When someone asks you why you haven’t done the things you really want to in life, what’s your answer?
I don’t know how. I’m not ready. I’m not sure. etc etc.
All of those things might seem legit on the surface. But when you take the time to look a little deeper, you’ll notice that they all come from the exact same place.
Fear isn’t always heart-pounding, knuckle-whitening panic.
In fact, most of the time it’s a lot more subtle than that!
It’s the voice that’s telling you not to bother trying because you’re going to fail. It’s the voice that tells you you’re not good enough or that people are going to laugh at you. It’s the voice saying you’re not done yet, that you need help, that it’ll only work if you you were younger/smarter/knew the right people/went to a better school.
Fear is always the real reason we haven’t achieved our dreams. And it’s so good at it’s job that you might not even realize that it’s there.
Your brain’s #1 job is to keep you safe. Your body wants to you live and procreate and it’s been programmed to do exactly that. So your brain got really good at figuring out where danger was because a really long time ago danger actually meant something.
When humans experienced fear back then it was because something was coming to eat you or that your life was in immediate danger!
But today we experience fear when we have to get up in front of a crowd and give a speech. Which is not exactly a life-threatening situation (even though at times it very much feels like it)!
We are the ancestors of people who survived.
But unfortunately, our brain’s fear muscles have gotten a little overdeveloped. Nowadays they’re so good at detecting fear that they interpret all kinds of things as being dangerous, even when they’re very much not. So in that way, fear is just an illusion in our own mind.
Our unacknowledged fears are the worst of all! You must always name it to change it. So if you don’t know what you’re actually afraid of, you’ll never have the chance to move on.
One of fear’s most insidious tricks is the excuse. They’re the stories we tell to rationalize our life. Our excuses seem solid and logical to us but when it comes down to it, they’re anything but. They’re actually just make-believe!
If you want to create the life of your dreams, you’ll have to learn how to face your fears.
There’s no way to branch out and experience new things in life without finding yourself in a scary new scenario!
But doubting yourself or even straight-up self-sabotaging yourself isn’t doing you any favours.
Staying safe won’t make you happy at the end of your life! Safe is BORING. And it goes against your very nature as a constantly growing and evolving human.
Look at it this way: everything you want is on the other side of your fear!
So the more fear you can bring up and tackle head-on, the further down the road to happiness you’ll be.
3 Important Facts About Fear
Fear Fact #1: Fear Is A Natural Part Of Life
Here’s the bad news my darlings: there will never EVER come a day where you will have passed everything you are afraid of and will never have to deal with fear ever again. We’re always growing, changing and expanding which means we’re also creating new experiences all the time. And new experiences are where fear lies.
One of the biggest misconceptions I’ve seen when it comes to personal development is the perfection myth: that if we do enough work on ourselves, we won’t ever have to exert ourselves or face fear ever again.
But no matter how successful you become, you will always face new challenges and with new challenges come fears and doubts. Those things won’t ever go away so it’s foolish to think you can change them! Instead, it’s time we start accepting that fear is a natural part of life and start learning how to deal with it the right way.
Fear Fact #2: Fear Isn’t A Sign That Something Is Wrong
Most people misinterpret fear to mean something more than it is. But being afraid does not have any reflection on your actual talents or abilities! Even Beyonce and Serena Williams still experience fear at times. (I guarantee it!)
Simply being afraid of something isn’t a sign that you shouldn’t bother trying. It’s natural. It’s normal and you are perfectly capable of being afraid and still doing the damn thing!
Fear Fact #3: Worry Doesn’t Help Anything
Incessant worrying and anxiety are also playing a trick on you. They pose as your friends: they fool you into believing that if you think about something look enough you’ll be able to make the “right” decision. So worrying almost seems like a good thing to do with your time!
But let’s make no mistake: it’s not. There’s actually no way to worry your way into the right answer! The best way to figure anything out is always by doing.
