever it is we fear. So now we are strongly motivated to avoid these things, and the emotions they bring.
Just like anything else you have learned along the way, these things can be unlearned or overwritten, once you become aware that they aren’t justifiably real.
There are three main types of fear. Internal, External, and subconscious.
External Fears are the most easily recognized. They are caused by something outside of us, that we are strongly motivated to avoid. Some of these can be categorized as Phobias. For example: fear of flying, spiders, small spaces etc are all external fears. And most of the time these are a result of a negative experience in the past. These fears are often valid because it helps to protect ourselves from harm. In these cases the possibility of perceived harm or imminent danger, originates from something “outside” of us.
Internal Fears are usually things triggered by external factors, however internal fears are not specific to any circumstance, and are due to internal emotions. This can make these fears difficult to recognize.
Internal fears manifest as fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, lack of self worth and doubt. These fears usually prevents us from even trying, because we think it will just bring more pain or suffering if we have a negative outcome.
Subconscious Fears are similar to internal fears, except subconscious fears are believed to be a part of who we really are. Subconscious fears develop into limiting beliefs.
Limiting beliefs filter how we see the world. An example of a limiting belief would be the thought of not being intelligent enough to amount to anything great, because you didn’t finish high school. Limiting beliefs usually try to convince you that you’re not good enough to do something.
Because they are beliefs, they are hard to recognize and eliminate. Sometimes what we think is true about our self, is just an irrational belief.
If you have read my previous post “Mind Control : The prologue to success” you might have guessed that the key to overcoming fear lies within our subconscious programming.
As is, our reaction to the things we fear is automatic. We don’t stop and think, “geee there is a king cobra slithering towards me, should I stay or run? (unless you have been trained/programmed to deal with snakes) ” No we just react, at least I know I would!
This reaction is our Fight or Flight survival mechanism. And until we can reprogram this subconscious reaction, we will never be able to overcome the things we fear.
This is never an easy process, and may take repeated exposure to the things we fear. After we have confronted the fear a few times without suffering the harm or pain we expected, we will become desensitized to the thing we once feared.
Many of the things we fear are caused by ignorance. We are afraid of the unknown. When our brain gets a few pieces of the puzzle, it automatically fills in rest based on our conditioning.
for example. “You were caught red ___, trying to butter her __. What’s the matter, cat got your ___?” Your brain fills in the gaps so it can understand the whole sentence. Same principle applies when we don’t have all the information. We begin to worry about something, our brain fills in the gaps, and before you know it, we imagine things that may not happen, or even have the possibility of happening.
So the first step of overcoming any fear is going to be Identifying exactly what it is you are afraid of. For Example, people who are afraid of flying, aren’t actually afraid of being on the plane and flying, they are afraid of the plane crashing and dying as a result.
So our first step will be to Identify the specific fear or thing driving the fear.
We then move on to desensitizing it and overcoming it. Before this however, we have to have a strong desire to do it.
To help this desire, write down why you want to overcome this fear. What negative impact has it had on your life? How would conquering this fear change your life? The bigger the benefits, the more energy you will invest in overcoming the fear.
Now let’s talk about a few awesome ways of confronting your fears.
Immediate Exposure technique.
This technique is often recommended but cautioned. It requires facing the fear by exposing yourself to it immediately and intensively. It is cautioned because it causes high anxiety, and panic, as you confront the fear head on. This would be like taking someone that’s afraid of heights sky diving, or sticking someone on stage in front of millions, that’s afraid of public speaking. If successful you would be immediately desensitized to the fear, however if a traumatic experience happens as a result of this, it would only confirm or further rationalize why you were afraid of this in the first place.
Be sure that you are absolutely ready to do anything it takes and continue to do it, until you have overcame this fear, before diving head first into this technique.
The next Technique is Gradual Exposure.
This technique often requires someone to help through the process, or strong self accountability. It takes place over a series of steps, which increases intensity of exposure, as you become more comfortable facing the fear.
The idea is to gradually desensitize yourself by initially starting in a non-threatening situation, and then building up over time to slightly more and more threatening instances, until you eventually reach your goal of overcoming the fear.
Along with these two methods here are a few methods to overcome fears easily.
One of my favorites (probably because of the name lol)
Progressive Collapse (not like in building collapsing!)
Progressing Collapse is best described as the “and then what?” technique. It takes the worst case scenario in any situation, and then ask. “and then what?”
For example I’m driving home as I realize my one of my headlights is out. I can either start to become fearful, and paranoid about every cop looking car behind me, as I nervously grip the steering wheel, or I can apply this technique.
I’m afraid to get pulled over..
and then what? well the cop is going to ask me if I know why I’m being pulled over?
and then what? I tell him I just realized it went out.
and then what? He can give me a ticket.
and then what? I’m going to have to pay it or go to court.
and then what? I can get a fine, which I have to pay.
and then what? Less money to do blah but I’ll be fine..
So worst case scenario it might cost me some money. Know what, so is having a nice dinner with friends, that’s not so bad. Proceed to turning the music back up, and cruising home..
Most of the things we fear aren’t so bad, once we progress the storyline, they collapse onto themselves and we realize, it wasn’t that big of a deal to begin with.
Changing the Movie in your Mind. Is also another useful technique. In most cases our mind conjures up pictures, sounds, or feelings of negative events or consequences when we encounter our fears. Try to associate something a little brighter or funnier into these pictures. Maybe your favorite song, or comedian. This will reduce the impact the fear has on us. Our fears are only as powerful as its representation in our minds.
Reframe : Depending on how nice of a frame you put on a picture, it can make that picture look immensely better. With the opposite effect using a crappy frame on a nice picture.
How we look at a situation determines how we will respond to it. By looking at something bad, as a lesson learned, or awareness created. We reframe that result, which makes it less threatening, and instead a benefit to us.
Circle of Power : Think of a time in which you were greatly successful. Maybe it was an award you receive, or some kind of recognition in something you are awesome at. Remember how you felt, remember the confidence you had. And in your mind create a circle beneath your feet that takes you back to that moment. Now when going into a fearful situation, step into that circle. Feel that confidence of being awesome, and then take that power with you, as you face that fear! Over the years I’ve personally wore different tokens of power, which I would use to channel my inner confidence whenever I needed it. Use what ever works best for you.
FEAR : False Evidence Appearing Real. Remember 95% of the things we fear, are only illusions created by our minds, to try and protect us. It isn’t the actual reality of it. Fear is the biggest cancer in today’s society, and when we become courageous, we break barriers!
In the past, Doctors (These guys are smart people!) said that it was impossible to run a sub 4 minute mile, because the human body couldn’t handle it. And for years many runners were in fear of pain an injury, which limited their minds from allowing them to do so. Roger Bannister understood how the mind works, and when he broke that 4 minute mile unscathed, many followed in his footsteps.
Let’s Break those barriers, and reach new heights in our lives! Let’s conquer those fears, and unlock our true potential!
Until next time friends!
~Born for Greatness, Live to Become Legendary!~