The key to change… is to let go of fear.
Fear is the primary obstacle that keeps most people from pursuing what they want. Think about all of the things you would try if you were assured success. How different would your life be? Conquering fear is perhaps the most important self-development goal anyone could achieve.
Here are a few strategies to help you kick fear to the curb and get what you really want:
1. Realize what fear really is. Realize that fear is a just a name that you have given to a particular physical feeling. Fear really is more of a psychologically created construct.
2. Fear is there to serve you, not to guide you. It can be useful to think of fear as a message from your subconscious mind. The message says, “Hey, we think something might be wrong.” It is then your job to rationally determine if there really is something to be concerned about.
- Hanging of the side of a cliff would be a legitimate cause for concern in most cases. In this case, your life may be in danger so there is something to fear.
- However, being afraid of speaking to a group of people may be uncomfortable, but there is no real danger of dying. What is the worst that could happen other than a little embarrassment if it does not go well?
3. Build your bravery “muscle.” Each time you push through your fear, your fear-conquering muscle gets stronger. Unfortunately, the opposite is equally true. Every time you avoid taking an action because of your fear, you are strengthening your fear.
- Psychologists call this type of avoidance negative reinforcement. This is just a fancy way of referring to avoidance being psychologically rewarding. If you run away from the scary thing, you do feel better.
- While you may feel better at first, it also increases the fear felt the next time in a similar situation.
- If you avoid what frightens you, your brain realizes the fear manipulated you and will use the same strategy against you the next time.
4. Focus on what you want. Keep the desired end result in mind. No human is capable of thinking of two things simultaneously. You may be able to switch back and forth between several things rapidly, but that is not the same thing. Only focus on your goal and it is impossible to feel the fear. This is, of course, easier said than done, but that is what meditation really is: the ability to focus on something to the exclusion of everything else.
5. Just get started! The hardest part of facing your fear is getting started. Avoid getting bogged down with the details. Most people never get out of the planning stage. Take the first step, and the next step will reveal itself.
6. Remember that you have already done more difficult things. Consider how long it took you to learn to walk and talk. If you can learn to do those things, you can certainly learn how to face and eliminate your fears. Be confident in yourself and you will succeed.
In this day and age, fear has limited usefulness. We live in a civilized society where most of us are safe and secure. We no longer have to live in caves and fear the wild animals lurking outside.
Fear is more of a state of mind. If you let it, fear will hold you back.
Let today be the day that you stop using fear as an excuse and go after what you really want!