Fear has many faces …
Fear can get to us often whether it is fear of failure, fear of success or even fear of fear itself. Everyone has experienced fear at some point. Fear is often can be a real stumbling block that prevents success.
Fear doesn’t have to hold you back
Let’s look at some specific strategies that might help you if fear is interfering with your success.
1. SEPARATE REALITY FROM PERCEPTION
Ask yourself what is really going on, locate the facts and place them over your feelings. Our human brain is very good at distorting reality and considering things from a fear perspective.
2. IDENTIFY THE TRIGGERS THAT MAKE YOU AFRAID
Figure out what it is in a situation that triggers you. To give fear a name, and begin to understand what it is rooted in is to begin to slice it into little pieces that you can manage and control.
3. KNOW WHERE FEAR LIVES IN YOUR BODY
Fear can have a very physical role in our bodies. For some people you may get butterflies in your stomach, others may get sweaty palms or a racing heart – fear affects different people in different ways. Identify if/how it affects your physical body and do the work to take care of your body. For example if you get a tension headache you can experiment with heat packs or rubbing your temples or if you hold stress in your back, you can learn stretches, or practice foam rolling to mitigate that ache.
4. PRACTICE GRATITUDE
You knew I’d remind you of this one. Everyday, list out 1-3 things you are thankful for. FInd a pause, when you get up, go to bed, brush your teeth, feed the dog, on the mounting block – you pick your place and time and remember to be grateful (if that is hard for you don’t forget you can always sign up for the Gratitude Project emails) It doesn’t matter how big or small it is, gratitude helps shift the mind into a positive light, which overcomes fear.
5. LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE
Monitor your inner conversations. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself. We can be so very cruel to ourselves. And that helps absolutely nothing. Speak positively to yourself and remind yourself of your strengths.
6. CREATE A NEW ASSOCIATION
If you have a negative conditioned emotional response to something it takes time and attention to change that state. It won’t happen by magic. Remind yourself that the feeling and the moment will pass. Focus on the positive outcome of the situation, rather than the scary in-between. Experiment with self compassion when you feel fear rising to find associations of comfort. Affirmations like “I can do this”, or ones that directly address the root fear can help you change your associations with the source of angst.
7. LOOK AT THE GLASS HALF FULL
Perception is very powerful, and how you feel about your situation dictates how you respond. So think positively and you’ll give yourself a much better chance of success. This won’t happen overnight; practice with just one thought (JOT) and STOP. Get used to using your tool of choice in less stressful moments and it will become more automated when fear boils over. What is one recurring negative/fearful thought you have? Work on reversing this one thought. ONE thought at a time.
8. PRACTICE BREATHING EXERCISES
Breathing helps center your body; when you stop breathing, your heart stops beating. That’s why panic attacks feel so absolutely shattering – your brain can’t believe you can and will breathe through them. You can do a grounding exercise, or even just take 5 deep, long breaths at any point to calm and center yourself. If you are generally feeling fearful adding this practice to your morning routine can make a huge difference but breathing and grounding are useful throughout the day.
9. CREATE A SAFE SPACE
When you feel safe and secure, there is no room for fear. Find somewhere safe you can retreat to when ill feelings begin- whether this is a real place such as your bedroom, or a place in your mind such as the beach. This sense of comfort will soothe you and allow you to face your fear. Set your space up thoughtfully with attention to detail. What can you see, smell and feel when you are there?
There are always more ideas worth experimenting with – but hopefully one or more of the tools covered here will get you started on facing and overcoming your fears. Carrying fear is human, there is nothing inherently wrong with it – but freeing yourself from fear is liberating and empowering. Give it a shot!