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Is fear getting in the way of you living your best life? How can you be brave and face your fears?
Facing your fears is a rite of passage in life. No matter what age we are, we’re all scared of something, which means we’re constantly battling fears.
Take initiative with your life and learn how to face your fears with these life-changing tips.
Fear, as detrimental as it is to your progress, is comforting. You’re used to living with it, and if you’re honest, you have to admit that it’s easier to do nothing out of fear than put your heart on the line for what you believe in.
According to Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art, the most common fear encompasses your relationship with the external world. What will people think of you if you seek internal fulfillment? You’re afraid you will lose your tribe. You’re afraid of failing and the humiliation that comes with it. You fear a loss of financial or social stability. You’re afraid of wasting your time, which you believe is finite. You’re afraid of the “I-told-you-so’s” from people who don’t understand your dreams. You fear finding out you’re a fraud or not capable of living up to your calling. You’re afraid to find out you’ve been wrong about your calling.
These are valid fears, but they’re not the main fears that halt you in your tracks like quicksand. You never talk about this fear, not even to yourself. This fear is the fear of succeeding. You fear success will make you lose the life you’ve grown accustomed to. You don’t want to step out of your bubble, because you’re worried you’ll never be allowed back in. The truth is, you will lose some or all of that life, and that’s not a bad thing.
Face Your Fears With These Tips
Now that you know where fear stems from, what can you do with that knowledge? Here’s how to face your fears and be the person you’ve always dreamed of becoming.
1. Use Fear as a Motivator
When taking extreme action, you’ll experience fear because you’re going out on a limb by yourself. Grant Cardone’s book The 10X Rule claims everyone fears things in life. The key is what you do with fear. Rather than let it sap your confidence and momentum, use it to spur you toward your goals.
Fear is beneficial because:
- Fear is an indication you’re on the right track: you’re taking the right actions in the right amounts. You’re pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. (Not pushing yourself beyond what’s comfortable only gets you more of the same.)
- Fear is a motivator: Most of what you fear doesn’t happen. Instead of avoiding fear, use it to motivate yourself to act. If you’re afraid to call on a particular client, or raise a concern with your boss, do it. If you fear requesting a client’s business, persist in asking for it. The actions you fear often will give you the greatest return.
- Fear helps you grow: Embrace fear because it enables you to do new things and grow. The more you act despite fear, the more confident you’ll become in doing new things. Push yourself past fear; then push yourself until you’re afraid again, act again, and so on. By continually overcoming fears, you can build an extraordinary life. Turn fear into fuel.
The more time you give fear to build up, the stronger it becomes. The more time you spend thinking about and imagining what can go wrong in a situation, the more apprehensive you become.
Many people use one of the following excuses to delay acting when they’re afraid:
- They tell themselves they need more time to prepare, or
- They tell themselves, “This isn’t a good time.”
Either of these just gives the fear more time to build. Instead, immediately do the thing you’re apprehensive about. The only thing that will banish fear is action.
2. Deconstruct Your Fear to Take Away Its Power
With The 10X Rule’s advice, you learned how to use fear to point you in the right direction. Now with the help of Courage Is Calling by Ryan Holiday, you’ll learn how to face your fears by taking away their power.
Holiday suggests you take away power from your fears by logically deconstructing them. We tend to imagine the worst-case scenario related to our fears, but the truth is often a lot less frightening than we presume it is.
Holiday traces the practice of deconstructing fears and anxieties back to Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher, and more recently, to entrepreneur Tim Ferriss’s “fear setting” exercise. To understand and pick apart your fears, first, consider how likely it is that they’ll come true. Picture the circumstances that would cause them to come true. Then, prepare yourself for these scenarios: This removes the fear of the unknown. Once you’ve thought through your fears and identified solutions to combat them, you’ll be able to move forward with confidence that you can address anything that comes your way.
Example: Fear of Public Speaking
To illustrate how to logically deconstruct something you’re afraid of, let’s look at a common fear: public speaking. For many people, the thought of speaking in any group setting creates feelings of intense anxiety. You may be afraid that you’ll forget the words you’re supposed to say or embarrass yourself in front of people whose opinions you value.
Instead of dwelling on that fear, play out the scenario logically. In all likelihood, you’ll get through your public speaking moment with minimal issues. Your anxiety might cause you to stumble a little, or you might have a tough crowd, but even if the worst-case scenario happened—you trip on the stage, you forget the words, and so on—you’ll still be okay. You’ll move on with your life, the other people in the audience will forget, and you’ll have a funny story to tell. Giving into fear won’t prevent those things from happening, and it causes unnecessary suffering before the event occurs.
You could prepare for potential public speaking challenges by writing your points on note cards so you have something to refer to if you forget what you’re supposed to say. Or, before you go on stage, you could do a breathing exercise that calms your heart rate and helps you think more clearly.
