What are you scared of? Everybody has some fears and worries – as humans, we’re programmed to feel fear as a natural response to threats in order to protect and look after ourselves.
But, what happens when your fears begin to take over? Fear can control your life and keep you from following your dreams, prevent you from taking risks, and stop you from living the life that you want and doing the things which you desire.
It doesn’t have to be this way! Fear can hold many people back, and one of the biggest mistakes that you might be making right now is taking your fear at face value.
What you need to understand is that fear can be both real or imagined, and it’s hard for your body and brain to differentiate between the two. Let’s look at two different situations to put this in perspective.
Imagine that there’s an angry bull racing towards you, and you’re wearing a red t-shirt. This would be real fear. You have every reason to be scared if you’re being charged at by a furious horned animal!
Now, imagine that you’ve just turned the lights off after watching a particularly scary horror movie. You know that you’re absolutely safe in your home, but you still can’t shift that nauseous feeling in your gut when you think about some of the scenes from the movie. This fear is imagined.
Fear can be a product of two different things – it’s either due to reality, or a product of your imagination. In general, real fear will be felt by both you and others around you, and imagined fear will be personal to you alone. Imagined fear is generated by your beliefs and individual perspective of the world, which is why some people have fears which are completely incomprehensible to others.
For example, a person who fell into a lake as a small child may have a fear of water even into adulthood, whilst somebody who’s never had a scary experience with water could be a professional swimmer with absolutely no fear of scuba diving in the sea. This is because water in and of itself isn’t something to be fearful of, but your personal experience could make it scary for you.
In general, the fears which hold us back are these imagined fears which are personal to each and every one of us. Just because they’re imagined, however, doesn’t mean that they’re not real – they certainly feel very real to the person who is feeling them.
Conquering the fears which are holding you back relies on you getting down to the source. Discovering what causes your fears is key to facing them head on and taking control of your own life and happiness. Figuring out what you need to do to push your fears out of your life and no longer allow them to hold you back will involve putting everything into perspective and sifting out the irrational fears from the rational ones.
Once you know where it is that your fears come from and how to deal with them, you’ll become a braver and stronger person. Fear and anxiety can severely hold you back, and taking the steps to gain control over them and no longer allow them to rule your life is a process which will take time, effort and patience – but it will all be worth it in the end.
In this post, you’ll learn how to:
Identify the causes of your fears;
Determine which fears are rational and which are not;
Swap your negative thoughts for positive ones;
Challenge yourself to take risks;
Use talking therapy to help you control your emotions, and
Practice daily meditation to reduce stress.
Before you begin, it’s vital to understand that you will need to be patient with yourself. Fear is an extremely strong emotion, and the ‘fight or flight’ response generated by chemicals and hormones in the body can lead to different physical responses which can make facing and conquering your fears extremely difficult.
When you decide to conquer your fears, you need to be aware of what this entails – at some point, you will need to face them. Although the prospect of this is initially terrifying for many, by the time you are ready it won’t seem quite as bad. This is why it’s important to be patient with yourself and resolve to take small steps towards achieving your goal of fearlessness.
Being kind to yourself is crucial when you are learning to conquer your fears, although you’ll need to get a healthy balance between self-care and self-motivation. Finding the balance between the two will involve changing your mindset to include more confidence in yourself and a kinder attitude towards yourself and your feelings. Many of us beat ourselves up for feeling fears that we deem irrational; it’s crucial that you stop doing this and instead accept your fears rather than trying to fight them.
Accepting your fears is the crucial first step that you will need to take before trying any of the following strategies. Fighting a mental battle against your-self and your fears can make it significantly more difficult to gain any positive benefits from any of these strategies, which is why learning to be accepting is key. Learning to accept your fears can even create a sense of calm and positivity which you can’t gain from fighting them.
Take a deep breath, and tell yourself that you accept all of your fears – even the ones that you think are silly. Repeat this process as many times as you need throughout your journey to fearlessness!
Searching the Source of Your Fears
Determining the source of your fears and anxieties is the first step that you will need to take in order to eventually be able to take control of your fears and manage them efficiently.
You should also be aware that you may need to revisit some unhappy memories, therefore it’s vital to choose a time when you are feeling calm, relaxed and energized before you begin to explore the reasons for your fear.
