Fear is a vital emotion – it helps us protect ourselves from harm. However, fear often presents itself as irrational, which causes us to fear situations that are far from life-threatening. In that case, fear is no longer our friend but our foe, as it holds us back from our dreams.
It’s normal to have fears, but the way you deal with them can determine whether or not you reach your full potential. You must face your fears, otherwise they will hold you back from reaching your dreams. Let’s discuss what fear is and how to overcome it to meet your goals!
What is Fear?
Fear is defined as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.” In other words, fear is the feeling of being afraid. The things we fear can either be realistic or imagined.
Realistic fear is typically physical. It abounds when you are in danger of being physically harmed. If you are in a building that is on fire, for example, you have a legitimate reason to be afraid. If you don’t get out in time, your life is in danger
Imagined fear, or unrealistic fear, is when you think you are in danger but you really aren’t. It is non-physical fear and manifests itself in the mind. The problem is, this type of fear makes up most of the what we experience today.
Some examples of imagined fear include:
- Fear of people.
- Fear of public speaking.
- Fear of bugs (unless you are allergic).
- Fear of failure.
- Fear of being judged by others.
- Fear of being alone.
- Fear of getting old.
- Fear of gaining weight.
- Fear of meeting new people.
Whether you’re a timid or confident person, chances are you can relate to some of these points above. The good news is that it’s completely possible to overcome this mental fear. Next, we’ll discover what happens when you face your fears and how to go about it.
Why Face Your Fears?
As fear is such an uncomfortable emotion to deal with, it’s easy to sit back and work your way around it rather than facing it. By doing so, you hold yourself back and might miss out on the opportunity to do some important things for personal growth, such as:
Reach Your Maximum Potential
If you let fear drive your life, you will greatly limit your ability to grow and prosper. On the other hand, when you push through your fears you realize you are capable of so much more than you may think.
In the Map of Consciousness, developed by 20th-century psychiatrist David R. Hawkins, fear clocks in at a level of 100. According to this map, emotions with a level of 200 or below are when a person begins to consume their energy and operate at an unconscious level. Fear holds you back from working out of the higher levels of consciousness outlined on the map, such as Love, Acceptance, Courage, and Joy. Conversely, facing your fears will push you up to those higher levels so you can reach your maximum potential.
Set Yourself Free
You may think fear will just go away. After all, you can always work around it, right? Wrong! Fear is something that never entirely goes away. Running away from fear is like a band-aid fix; it will work temporarily but it won’t solve the underlying problem.
For example, say you have a fear of public speaking. You do your best to avoid any and all situations where you might have to stand up in front of people and speak. That may work for a while, but what happens when your boss or your professor at school requires you to give a speech? There’s no escaping your professional and academic responsibilities.
Avoiding fear will only exhaust you. You’ll live in constant worry, thinking of ways you can avoid situations. The other option is to deal with it and set yourself free.
Learn How to Control Your Mind
Your thoughts can make or break you. When you live in a negative mindset – a mindset of fear, anxiety, and anger – you will be pretty miserable. You dwell in those thoughts, and eventually, they take over your life and your happiness.
When you learn how to control your thoughts and replace the negatives with positives, the worries with hope, the fear with determination, you can become fearless in the pursuit of your passion. By pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and overcoming those fears, you are indirectly training yourself to be in control of your thoughts.
Four Ways to Face Your Fears
Here are some things you can do to face your fears and become more courageous and successful than you’ve ever imagined!
1. Acknowledge Your Fears
Acknowledging your fears is the first step toward conquering them. Research shows that understanding one’s anxieties and limitations is a driving force of acting courageously.
When you feel anxiety, worry, or fear creeping up on you, don’t shy away from it. Take a moment to acknowledge those feelings. Simply understanding the fears you have will allow you to work towards overcoming them.
2. Slowly Expose Yourself to Your Fears
When it comes to fear, the only way out is through. In fact, exposure therapy, a technique in cognitive behavioral therapy, is a highly effective tool for overcoming irrational fears. It involves gradually exposing someone to their fears.
Whether you want to work with a professional or go at it alone, you can begin by slowly exposing yourself to your fears. For example, if you have a fear of public speaking, start small by practicing in front of family and friends. From there, move on the speaking in front of small crowds, for a short period of time. Then, work your way up to larger crowds speaking for a longer period of time. Step by step, you will start to feel less anxious as you consistently engage in what you were once afraid of.
3. Manage Your Stress
Stress and fear often go hand in hand. Stress leads to a multitude of adverse health effects and also contributes to your fear-based thinking. It’s not always easy to control stress, but exercise and meditation are two powerful techniques that greatly reduce stress levels. Whenever you’re in a moment of fear, you can also engage in deep breathing to help bring those stress levels down.
4. Think About the Outcome
We face our fears for a reason: it helps us to grow. If you don’t overcome your fears, you will never move from where you are. You will never develop a growth mindset and become a person of action, change, and success. Instead, you will remain stuck in the same situation.
Think about the outcome of facing your fears. There’s a popular quote floating around social media that asks, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” This simple yet powerful question will make you realize all the things fear holds you back from. Write down your answers to this question and remind yourself that you can overcome your fears and accomplish your dreams.