3. Stop Making Excuses
The 10X Rule also advises you to stop using excuses to avoid the things you fear. Everyone uses excuses—we all have favorites we use repeatedly. Excuses are reasons you come up with justifying what you do or don’t do. Popular excuses include:
- I don’t have the money.
- I have kids.
- I’m married/not married.
- I’m overworked.
- I don’t have time to take classes.
- I have a terrible boss.
- The economy is bad.
But excuses aren’t the real reasons motivating what you do; they’re a rewrite of the facts to make you feel better later. For example, you might turn down a promotion and say it’s because you don’t feel qualified when, in reality, you’re afraid of the additional responsibilities. You can’t create change or improve any situation until you acknowledge the real reason for your actions or inactions. When you make excuses, you’re refusing to take responsibility for your life. Staying in your comfort zone won’t make you more successful.
If you believe success is your duty rather than an option, you must commit yourself to overcoming your fears and stop hiding behind excuses.
4. Don’t Think About the Future
Many people remain stagnant in life because they fear what their decisions could mean for the future. What they don’t realize is that if they face their fears and make big decisions, the outcomes could be better than they ever imagined. Here, we’ll explore Jen Sincero’s tips for staying in the present from her book You Are a Badass, while also looking to the past to make us more comfortable about our choices.
These tips will help stop focusing on the future so you can face your fears:
Look to the past. Think about something in your past you were afraid of. How do you feel about it now? Does it even give you a twinge of fear anymore? When you face your next challenge, remember that no matter how big it feels now, someday it will seem insignificant. Envision your current challenge from the future—from a place of victory—and it will lose much of its power to terrify you.
Try a different perspective. When you’re enveloped in fear, try looking at it from a different point of view. Break it down and pinpoint what you’re really afraid of, and then flip it around to make it work for you. For example, say you want to write a book but you can’t get started. Ask yourself why. The answer could be, “I’m scared it will be awful.” So what happens if it’s awful? “I’ll be ashamed.” So basically, you’re not writing a book to protect yourself from feeling ashamed. Then flip this around. How ashamed will you be if you don’t write your book? Very! By changing your perspective, you can use the fear of not doing the thing you’re scared of as fuel.
Be in the moment: Right now, is anything scary happening? Or are thoughts in your head freaking you out? Being afraid before something happens depletes your energy. Instead, stay in the moment and connect to your higher self. In the moments before you step into something scary—asking for a promotion, jumping out of a plane—keep your energy high and your belief in miracles strong. You’ll find you’re better equipped to deal with the situation and realize it’s scarier in your mind than in reality.
Limit the negative input you receive. The bad news you read and watch builds into your fear. But wallowing in the pain and suffering of others isn’t helping anyone. If you really want to help the world, do your work from a place of power and joy.
Don’t think about upsetting things in bed at night. Our fears feel greatly magnified at 3 am. But there’s nothing you can do about it. Instead, don’t waste precious time thinking about your problems—there’s nothing you can do about them at that point, and inevitably the next morning they don’t seem as scary. Use meditation to banish troubling thoughts. Focus on relaxing your body one muscle at a time. Do whatever you can to get a good night’s sleep—because being exhausted the next day won’t help you solve your problems.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Difficult Choices
The future is scary because we can’t predict it. With Ryan Holiday’s advice in Courage Is Calling, you can easily accept uncertainty and be bold in decision-making. The key to doing this without fear is to make the hard choices.
Holiday argues that facing your fears requires you to be decisive. You can’t predict the future, so deliberating about a decision for a long time won’t help. To move forward, you’ll eventually have to accept uncertainty and have faith that your choice will work out.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to quit your desk job to run your own business, or you’ve always wanted to live in another country. You may or may not succeed, but Holiday says to do it anyway even if you’re afraid of failing. Simple, everyday existence brings many risks, so it’s pointless to always prioritize safety. Sometimes you need to sacrifice your security so you can evolve and grow.
Don’t spend all your time afraid to make the wrong decision. Instead, have the courage to be bold and decisive. When you spend too long analyzing possible outcomes, Holiday asserts that your inaction chooses for you.
One example of this would be choosing not to vote in your country’s elections even though you’re eligible. When you don’t vote, you’re essentially choosing the candidates who win and the laws that get passed, regardless of whether you’d have supported them with your vote or not.
Not making choices can have dangerous consequences when the stakes of your decisions are high. For example, if you witness injustices in your community and you don’t speak out or act against them, then you’re playing a part in their continued existence. Silence means you choose to accept the current reality.
You’re Ready to Confront Your Fears
Now that you know how to face your fears, it’s time to put these tips into practice. The one thing to always remember is to set aside your doubts so you don’t psych yourself out. From there on out, you’ll live a life of courage that you never thought was possible.
Did these tips help you learn how to face your fears? Let us know in the comments below!
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