How Do I Overcome Fear: A 3 Step Process
This will only work if you are willing to feel a little discomfort when facing your fears. Most people stop as soon as they start feeling the fear. They talk themselves into thinking… “I just can’t do it” and they don’t push through. Breakthroughs happen as a result of pushing through… not by backing out. And, if you’re looking for an easy way out, you may be waiting for a long time.
Fear is created. Yes, there is an evolutionary explanation of where fear comes from and why the feeling is necessary. I don’t argue against that. However, for our purposes in this article, we’ll work within the premise that we live with fear because we create it… and in these type of cases fear doesn’t serve you.
Fear is created by our minds. It’s created by the thought process that occurs right after something happens that we perceive to be negative; an experience we judged to be extremely uncomfortable. Remember that all experiences are neutral until we add an interpretation of the event. That is why 2 people can see the same event differently (one will be afraid of being in the spotlight and the other wont).
Here are the general steps outlining how you fear formed – I will use a hypothetical example to illustrate:
- You have an experience (e.g., Being put in the spotlight in a social situation with nothing to say)
- You have certain feelings about the results of this experience (e.g., anxiety, stress, feeling stupid and ashamed)
- You form an association in your mind – about what this experience means (e.g., spotlight situations lead me to feel extremely embarrassed and anxious because I don’t know how to handle myself… If this happens in the future, I will be embarrassed all over again).
- In the future, you actively avoid this experience to keep from experiencing more shame and embarrassment
- After repeated avoidance of like-situations, your belief about being in a spotlight gets stronger and anxiety sets in when faced with a similar situation (e.g., being in the spotlight is extremely shameful and dangerous for my overall well-being)
- Fear can also be formed based on a single experience. If the one-time event produces strong enough negative emotion, it’s enough to cause fear of like situations.
If you paid close attention to my words above, you probably caught on that your fears are sustained by your assumption that you can PREDICT the outcome of the next experience (e.g., spotlight situations lead me to feel extremely embarrassed and anxious because I don’t know how to handle myself… If this happens in the future, I will be embarrassed all over again). It also happens due to our nature to EXAGGERATE. (Read more about this in my 10 Things You Don’t Know About Yourself post.
It’s time to challenge these amateur predictions. Now that we know how fear is formed… it becomes much easier to
Here are 3 easy steps you can follow to overcome your fear:
Stand up to your thoughts. Start with editing your beliefs. Catch yourself when you’re speaking about the outcome of the future with absolute confidence. You’re not a psychic, so you really don’t know what will happen.
Face what you fear. You can’t just work on changing thoughts, you have to give yourself real life evidence why something doesn’t need to be fear causing. Start by practicing the skills you need so you feel prepared when facing your fears.
Keep facing your fears… or they will come back. Once brain pathways are created…they never disappear and can be easily triggered in the future (this includes your fear pathways). As such, keep facing your fears or they may come back.
NOTE: The one purpose in life we all share is the need for growth. And that means recognizing where we can improve. For some that may mean conflict resolution, or accepting accountability, or working on improving their work ethic. For others, it is overcoming fear. If you recognize you have fears, overcome them so you can experience the lightness of life.