When you read the title “How to overcome fears? Face them!” you might say; “well, if I could face my fears, I wouldn’t google for advice”. You are right! We all know that we need to face our fears to overcome them but we might not know-how.
Just like any other challenge in life, the most effective way to face our fears is to know them first. We need to know what we are afraid of and why. What is the reason not to be able to do what we want to do? What happens if we face our fears? What could possibly go wrong? And what is the reward when we finally do what we really intend to do?
But first we need to know what fear is. Or what makes us to feel afraid or scared.
What is fear?
Based on Wikipedia;
Fear is an emotion induced by perceived danger or threat, which causes physiological changes and ultimately behavioral changes, such as mounting an aggressive response or fleeing the threat. Fear in human beings may occur in response to a certain stimulus occurring in the present, or in anticipation or expectation of a future threat perceived as a risk to oneself.
Fear is useful!
Fear is a mechanism that protects human beings from potential dangers. In fact, humans have been able to survive so many dangers and difficult situations because of this emotion.
Humans learned to run as fast as they can when they see a tiger in the middle of the jungle. If not they would be eaten alive. They learned how to fight when they face a wild animal. There are so many other examples to show what a potential danger is and how the human body responds in order to protect us.
So, fear is useful. Fear is here to protect us so we can live long and safe.
What’s behind fear?
Fear is not always caused by a possible physical danger. What modern people are more afraid of these days is not physical danger but is psychological danger. We try to protect ourselves from feeling disappointed, humiliated, or heartbroken. We don’t take that exam because we don’t want to fail. We don’t express ourselves because we think our opinions might not be accepted or not good enough. We don’t attend meetings or seminars because we’re afraid of speaking in public. We don’t want to feel embarrassed if it doesn’t go as we expected.
But what we need to focus on to be able to analyze our fears and find a way to fight with them is to know “Why are we afraid of failure”?
We are afraid of failure because we don’t trust in our abilities. Fear is coming from a psychological danger that may hurt our feelings and confidence.
Fear or phobia?
What is phobia? Based on Wikipedia;
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder defined by a persistent and excessive fear of an object or situation. Phobias typically result in a rapid onset of fear and are present for more than six months.
The most common are fear of spiders, fear of snakes, and fear of heights.
If you think you are suffering from a phobia, it’s a good idea to talk to a specialist and get help from experts.
Know what you are afraid of
If we want to get over our fears we need to find out what exactly we’re afraid of. I recommend you get a pen and paper and write down your fears. Then read the following questions one by one and try to find honest answers for them. I say honest answers because one of the fear mechanism’s job is to protect us from danger. Our mind could try to get away from the answer which causes pain.
To get the best result, when you answer the question ask yourself if it’s the real answer. The following questions will help us to understand the situation better and as a result, guide us to find a way to get over our fears.
Imagine your biggest fear;
- What am I afraid of?
- Why am I afraid of it?
- What would be the effect of it in my life if I don’t do anything about it (short term and long term)?
- Why don’t I want to face it?
- What is the worst thing that could happen if I try to face it?
- What do I lose if I fail?
- What would happen if I fail?
- How do I feel about myself if I don’t do anything about it?
- How do I feel about myself if I try and I fail?
Now, you have a good idea of what your fear is. What is behind your fear and what would happen if you decide to ignore your fear or if you try to face it and fail?
Next step is to see the other side of the situation. Grab another paper and answer following questions:
- What if I face my fear and overcome it?
- How do I feel about myself?
- What could change in my life when I overcome my fear (short-term and long-term)?
- What good things do I achieve and what bad things do I lose?
- Will this success help me overcome other fears?
- Will this success help me to have a better life?
You could add more questions if you find more. Every person is different and unique. Our lives are unique. So, feel free to make your own list of questions and picture what could possibly go wrong and what the worst scenario would be. Also, how things could change for the best in your life when you face your fears and overcome them.
By doing this, you could picture your situation now and after you change it. It will help you to know yourself and your fears better.
Fear grows with time!
When we encounter a challenge in our life, we have generally two options; get scared and run away or analyze it and see how we can overcome it.
The first option is the easiest. Although there’s no growth, no result, no reward, and no satisfaction. Instead, we feel less brave and lose a little bit of our confidence every time we run away from our fears.
The second option is the right one but the hard one. We learn what exists on the other side of the wall of fears. We learn and we grow. Most importantly, we get more confident about our abilities.
Do not hesitate too much before you take action because fear grows fast and could paralyze you before you even realize it. Fear can spread and give birth to other fears. So, make sure you do something before it gets harder and harder to defeat.
But remember, everything can change when you decide to change.
How to face your fears? Take small steps!
When you know your fears and the reason or reasons behind them, it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to act, time to face them.
Start from small steps. Just like babies who learn to walk. Every small step you take, even if you fall, gives you the courage to go further. For example, if you are afraid of speaking in public, start with a group of two or three. When you feel comfortable with that, you make the next step and try a bigger audience.
Celebrate your success
Every time you succeed even if it’s small, celebrate it. Encourage yourself! Buy yourself a coffee, a book, or do something special as a gift to yourself. It gives you the feeling of victory even if it might look so small. Remember, those small steps grow into a big success.
Last but not least,
Love yourself for who you are!