“There is no illusion greater than fear.” ― Lao Tzu
Fear can be either a great motivator, or a fierce road block. It can paralyze you professionally and even keep you from achieving your dreams.
But were you aware that fear can actually make you sick?
Whenever your mind and body experience fear, your fight-or-flight response kicks in. This trauma can physically disable your body’s natural self-repair mechanisms–what we need to ward off illness. Overcoming fear isn’t something that happens instantly or automatically. It is the conscious and deliberate action of doing those things that scare you.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 19 million people in the United States alone suffer from mental illnesses that involve irrational fear responses. These disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Fear distorts real life and makes it almost impossible to render logical decisions. Making it difficult to face life’s most challenging problems–money, relationships, health, spirituality, work, and many others.
If you want to eliminate your negative thoughts, worries and anxieties, use these techniques to empower yourself and make the changes that will help you feel more relaxed, energized, healthier and happier. Used alone or in combination, these methods will not only expand your horizons, but help you move on to bigger and better things.
Just as most of your fears were learned (aside from loud noises and bright lights as a newborn), you can also learn to conquer them.
Learn More About What You Fear
The better you’re able to understand what you fear, the better your chances of feeling less anxious about it. You might learn that what initially caused your fear is no longer relevant.
“With a fear of flying, knowing that the wheels will go “bump” when they are retracted, understanding that it is normal to experience mild turbulence, and even peeking at the accident statistics for airplane flight (hundreds of millions of flight miles with barely any accidents), can really help,” says Jeff Guardalabene, a clinical psychologist in Portland, Oregon.
The Cost-Benefit Analysis
Making a list of the advantages and disadvantages of avoiding what you fear and worry about, as well as a second list of the advantages and disadvantages of confronting your fears, will help you determine the best route. Assessing your fears to establish whether they are helpful or harmful is a healthy practice. Often times, fear may show up as a valuable intuition, but it can also just lead to self-sabotage.
As a child, do you remember playing “make believe”? Surprisingly, using this same technique and utilizing your imagination can create the outcome you desire. By substituting peaceful and reassuring images for the ones that make you feel incredibly anxious, you can actually visualize yourself conquering your fear. Run these scenarios over and over again in your mind until it becomes second nature.
Take Small Steps
Challenging yourself to raise the bar every day can help break a big, daunting task into bite-sized portions. It’s far easier to slowly work your way up the ladder than attempting to vertically run up each step.
If you have a very deep-seated fear, seeing a therapist for guided visualization or hypnosis is recommended. Clinical psychologists say that these techniques help keep you in a relaxed state so you feel safe and secure while facing the feared place or object.
Surround Yourself with Positive, Courageous People
You truly are the company you keep. If you happen to constantly surround yourself with people who are fearful of life, those fears will be unintentionally projected onto you. But when you have positive influences in your life and engage with those who take risks, you’ll feel more inspired to go out in the world and be brave.