“Just remember, you can do anything you set your mind to, but it takes action, perseverance, and facing your fears.” — Gillian Anderson
Overcoming Your Fears
Fears can be powerful; they can be all-consuming. They can stop us from doing something that we’ve always wanted to do, gripping us in a sedentary state, overwhelming us with anxiety, and causing our over-active minds to extrapolate unnerving doomsday scenarios.
But fear can also be a great motivator. When fear is flipped onto its head, it can actually push us to achieve our goals. We can go from a state of inaction, to one of massive and consistent action towards our goals. All we need to do is use our fears as a platform for growth rather than stagnation.
So how do we get there? How do we turn fear from an immobilizer into a motivator?
If you’re anything like me, then fear has been a predominant force in your life. In fact, no one has been immune to fear. The only difference between a successful person and one that might deem themselves a failure, is their uncanny ability to use fear as leverage rather than a stumbling block.
I’ve had to overcome many fears in my life – powerful fears in my mind that I made out to be so much more than they were. I added fuel to their fire, stoking the flames ever so greater as the pictures of my eventual demise grew bigger and brighter in my mind with each passing day.
Thankfully, I learned something very powerful along the way. I learned how to use my fears to help me achieve my goals rather than to keep from pursuing them.
So how do we actually use fear to our advantage rather than allowing it to hold us back? How do we overcome fears that might be so ingrained in our way of thinking that they’ve formed habitual patterns of thought that subconsciously hold us back from living the life that we deserve?
There is in fact a proven method to help you overcome your fears, whatever those fears might be. But it involves being completely honest with yourself.
Understanding Your Fears
What is fear? What purpose does it serve? The dictionary definition of fear presents it as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.” But we all know that it’s far more than just an unpleasant emotion.
Fear is debilitating. It binds us in shackles. It holds us back from pursuing our hopes and our dreams. In fact, fear enslaves us, imprisoning the mind to an eternity of dissatisfaction with life. All of us know just what this feels like. We know the great lengths that fear will go to hold us back from our greatest goals.
But fear is nothing more than an emotion rooted in thought. While it might be an unpleasant emotion derived by an unpleasant thought, fear is there for a reason. In fact, it’s woven in the very fabric of our being. Our DNA was hardcoded for us to avoid pain. And fear is the greatest indicator for potential pain.
Fear can symbolize physical pain, but also emotional pain, mental pain, financial pain, and just about every other pain known to man. Since we’ll do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure, fear is actually a powerful survival tool wielded by the human mind.
But fear is also a very limiting force.
When we’re afraid we don’t go out there and take risks. We sit in that fear and imagine all of the what-if scenarios. However, when we can truly understand that fear and see it for what it is, we can actually use it to our advantage rather than our disadvantage.
What Are You Afraid Of?
To overcome your fears, you have to first be honest about what you’re afraid of. Because, how can we overcome something that we don’t want to admit to ourselves? This, as you might already know, is one of the hardest parts. We don’t want to consciously admit we’re afraid of something.
But, by being honest about our fears, we signal a shift in the mind. When we expose what’s hidden in the subconscious mind to the conscious mind, a powerful shift occurs. We can bare witness to our fears and watch them as they cross our minds then flutter away rather than running and hiding from them.
So what are you afraid of? The only way to overcome your fears is to take an honest approach to them. Grab a sheet of paper and write them out, one per page. At the top, write out your biggest fear and underline it. Do the same for all of your other fears in descending order on separate pieces of paper.
Beneath your fear, write out the reasons why you’re so afraid of it. For example, let’s say one of your greatest fears is losing your job. Maybe you’re afraid of that because it could lead to impending financial doom. Maybe you’re living on borrowed funds or don’t seem to have enough money each month.
The reasons why you would be afraid to lose your job, then, would be because you couldn’t support yourself and your family financially. But that would mean there’s an underlying fear that if you lose your job, you couldn’t find another job. That fear then leads to a greater fear that might imply you don’t deserve whatever it is you have in your life.