Discovering the reasons for your fear can also help to improve your confidence. For many people, not quite knowing why they’re scared of something can lead to even more feelings of fear – have you ever been scared of fear itself? This is why it’s important to invest time to delve deep into your memories to discover the sources of your fears, even the worst ones.
In order to discover the source of your fears, it’s important to self-evaluate. This process involves asking yourself a number of different questions, such as what your biggest fears are, what triggers feelings of fear and anxiety in you and which memories invoke the most anxious feelings in you.
The process may be difficult and could take some time as you unearth memories that you may not want to remember, therefore it’s important to take your time, be kind to yourself and give yourself a lot of self-love. You may find it helpful to go through this process with a trusted friend, family member, or even a professional therapist.
An easy way to help you to determine the source of your fears is to write them all down on paper. No matter how small or insignificant you may believe your fears to be, list them all down in front of you, in order of the worst to the least.
Then, write down what you think may be the source of your fears next to them. For example, if you are afraid of driving due to being in an accident, write ‘driving – traffic accident’. If you come to a fear and you’re not sure why you feel it, don’t worry – just concentrate on the ones which you can determine the source of for now.
When it comes to the source of fear, there can be a range of different rea-sons. You may feel fear due to something that you have experienced yourself or a traumatic experience which you have been through. If you have been through a frightening experience, it’s highly likely that you’ll feel fear as a response to a similar situation or in fact anything which reminds you of it.
This is why it’s important to write down the different things which trigger feelings of fear in you, as memories can stick around even from the earliest years of childhood – it’s not uncommon for people to still experience fear as a response to something reminding them of a situation that they experienced as a young child.
Along with things which you have experienced, other people’s experiences and fears can also contribute to your own emotions and determine what you are fearful of. You may find yourself fearful of certain things even if you yourself have no reason to be as the result of influence from somebody who you are close with.
Take this as an example. Let’s imagine a little girl who is bitten by a dog. Al-though she is not seriously hurt, the incident is painful and quite traumatic for her, and because of it she develops a fear of dogs which remains with her as she grows up and she remains scared of dogs well into her adult life.
As an adult, she has a child. Still fearful of dogs, she won’t let her child play with any dogs and crosses to the other side of the road with her child if she sees a dog walker approaching. Because of this fear, her child learns that dogs are to be feared; subsequently growing up scared of dogs themselves even though they have not personally had a bad experience with any dogs at all.
Think about some of your fears – do you feel them because of a parent or sibling who does? Growing up, was your mom or dad scared of flying, going to the dentist, or did an older sibling display fears of a certain animal because of a bad experience that they had? Some fears can be learned from others, and it is important to distinguish these learned fears from the fears which you have developed due to your own experiences.
It’s important to understand that this type of fear is normal – just because something hasn’t happened to you directly, understanding how it feels due to being close to someone who has experienced it is likely to invoke feelings of fear and anxiety in many of us.
You might also develop feelings of fear and anxiety for the other person who you are close to – for instance going back to the car crash example, you may feel fear for your friend when they begin to start driving their car again. Again, this is normal and part of having a healthy relationship with somebody who you are close to.
However, it’s important to understand that if your fears grow, you could end up holding both yourself and the other person back from living life to its full potential and successfully recovering from the traumatic experience which you saw them have.
Tackling All Your Fears
Even if some fears aren’t taking over your life and are not at the point of holding you or others in your life back, it’s a good idea to list them all so that you can decide which fears need working on and which ones you are at a healthy point with.
Knowing which fears you are dealing with in a healthy manner can also help to serve as an example for what you want to achieve with the fears which are causing more problems for you.
When tackling your worst fears, it’s helpful to be aware of the things you do when faced with the fears that you manage well so that you can make the effort to consciously implement these strategies.
It’s common knowledge that some fears are more rational than others, but we still feel the irrational fears nonetheless. Describing these fears as ‘irrational’ does not, however, mean to say that the fear is not ‘real’ or that it’s ‘wrong’ to feel such a fear.
Irrational fears tend to be personal to an individual and can often feel just as bad, if not worse than many fears which would be described as ‘rational’.
A big mistake that many people make is thinking that their ‘irrational’ fears are silly. When you are determining the causes of your fears, it’s crucial that you don’t overlook any fears which you think are not really a big deal or something that you shouldn’t really be scared of.
After all, it’s often the irrational fears which hold us back the most. Be kind to yourself, and be assured that no fears should be embarrassing – usually, there’s a good reason for why you feel them.
