“Sometimes the only way to overcome a fear, is to do the thing that you’re afraid of.”
It’s natural to feel afraid. Fear has always played a critical part in survival. It has ensured our safety, forcing us to run away from large predators, or proceed cautiously in an area of danger. But in our modern society, fear has been adapted to react to all sorts of phenomenon. These reactions can have positive, and negative effects.
As a positive, fear can help motivate us to avoid certain consequences (like missing an important deadline). It can also fulfill its primary function to keep us out of trouble. As a negative, fear can be a stubborn house guest in our lives that can significant hinder our ability to make life as rich and as full as we otherwise may have. Whether it’s being afraid of a small spider on the wall, or shaking at the knees at the thought of public speaking, or fearing a change in your life, fear can trigger about all sorts of unpleasant reactions.
It’s always important to try and understand the root of your fears. Why? Because the journey to uncover that answer can reveal so much about yourself, and knowledge of the self can be very empowering. This is why the first step in overcoming fear can be to understand why the fear exists to begin with. The reason can be biological, psychological, or just plain logical (and fear can be quite crafty at using logic in its favour).
While understanding the fear is a very important first step, there are some fears that we just can’t find the root cause of, or fears that we simply cannot escape from no matter how much reflecting or reading we do. All the knowledge in the world is not very useful when you find yourself paralyzed with inaction when faced with your fear. For many of these fears, the only remedy then is ACTION: to simply do what it is that scares you the most.
Taking action is obviously much easier said than done. And despite the difficulty, it can be done in slow steady steps. While it is a noble quest to overcome a fear overnight, it is not likely to happen. By slowly taking steps to desensitize ourselves to that fear, it can be overcome in time.
Surround yourself with people who will support you on your journey. Pat yourself on the back and reward yourself with each successful step taken. Take note or document every success. Don’t worry if you have more perceived failures than successes; I use the phrase “perceived failures” because each failure can easily be a step towards success if it is learned from, and if you try again (and it was still a step forward in terms of desensitization). Depending on the fear, there can be many, many ways to overcome it (see the links below). You will have setbacks. You will have unexpected surprises. But YOU have to be the one to take the first steps.
Philosophizing and daydreaming about overcoming a fear can have its benefits, but its not nearly as effective a teacher as DOING whatever it is you fear. Without action, even the best strategy is just that…a strategy.
Accept your fear, and act on it. There are 7 billion people on our small blue planet, but only ONE of them has the power to overcome your fears: YOU. By taking action (no matter how small), you can slowly begin to own your fears, instead of having your fears own you.
What are you afraid of? How are you taking action to overcome it? Share, and inspire others to do the same!