Fear can be a debilitating thing. It can completely ruin your day or even, in some cases, your life! Fear is an emotion, and while sometimes it’s very valid and can help preserve your life, there are other times it simply must be faced and dealt with in order to be free.
Personally, fear pisses me off. I don’t like the feeling of fear. And therefore, I MUST overcome my own fears in order to feel at peace.
Right after my 3-wheeler accident – you know, the one in which a dude drove me off a cliff in upstate N.Y. and I broke a gazillion bones – I developed PTSD. I couldn’t even hear the sound of an ATV without going into a panic attack. I popped Xanax like candy because I lived in an area where they were driven past my house all hours of the day and night.
When I moved, I avoided them like the plague for years until I started hanging out with a friend who owned a 4-wheeler. He badgered me and belittled me and called me a pussy until I finally got on the damned thing. And then he took me for the most terrifying ride of my life – in the dark, on trails through the woods, with no headlights.
It was an extreme situation, to be sure, but by the end of that ride, I was having so much fun that I ended up going on 60 mile rides with him several times a week – through rivers, along drop-offs, full speed down country roads. I overcame my fear and rekindled my absolute LOVE of riding again.
Now, I’m not saying to go do something crazy as all that, but the fact remains – you CAN overcome your fears. You can kick those little shits right in the face. Over the course of my 40 years, I’ve discovered several tactics to employ when faced with the obstacle of having a fear holding me back from reaching my full potential. Perhaps they will be useful to you, as well.
Here are some effective strategies you can use to overcome your fears:
1. What is your fear? If you can identify it, you’re off a good start. Can whatever you fear hurt you? Begin to conquer your fear by determining if it is rational or irrational.
* If you fear something, but it can’t harm you in any way, then you’re working with an irrational fear. In truth, there’s nothing to fear here, although it sure is easier said than done!
* If it can hurt you, then there’s validation in your fear. In the least, you can work out a backup plan that gives you some level of comfort.
2. What are other people doing? Whatever your fear is, someone else has experienced it as well. Search out those people who share your feelings and learn from them.
* For example, if you’re afraid of flying, you probably know people who have flown, so talk to them about it! It’s quite possible they also had the same fear and overcame it. Ask them what steps they took to move beyond their fear.
3. Confront your fear! Although talking about your fear is the starting point, ultimately you need to face your fear head on. You’ll never get over a fear solely by talking about it. Nothing can be conquered until you face it.
4. You don’t have to face it all alone. Reach out to your loved ones for support. They’ll be happy to help you overcome something that’s preventing you from having a better life.
5. Find a safe way to confront your fear. Take a trusted person with you and start by facing a scaled down version of the thing that causes you anxiety.
6. Change the way you do things. You’ve heard the expression “Mind over matter.” Facing your fear is often a matter of simply making a decision to change it. This fear was born in your mind and it grew because you fed it more fear.
If you’ve convinced yourself that an irrational fear is real, you can do the same in reverse. Many fears we have are those we’ve created for ourselves. The moment something causes you to become fearful, stop that thought in its tracks and turn it into something positive instead.
7. The best defense is a strong offense! Instead of hiding from your fear and creating defenses to keep it away from you, use the things you’ve read here to build up a way to attack your fear head on.
* Research your fear and learn about it.
* Discover the best way to destroy it with a direct attack.
* Sometimes the best way to beat a fear is by doing the very thing you fear. If you’re afraid of being in an elevator, take a close friend with you and ride an elevator. Even one or two floors at a time will help you work towards overcoming your fear.
* Repeat your experiment until you aren’t afraid of it anymore.
There are fears that are perfectly normal, such as a fear of being burned while cooking. You should be a little afraid of burns – they hurt!
Those types of fears are normal, perfectly rational fears and are not something you need to fix. Fears can be helpful in many circumstances. However, if a fear is controlling your life, you need to face it head on and conquer it.
~ Carrie A Medford
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