Rational fears are fears of real, possible consequences – fears of genuine danger. For example, a person with a fear of heights – or indeed even a person who isn’t scared of heights – would never jump of a high cliff, as such a jump could potentially be highly dangerous.
Some fears have a finer line between the rational and irrational. For example, if you are afraid of spiders this could be both rational or irrational depending on the type of spider. Whilst there are dangerous spiders in the world, for the most part spiders tend to be relatively harmless.
Once you have identified a spider as being harmless, any remaining fear of the particular spider becomes irrational. On the other hand, if a spider is identified as dangerous, it would be perfectly rational to be fearful of it.
When you are determining whether or not your fears are rational or irrational, it’s vital that you understand that irrational fears are no less real than their rational counterparts. No matter how irrational a fear may be, it still has the capacity to affect us in a physical way, causing shaking, nausea, sweating or shivering.
In order to truly overcome your irrational fears, you will need to learn to accept them, feeling embarrassed of them will do nothing but hold you back. Instead, it’s crucial that you understand that there is nothing wrong with irrational fears; no matter how silly they may seem to you they are both normal and perfectly acceptable.
Shyness is something which very often crosses the line of both the irrational and rational when it comes to fear. For example, a bullied schoolchild or employee may feel perfectly rational fear when speaking to a classmate or coworker – the fear that they feel is backed up by their past experiences which prove that it almost always doesn’t end well.
However, what may well be rational arguments when approaching some people may become irrational with others.
Take for instance a child who is bullied at school – fear of speaking to the perpetrators may be completely rational, however it will become irrational when the child begins to feel fearful of speaking to almost anybody, including people who have always treated them kindly.
Irrational fears very often start off as perfectly rational fears which eventually grow out of proportion and become irrational in many different situations. This is important to understand when you are determining which of your fears are rational and which are not.
For example, if you were teased as a child at school, your fears to speak to classmates then was both justified and rational. However, still experiencing this fear as an adult when speaking to coworkers or others who have never teased or made fun of you means that you fear has crossed the line over into the irrational.
Understanding that irrational fears often have a rational source is vital when you’re trying to develop a better knowledge of your fears in order to accept and conquer them.
Tackling Irrational Fears
When you begin to tackle your irrational fears, it’s vital to build up your confidence with baby steps. If you’re terrified of speaking in public it is probably not going to be of much use to you if you force yourself to make a speech or presentation in front of hundreds of people.
However, practicing in safe environments that have no consequences no matter how you perform can help you to build up your confidence and eradicate your fears. For example, speaking in front of supportive friends or family members can help you realize that public speaking isn’t all that bad and provide you with the confidence that you need to speak in front of more important audiences.
Self-confidence is often the key to conquering fears such as the fear of public speaking, which is why it’s important to determine which fears stem from a lack of confidence in yourself. Then, work on your self-confidence – improving it will help you greatly when it comes to conquering this type of fear.
The Power of Positive Thinking
Fear is one of the biggest contributors to thinking negatively in life. Fear can cause us to always see the bad side of situations and constantly expect the worse, resulting in our living a less fulfilled life than we hoped for and even holding us back from achieving our dreams.
Fear can stop us doing plenty of different things that we’d love to do – for example, maybe you have always wanted to visit Europe, but your fear of flying gets in the way each time you try to get on the plane. The negative thoughts regarding air travel are stronger than the positive ones about touring Europe, eventually taking control and limiting you to what you can do with your life.
Switching your negative thoughts for positive ones is a process which may take a lot of time. Some people are naturally more optimistic than others; but even the most optimistic people on earth can still find themselves thinking in an extremely negative manner when it comes to their fears and anxieties.
Saying ‘thank you’ is one of the simplest and easiest things which we can do, often resulting in people saying it mindlessly without taking a minute to step back and practice real gratitude. Practicing gratitude daily can help you create a more positive mindset and completely transform your attitude towards life.
In and of itself, practicing gratitude won’t suddenly transform you into a fearless person. But it can have a significant effect on your fears by giving you the means to become more positive and think more optimistically about a range of different situations. When you practice gratitude you become a happier person, and naturally the positive thoughts will follow.
Practicing gratitude helps us to see situations in a more optimistic manner, lessens panic and also invokes feelings of empathy whilst lessening feelings of regret, envy, jealousy and even fear. Practicing gratitude enables you to see situations that once may have been scary for you in a more positive light, minimizing the negative thoughts and anxiety which you feel.
