How to Confront Your Fears & Accept Challenges

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Way of the SEAL" by Mark Divine. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to live to your fullest potential? How do you confront your fears to do so?

Your fears may be holding you back in life, but you can overcome them. The Way of the SEAL by Mark Divine guides you through confronting your fears so you can reach your potential.

Here’s how to confront your fears and be the person you’re meant to be.

Confront Your Fear and Unleash Your Potential

Divine says that to tap your inner power and operate at your peak, you have to step out of your comfort zone and learn how to confront your fears. Your comfort zone makes you feel safe but is actually a prison. It allows you to live in a state of fear of the unknown. This makes you reluctant to try new things and prevents you from growing. 

The only way to escape the comfort prison is to seek out and do things you’re scared of. When you push your limits and find you can conquer challenges you didn’t think you could, your understanding of yourself expands—leading to greater confidence and growth.

(Shortform note: In The 10X Rule, Grant Cardone argues that you shouldn’t allow fear to sap your energies, but rather inspire you to action. Fear tells you that you’re on the right track. When you push yourself out of your comfort zone you work toward change that helps you grow. The more you give into fear and worry about what could go wrong, the more powerful your fearful feelings become—leading to more apprehension. To avoid this, confront your fears immediately by taking action.) 

Completing a terrifying challenge taught an executive who Divine took on a rappelling trip that he could confront and survive his worst fears. Midway down a 100-foot cliff in Mexico, Divine directed the executive—who had a fear of heights—to take things “one step at a time.” But as the executive descended he panicked, flipped upside down, and started screaming for help. Divine shouted at him to stop screaming and focus by closing his eyes and breathing deeply. The executive did as instructed, regained control, and safely reached the ground. 

(Shortform note: Studies reveal that some people are naturally more willing to confront their fears and take risks that others find terrifying. These folks have a gene variant that makes their brains experience thrills as even more exciting when they’re unexpected. This preference for novelty (or the unexpected) and risk and reward appears to be hardwired and linked, but not fixed: Other studies suggest that risk-taking can be reduced by mimicking dopamine signals in the brain or exposing risk takers to poor outcomes associated with their risky behavior.)

To step out of your comfort zone and face your fears, Devine says you should welcome new challenges: 

  • Schedule challenges for yourself once a week, month, and year. This will force you out of your comfort zone regularly, making the process less painful and fear-laden.
  • Meet challenges with positive self-talk and a smile. This allows you to assert control in the new situation and reminds you that pain you experience along the way is part of the process of achieving a bigger goal.   
  • Make discipline, drive, and determination a habit. Cultivate discipline to help build habits, drive (the reason why you do things), and determination (your commitment to the action you’re carrying out). This creates a positively reinforcing cycle that supports your ability to continually take on new challenges.  

(Shortform note: Medical experts say there’s a good reason to take on new challenges: It changes your brain for the better. Research suggests that when you do things that push your brain in new ways, like learning a novel skill, you may create new connections between brain cells, which helps you learn. This can be even a small action, like trying to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand or eating with your eyes closed. Or, go bigger: Take a dance class or explore a new town or city. Any new change and challenge can keep your brain cells growing.)

How to Confront Your Fears & Accept Challenges

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Way of the SEAL summary:

  • A former Navy SEAL's strategies to help business leaders
  • A mind-body technique that combines yoga, martial arts, and SEAL training
  • How to bolster and harness your mental fortitude

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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