October 31th, 2009 by Kevin Ngo
When it comes to overcoming fear, there are a couple of things you will want to know. Fear is something that can stop us in our tracks. It’s the number one reason why most people never get to experience the life that they truly want. Be it fear of failure, fear of success, or any other type of fear, being able to figure out how to overcome it will put you in a position where you can do more and have more in your life. Let’s first examine exactly what causes fear. From there, I will give you some insights and tips on how you can overcome it.
What Is Fear?
The word fear has been described in an acronym to mean False Evidence Appearing Real. Franklin Roosevelt said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” We can take this to mean that fear is actually in our mind. You see, fear isn’t some thing that you can see. It’s not something that is on the outside of your body. It’s actually created from within. In other words, we experience fear because of what we imagine to be a possible outcome.
For example, if you have a fear of flying, it’s not that you are scared of flying itself. What you are really scared of is the plane crashing. Actually, that’s not either but I’ll get into that in a bit. Most of what we fear is actually created by what we imagine in our head. This means that to overcome fear, you will need to imagine a different set of outcomes.
Let me ask you this. How many of your fears have actually come true? We are afraid of so many things but in reality, how many of those events that we try desperately to avoid actually happen when we act regardless of our fears? Overcoming fears, any type of fear, comes down to realizing that you are in control of your own fear. It’s not something out there that will hurt you. It’s what you are imagining in your mind that is causing you to be afraid.
If you have a phobia of some kind, it may take a bit more than just understanding that fear is self created to overcome it but for most people, just understanding that they are the controller of your own fears can help them to get rid of it.
How to Overcome Fear
There was a study done on patients who requested that the doctors end their life. Since doing so is seen as immoral, the doctors approached this in an interesting way. What they did was give the patients the power to end their own life by giving them access to some pills that would slowly but painlessly kill them. Instead of administering the pills, the doctors would simply place it in a drawer within reach of the patient and told them that if they really wanted to end their life, they could just take the pill.
It turned out that none of the patients took the pill. In fact, the pills were just sugar pills. The point of this study was to find out if the patients really wanted to die and if so, why? They found out that it wasn’t the fear of death that caused these patients to request the doctors to end their life; it was the fear that dying would be painful. As time went by, the patients realized that the pain was tolerable and so they decided not to take the pills.
Overcoming Fear – Flying Example
The way to overcome fear is through action. Let me explain by going back to the fear of flying example. If you have this fear or just the fear of heights, does that mean you are afraid of falling? At first glance, it would seem so wouldn’t it? However, what if you were in a plane and that actually started to fall down? Would you be afraid of the plane falling? Probably not because you would be more afraid of the plane crashing. Let’s say the plane just crashed. Are you still afraid of the plane crashing? You wouldn’t be because it had already happened.
You will mostly go from the fear of flying to the fear of pain. Now your focus is on whether the crash is going to cause you a lot of pain. Let’s say you are in pain but it’s bearable. Your fear is no longer of pain but now, it may be of dying.
What’s the point of all of this? The point is that in each stage of the example above, you “overcame fear” by experiencing it. In other words, you can overcome fear simply by doing what you fear most. Let’s take a look at a more realistic example. Sorry for the image above.
Overcoming Fear – Speaking Example
If you have a fear of speaking in public, then think about the last time you had to give a speech. Most likely, you were pretty nervous during the hours leading up to the speech. You were thinking about going up in front of an audience and that scared you. Now think about the moment right before you are going to walk up the stage. You will probably have a fear of walking up on the stage but once you do it, that fear will subside.
Your next fear is the fear of standing in front of an audience and having everyone look at you but once you are already standing up there, you fear will now be the fear of beginning your speech. Once you start talking, your fear may now be the fear of being laughed at or messing up.
As you are finishing your speech, your fear may be the fear of not getting a good response from the audience but once you are done and people applaud you, your fear of actually speaking is gone because you have already taken that action. This is how you overcome fear of public speaking.
Overcoming Fear by Taking Action
As I mentioned before, in order to overcome fear, you need to take action. As you take action, you will begin to realize that by not taking action, your fear will only grow. By prolonging action, you are only going to make the fear stronger. This is why if you’re the last one in the group to do something such as give a speech, it’s more nerve wrecking than if you had gone first or second. The longer you wait, the harder it will be.
If you are afraid to do something, the best way to overcome it is to just do it. It may not be the easiest thing to take action in the face of fear but the more you do it, the easier it will get. Remember, 99% of the time, the horrible outcomes you imagined in your mind that created that feeling of fear inside of you in the first place won’t even come true. Free yourself from this fear and start creating the life you truly deserve. Overcoming fear is something that you can get better at with practice. Life is way too short to let your self created fears rob you of a life you truly deserve. Take control.
Until next time…
Love Life. Do Good. Live Well.
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