Fear can be extremely debilitating, but when harnessed and channelled appropriately, it can be a great motivator. One of the key strategies to becoming a more successful person is dealing with fear in a positive and constructive manner.
Everyone experiences fear. I know I do. For most of my life I had been terrified of dogs. Fearing they would tear me apart. Did you know, dogs are able to actually smell fear? This, of course, made me even more afraid. Seventeen years ago I made a decision. The way I saw it was that I had two choices. I could either be afraid of dogs for the rest of my life or face my fear head on. So, I started walking a friend’s dog. A terribly uncomfortable experience at first, but after walking the dog a few times, the fear no longer had a hold on me. I took away its power and rendered it helpless.
We often allow fear to hold us back from reaching our fullest potential. But you can use that fear to change your life and shape your future. Dan Brown, in his book The Lost Symbol, wrote: “We all fear what we do not understand”. This article will look at understanding fear, its effects and how to overcome your fear.
What is fear?
Fear is a natural part of life, arising in situations of perceived threat or danger. It has been placed within you to prevent you from doing something foolish, like jumping off the roof of your house. However, fear also emerges during stressful events, like exams, public speaking, a new job or going on a date.
Fear is one of the most powerful emotions and has a very strong effect on your mind and body. What happens when we experience fear? First your eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin picks up the fear cues from your surroundings and sends them to your brain. The brain’s threat centre, the amygdala, then sounds the alarm. The flight or fight response kicks in. Your heart beats faster, your breathing quickens and your body prepares for battle.
There are two types of fear arousal.
1. Via conscious appraisal: When you see something and interpret it as fearful. Here you have some control. You can interpret these situations in a more constructive and positive way.
2. Primary fear: Your automatic response to something dangerous, like a lion chasing you. No need to question this type of fear, just trust your body and run.
Common fears shared by most people
Extinction: Fear of aging and death. This is that panicky feeling you get when peering off the roof of your house.
Mutilation: The fear of losing any part of your body. A dog mauling at your flesh would fall into this category.
Separation: Fear of losing a job or loved one. This fear encapsulates rejection and abandonment.
Loss of autonomy: The fear of being trapped or immobile, paralyzed. More commonly known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to our social interactions and relationships.
Ego-death: The fear of humiliation and shame. Did you know, three out of four individuals fear public speaking?
How to Overcome your Fear
Change the way you view it: Fear is like a construction worker vigorously waving his red flag back and forth, warning you to stay where you are. Do not come any closer, there’s danger ahead. In reality, fear is trying to derail your progress, preventing you from reaching your next level of achievement. See the red flag of fear as a key to where you need to proceed, move forward and advance.
Build your courageous muscle: By lifting weights consistently, you are actually causing tiny tears in your muscle fibres, which the body then repairs. Your body adapts, grows and strengthens that muscle to better lift weights in the future. Just like weight training, you need to flex your courageous muscle consistently to help it grow stronger and more resilient to life’s challenges. It may not be comfortable and it might even hurt, but you’ll be better able to take on opportunities and challenges. Do things that test your limits.
Do it anyway: When you feel that fear and it’s holding you back, just do it. Take action. Show up when it would be easier to run away. This will give you a major boost of confidence and advance you toward greatness.
Leave your comfort zone: Try new things. Brian Tracy said: “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new”. Heed his advice and venture into the unknown. If anything else, leaving your comfort zone will be very exciting.
Pray: God will give you the strength to deal with fear. He has put talents and gifts in you that you will only be able to discover when you face your fears and push past the barriers. He will guide you to breaking free from fear.
Never let fear stop you from reaching your fullest potential. Be fearless. Let the red flag guide you to new and exciting discoveries.
Whenever fear shows up in your life, you now know it’s an indicator that your break through is near. Do not let fear stop you from moving forward. Utilise that energy and walk your fears.
How has overcoming fears opened new opportunities for you? Send me an email. I would love to hear from you.