So now that we’ve figure out what fear really is, it’s time to start facing those fears! Here are six proven techniques to move past your fear and start making progress:
How To (Finally!) Face Your Fear
How To Face Your Fears Step #2:
Fortunately for all of us, fear doesn’t have to be the boss! Mastering your fears is a skill that can be learned. But contrary to what you might think, this process isn’t about becoming fearless. It’s about learning to feel the fear and take action anyway, even when your brain is busy trying to talk you out of it.
Again, your brain is just trying to keep you safe and it’s going to keep coming up with new ways to do that! So it’s up to you to learn how to disregard this helpfulness and take action anyway.
How To Face Your Fears Step #2:
Most of the time we make our fear mean so much more than what they actually mean! Again, I’m a big fan of “name it to change it” philosophy. Simply walking through your “worst case scenarios” will quickly illustrate how small our fears really are.
For example, say you want to quit your job to start a business or travel for a year. What’s the worst case scenario? Losing all of your savings and having to go work in a coffee shop? So what if that happens for a little while? It might not be ideal but it also wouldn’t be the end of the world. Your life doesn’t stop there! You’re going to keep going no matter what happens and the story only ends when you say it does.
How To Face Your Fears Step #3:
Many times the thing we’re most afraid of is making the wrong choice. But we cheat ourselves out of reality here. There’s just no way to logic your way to the right decision! You need to try things out to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
So that means you must also become comfortable with failure. Contrary to what most of us think, failure isn’t the end of the world! It’s high time to reframe what failure actually means. For me, failure is just part of the process that helps you find the right answer. Because when you know what doesn’t work, you’re also closer to what does.
How To Face Your Fears Step #4:
Consider The Cost Of Inaction
Fear is paralyzing. But as we’ve learned, waiting to just think of the right answer never works! So when you’re faced with making a scary decision, the real question to ask yourself is what will happen if I don’t do anything?
Our brain likes to think that if we continue to mull things over, we’ll somehow arrive at a logical conclusion. But time keeps passing as we mull things over and sometimes that means that the ability to make a decision is also removed from us entirely.
Being able to make a decision is a gift but there is usually a short window of opportunity. When you’re standing on the precipice trying to decide whether or not to jump, the answer is ALWAYS to jump. You have the power to decide so please use it! Don’t wait for the cliff to disappear entirely.
How To Face Your Fears Step #5:
Model Your Behavior
One of my favorite ways to face my fears is to think about someone who embodies the qualities you want to emulate. How would that person deal with the situation? What would they think about it? How would the feel about it? And what would they do?
Yes, this is faking it until you make it! But humans can actually learn a lot from watching and modeling ourselves after other people. You’re actually doing this all the time subconsciously!
The only difference here is to make this process conscious: pick someone who seems fearless in the area that you feel lacking in. And then figure out how to try on some of their personality and attitude. It’s funny how simply pretending to be someone else can shift our perspective so much sometimes it gives you just enough of an attitude adjustment to get the job done.
How To Face Your Fears Step #6:
For some reason, humans seem hard-wired to focus on our flaws instead of all of our attributes. (Do you remember any of the compliments you’ve received last year? Well, what about what some rude kid said to you in third grade? I rest my case.)
So whenever you feel fear, it’s time to start remembering all the times you’ve succeeded against your own fears in your past. Just write them down in a notebook or on your phone and keep tracking them! When you see them all together as a group, you’ll see just how often you’ve succeeded and that will give you more confidence.
We’ve all taken a deep breath and jumped at some point. It doesn’t even matter if things worked out or not! The point is just that you already have a history of taking action while feeling unsure or anxious. This exercise just helps to underline the fact that you are a capable human being and there’s literally nothing you can’t do!
Whew! That was a long post but I really hope you found some value in it! Fear is something we all have to deal with and unfortunately, it’s not something they teach you how to do in school. (But it would be if I had any say about things!) Fear is normal and natural but it’s also very manageable if you’re willing to put in the work.
As always, thank you so much for reading! Much love to you all. ????