Everyone experiences fear at some point in their lives.
We’re creatures of habit and often shy away from being challenged to grow when we can’t fully anticipate the outcome. We prefer to stay comfortable in a place that feels safe, even if this means having regrets and missed opportunities when we’re older.
But while a little bit of fear is a good thing and stops you from doing crazy things, most of the time it holds you back and is often based on stories that you tell yourself as though they are out of your control.
So many of us are fearful of change because of the level of uncertainty it brings, but that change is inevitable. You shouldn’t allow the fear of it to prevent you from embracing the unknown, remaining true to yourself and fully participating in every chapter of your life, even if there are some you would rather skip.
There are all kinds of fears that hold us back throughout life. Maybe you fear rejection, embarrassment, loss of love, loss of financial security, or loss of respect. Harboring these fears puts you on a scale of feeling pain, helplessness, depression, and paralysis. We let our fears control and consume us, holding us back from living our dreams. But by facing them, you put yourself on the scale of having power, choice, and excitement and generally feel more productive emotions.
Having the confidence to follow your passions and participate in activities you would usually shy away from gives you back the control you feel you might have temporarily lost, ultimately making you happier.
The good news is that all fears are learned. You aren’t born being fearful. We are the root cause of them. That means that with a little self-discipline and practice, you have the power to overcome your fears and stop them from holding you back.
Here’s how you can conquer your fears and realize your full potential.
1. Figure out what’s holding you back
Make a list of all the things you’re afraid to do, such as moving to a new city, leaving a stable job, or leaving a long-term relationship that no longer fulfils you.
2. Ask yourself, “Why am I afraid of this?”
Once you’ve made your list, begin to think of why each statement causes feelings of fear for you. For example, you might add to “I’m fearful of starting my own business” with “because I’m worried that I won’t make it financially and I might embarrass myself if it fails.” Once you do this, you begin to realize that you are the one creating your fears by imagining the negative future outcomes.
3. Imagine the best possible scenario.
Instead, take that sentence and transform it into a positive one. For example, you might say “I am no longer fearful of starting my own business and failing financially, because instead I will work hard and do whatever it takes to make my business successful.” Doing this flips the fearful and helpless attitudes we have towards our fears and immediately transforms them into positive, empowering visions for success.
4. Use positive affirmations
Affirmations are powerful statements that allow us to create a success-oriented mindset by stating something in the now and believing it to be true. The next time you start to doubt an outcome, imagine the reality you desire and then form a positive statement that declares it already being achieved. For example, “I am so happy and grateful now that I’ve done x, y, z.”
5. Change your language
By wiping “can’t” from your vocabulary and acting as if you’ve already achieved your desirable outcome, you start to behave and think as though the outcome you want is already occurring. You begin to feel more affirmative and have more encouragement to attract your desire in a particular situation, taking action towards your goals. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones and visualize successful outcomes when you start to doubt yourself. And if you suddenly start to think, “What if this doesn’t work?” change it and start to think instead, “Well, what if it does?”
6. Build up to bigger challenges
Starting small is often underestimated. But taking on smaller challenges and working our way up gives us the confidence needed to achieve greater growth and success in the long-term. If you want to run a marathon, start slowly by first embarking on 5k runs and eating better. Similarly, if you want to start your own business, take a step in the right direction by contacting suppliers one day or building a website first. Breaking our goals into smaller, more manageable steps stops us from feeling fearful of the huge scale of them and keeps us pushing forward.
It’s so refreshing to realize that the fear of something won’t actually ever go away. You are always going to experience fear whenever you take a step toward anything that is new and unknown. But feeling that fear and doing it anyway forces your self-esteem and sense of personal pride to skyrocket. The more you face your fears, the smaller and more manageable they become and the happier you feel knowing you can reach your goals.
Have a little faith in the journey ahead, push through the fear, and trust that while there will always be certain situations you have no control over, what you can control is the way you choose to think about them.
No matter what the particular situation is, you will handle it.