If you really start digging, you’ll come up with some interesting things in your mind. The only way to expose these are to write out all the reasons for your fears. That’s why you need a full sheet of paper for each fear. You have to go into exhaustive detail.
This might sound like overkill to you, but I can assure you that it’s not. This is one of the best methods to overcome your fears. Considering that thoughts are things, whatever it is we think in our mind we gravitate towards. When fears control and consume us, they dictate every emotion and resultant action, eventually leading to the manifestation of those fears.
You can transform your fears and use them as leverage by engaging in this exercise.
How to Change Your Fears
Once you have your fears and your reasons on one side, it’s time to flip the paper over. On the backside of the paper, write out all the excuses you have to rebut the reasons you proposed on the frontside.
If you said that you’re afraid of financial calamity if you lose your job, come up with the excuses for how you’ve pulled off seemingly impossible feats in the past. Maybe you lost your job in the past and it signaled a turning point for you. Because you lost the job, you went back to school, improved your education, and eventually got a better job.
Maybe, when you lost your job in the past, you were able to get a new job much quicker than you thought. Don’t sell yourself short and come up with fears that manifest into reality. Why are the reasons for your fears invalid?
Whatever the excuses might be, dig deep into those personal experiences and come up with powerful excuses. You might need to alter some of your beliefs in order to do this. That’s where it gets tricky. If you believe you can do something or you cannot do something, you’re usually right.
Understanding Your Beliefs
Powerful beliefs can create tunnel vision in either direction. A person with the belief that, no matter what happens, life is going to keep handing them lemons and kicking them in the butt because that’s all they’ve ever experienced, will find it hard to look past that.
On the other hand, a person that believes wholeheartedly that regardless of what happens, they will find a way to succeed, will look at the circumstances and events of their lives far differently. Thoughts will manifest themselves into reality.
So, altering beliefs, especially those that are ingrained within us, can be a monumental task. But, with the right level of commitment, focus, and ability for adaptation, anyone can do it. It’s not easy. But then again, nothing in life that’s worthwhile really is.
So what do you believe in?
Since beliefs have an enormous impact on our lives, without understanding our beliefs and even changing them, how are we expected to overcome our fears? If we believe that all people are cheaters and liars, how could we stay in a committed relationship? Marriages and business partnerships will easily fall apart when we have tunnel vision due to a belief such as this.
Grab another sheet of paper and write down what you believe in. Every single belief that you harbor should be brought out of your subconscious mind. Anything that can impact what you’re afraid of is a candidate for this.
One good way to find your beliefs is to analyze your fears from the last step. You wrote out your fears, why you were afraid of those things, and excuses as to why you’ll no longer be afraid. Those reasons for the fear are actually supported by your beliefs.
What do you believe in and how is it limiting your life and instilling fear?
If the belief is a limiting belief, then flip the script. Write out why you’re no longer willing to attest to that belief. And replace it with a new, empowering belief that will help to support you rather than hold you back. Use powerful, charged language when doing this.
Instead of saying, “I will no longer believe that I can’t accomplish something,” say, “Nothing can stop me in life. I am no longer willing to believe that I’m a product of my circumstances. I have control over my destiny, and ultimately, I will manifest the outcome that I’m after.”
See the difference?
Leveraging Your Fears
Your fears can be leveraged. They can actually help to push you forward. If you’ve done the steps in this exercise, then you should have a good handle on your fears and some of the beliefs that help to shape those fears over the course of your life.
This information is gold.
Read and re-read your answers and the information that you gleaned from doing the exercises. If you’ve created some powerful excuses to your old fears and replaced your limiting beliefs with new and empowering ones, all you have to do now is ingrain those in your mind.
Since our way of thinking can be habitual, this is going to take some work. In fact, studies have suggested that habits take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form. On average, however, it will take approximately 2 months to form a good habit or to break a bad habit.
With this information in mind, all you need to do is read your excuses and your new empowering beliefs back to yourself with strong language at least twice per day. Do it once in the morning and once before you go to sleep. Look in the mirror while doing it.
Eventually, over time, this information will become ingrained in the mind, but it won’t happen overnight. But then again, nothing worthwhile ever does.