Via Thought Catalog: 7 Truths I’ve Learned About Overcoming Fear
Fear is the biggest factor stopping you from living your best life.
If you don’t have the social circle, the romantic partner or the job you want, it’s likely because you’re scared to go and get it.
I cohost a podcast called “What Are You Afraid Of?,” which explores every type of fear.
While doing this, I’ve discovered that the advice for overcoming any anxiety is similar, no matter what scares you.
Here are seven tips that can help you face your fears.
1. Don’t hesitate
Our brains are designed to protect us from anything that appears dangerous, scary, or uncomfortable. It cares more about this than anything else.
That’s why when we attempt anything risky, our mind floods with excuses not to do it.
Logically, we may want to do the activity, but this emotional part of our brain is often too powerful.
The best way to beat these emotions is to do the damn thing before you have time to think about it.
When we hesitate, we give our brain more time to think of silly excuses, and the idea ultimately becomes too overwhelming.
So, don’t think! Take action as soon as possible.
Depression is based in the past. Anxiety lies exclusively in the future. If you live in the present, you’ll never experience either of them.
Meditation trains you to escape your thoughts and focus on the moment. For this reason, several of our guests cited it as a major tool for overcoming fear.
The simple act of sitting still and concentrating on your breathing can change your life. It’s a great practice to help you calm your mind and handle negative emotions like regret, anger, or anxiety.
By learning to focus on your body, you can recognize these emotions for what they are: thoughts that live outside of you, which can be listened to or ignored.
Many beginners practice for just 20 minutes a day. After a few weeks, you should notice yourself feeling calmer, even in situations which would normally get your heart racing.
3. Take baby steps
Let’s pretend you’re a promising musician. You think you could make good money busking, but the thought of performing on the street terrifies you. That’s unsurprising. It’s a big step for someone who has never performed live before.
But what if you took smaller steps to get to that stage? Start singing in front of a mirror. Then sing for your family or at a party with close friends. Next, compete at a small talent show. Suddenly, the step up to singing on the street doesn’t seem so big.
Baby-stepping can help with any fear. On the podcast, we’ve spoken to dating coaches who teach shy men how to flirt with women. They’ll often ask their clients to “warm up” by clapping their hands loudly in public, asking people for the time, or having polite chit-chat with strangers. Once they’re in this social mood, flirting with a sexy woman doesn’t seem as intimidating.
4. It’s never as scary as you imagine
We’ve had plenty of guests speak about overcoming their fears, and not one could think of an experience that was scarier than they had imagined.
Your brain will exaggerate certain experiences to make them seem scarier. The only way you’ll truly know whether something is “too scary” is to try it.
5. Your comfort zone is like a muscle
The phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is true of mental barriers as well as physical ones. Just like a muscle, your comfort zone grows the more you stretch it.
Stroking a cobra might be scary the first time, but the more you expose yourself to it, the easier it becomes. It’s the same story for any activity, from busking to bungee jumping.
6. Fear never goes away
There’s no eliminating fear. It’s an inherent part of us. This emotional, protective part of the brain doesn’t disappear.
We’ve spoken to pick-up artists who still feel nervous when they approach beautiful women. Skydiving coaches still get butterflies as they hang out of a helicopter.
However, these people have mastered the art of controlling these fears and acting in spite of them. You can do the same.
7. The best things in life are a bit scary
It’s interesting how life’s best experiences often trigger the same symptoms as fearing for your safety: sweat, racing heart, heavy breathing, burning desire to run away, etc.
It’s because succeeding at these activities will feel incredible, and thus failing will be disappointing.
Still, the only way to get what we want in life is to go through these moments and excel at them.
That means we have to learn to face our fears without losing our composure.
Armed with these tips, you’ll be ready for whatever life throws at you.