When was the last time you did something scary? Scary can fall into many categories, it’s something different for each of us and we really hate talking about it. It makes us kind of uncomfortable to admit that we, just like everyone else, have fears that we need to step up to. And still, a lot of times we fail to do that because we’re just too busy or we simply don’t want to have any of it right now.
The thing is, most often life manages to surprise us by throwing at us the very things we feel most uncomfortable around. Don’t ask me how, your guess is as good as mine there! I’m sure it’s happened to you as well: all of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of a situation you’ve been dreading, consciously or not. And what happens then? What do you do? Most likely you’ll feel totally backed against a wall and it’s very easy for your fear to kick in: the sense that something might hurt you (in one way or another) can get very real very fast. In times like these it’s important to know what to do with this fear and actually be able to do it.
For me it’s always best to know your opponent well, before you step into the ring. This is to say to remember that, for the most part, your fear is actually a pretty useful thing: without fear we’d jump head-first into all kinds of risks that might be mentally or even physically dangerous. We would repeatedly take meaningless risks because we just would not have the ability to detect the subtle signs of danger (whatever form it might be in). And we’d probably not survive for very long. Fear is useful because it protects us from the dangers of the world and, most often, from ourselves. What you’re afraid of causes you discomfort, which then makes you keep your distance from whatever it is that causes it. Fear is also a teacher: what we fear can tell us a lot about ourselves; our tastes and our personal limits are identified by what we’d do anything to avoid. In this case, asking yourself why you experience fear can give you a pretty good idea of who you are in each part of your life because, as we grow and change, our fears do as well.
That being said, what do you do after you’ve gotten to know your fears? There are many ways we each deal with our fears every day and each of us has probably developed our own personal techniques to overcome our fears. Below are some of the most effective ways I’ve found one could use to overcome fear; it’s the basics of my personal fear-fighting arsenal. Enjoy!
- Evaluate your life. You’d be surprised at how often we live in a world that eases fear into our lives. The news you hear every day about tragedy, accidents and the footage you see of scared people? They all leave a hardly-visible impression in your subconscious that opens the doors for fear. The people you surround yourself with, who are afraid of that big meeting coming up tomorrow or who the next president will be? Same thing. Notice and consciously detach yourself from the things around you that emphasize your fear in general. Surround yourself with people that encourage you, take time to search out and educate yourself in the advancements of modern times, teach yourself to focus on the positive, uplifting things.
- Practice. Making it a point to demolish some small fears on a regular basis can do wonders in the battle against our bigger fears. Being able to stand up to your fears is pretty much like a muscle: if you train it and develop it, you’ll be able to access it more easily whenever you really need to. Teach yourself through practice to overcome what scares you one day at a time: start small and cultivate the feeling that you’ve got this.
- Learn. What I’ve found is that the things that scare us are often the ones we don’t understand. Consciously learning about what it is that causes your fear will help you understand it better. And understanding, on the other hand, will make the fear seem drastically smaller and manageable. Keeping yourself informed will also let you learn about ways other people have used to cope with what stresses you as well. And learning form others’ experience is always a plus in overcoming our own fears.