When you begin to work on practicing gratitude, it’s important that you do it for the right reasons. Forcing yourself to feel grateful for things simply because you hope that it will diminish your fear will have no real effect, and the majority of the time you’ll be faking it – which won’t have any effect on your fears at all, unfortunately.
Instead, learn to practice gratitude in order to become truly thankful for what you have. Put aside thoughts of your fears, and see becoming a more grateful person as something completely separate from your goal of conquering your fears.
In time, your newly positive mindset will naturally contribute towards helping you view your fears in a more optimistic light, subsequently enabling you to be in a better position to overcome them.
When you’re trying to conquer your fears, there is no reason why you should be going it alone. Fear is a very difficult thing to overcome, and achieving your goal of fearlessness is significantly harder if the fears which are holding you back stem from traumatic experiences in your life.
This is why you should never say no to accepting help when you’re trying to overcome your fear. Help doesn’t always mean speaking to your doctor or a psychologist – you can find a lot of help and support from friends and family members who are willing to do what it takes to assist you in conquer-ing your fears and gaining control over your anxiety.
Talking therapy is one of the best remedies for many different emotional and mental issues, with fear being one of them. For a large number of people, getting the things which scare and worry them off their chest and out in the open provides a lot of relief and can help to alleviate the burden significantly.
Steer clear of anyone who is likely to mock your fears – choose friends or family members who have an understanding attitude and an open mind, who you can trust to give you the support you need and have your back.
Another type of therapy which you can use to help you conquer your fears is image therapy. There are many different uses for image therapy, and it has helped many people to conquer conditions such as body dysmorphia, conquer phobias, and enabled people to achieve some of their main goals in life.
Picture how you’d like to be, facing a situation which you are fearful of without succumbing to your fears. For ex-ample, if you’re scared of dogs, picture yourself petting a cute and cuddly puppy.
The more you do this, the more appealing the idea may become. Looking at cute, happy pictures of dogs – there are loads online! – might also help you to overcome this fear. Of course, pictures aren’t the real thing, but the more you expose yourself to them, the better chance you will have of realizing that the subject of your fears isn’t actually all that scary.
Challenge Yourself Everyday
Once you have begun to accept your fears, discovered their sources and started practicing different strategies and techniques to help yourself think more positively on the journey to being fearless, you’ll also need to begin to challenge yourself.
Challenging yourself doesn’t mean that you’ll need to immediately walk straight into a situation that is terrifying for you – in fact, quite the opposite. Learning to effectively challenge yourself to do something should begin with challenges that you’re not afraid of taking on, and slowly work yourself up to a level where you are comfortable challenging yourself to face your fears.
The Meditation Challenge
First of all, you should challenge yourself to take steps to improve your life and well-being as a whole.
The first challenge that you should be facing is ‘The Meditation Challenge’. Daily meditation is far from scary, in fact it is highly effective in helping to reduce stress, alleviate fear, and make you feel happier and healthier over-all.
When you meditate, you learn to become more connected to everything around you, and in turn you’ll be less fearful of the things that you face in your everyday life.
You can also check our recommended Meditation for Manifestation By clicking here.
Now you have all the information that you need to help you on your way to becoming fearless and unstoppable.
The first thing that you’ll need to do once you finish this article, is come up with a plan of action. Your plan of action should include everything that you’ve learned so far, along with anything personal to yourself which you think will help you achieve your goals of fearlessness and confidence.
Think of your plan of action as a step-by-step guide to help you in your daily life.
You could even set it up as a daily timetable to stick to in order to make sure that you’re doing everything that you can. For example, it could go something like this:
Morning: Meditate for fifteen minutes, write list of things which you’re thank-ful for today, and look at pictures that help you.
Afternoon: Talk to a close friend about your plans and your progress, and write another list of everything that you’re thankful for today. Make sure to show gratitude to at least one person!
Evening: Challenge yourself to do something you’ve never done before, even if it’s something really small. Search for survivor blogs online to read stories of how other people have overcome their worst fears as a way of motivating yourself. Before bed, write another list of everything that you’re thankful for.
This is just an example – the one which you lay out for yourself might be completely different. The most important thing is that your plan of action is something which you can follow daily and which includes activities which will help you develop a more positive, confident mindset.
The truth is, fears are a very personal thing – and conquering your fears will be something that is extremely personal to you.