We all have fears — fears that keep us from embracing the lives we want. Indeed, it is that which stands between success and true failure.
Defeating our fears is not an easy feat. Because it is often a battle against one’s own mind. Unfortunately, this treacherous adversary cannot be “reasoned with” and fighting is the only way; the only way to get to the other side. As Jack Canfield said: “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
Below I outline 13 ways to conquer your fear. These are by no means exhaustive but if practiced are sure to change your life.
So here goes.
1. Know thine Enemy
In every battle, knowing the enemy is the foundational step. It enables you assess the nature of that enemy. I remember times in my chemistry class where knowing the name of the compound gives a good ballpark regarding its reactivity, melting and boiling points among others.
That is what knowing your fear is gives you — information. And information is crucial in devising a winning strategy. So… “what are your afraid of?”. Take a moment to figure it out.
Now that you know what you fear, it is time to explore “the why”. This furnishes you with what underlies your fear or what that fear means. Like Deepak Chopra advises : “If you try to get rid of fear and anger without knowing their meaning, they will grow stronger and return.”
2. Knowledge is Power
Now that you know what your fear is and why it persists, you need to know how to bring it under our control. And that phase requires more information.
“Ignorance is the parent of fear.” ~ Herman Melville
Fears develop through lack of knowledge or better still incomplete knowledge about a subject. It is true, that the more you know about something, the less you fear.
The prescription here is simple; you must increase your knowledge regarding what we fear. This can be done through reading of books on the subject or learning from true life stories of how people with similar fears conquered them.
3. Take the Plunge, Take Action
Now to the real deal! Although this is not an easy one, it is a crucial step in the battle against one’s fears. Practice what you fear. Like they say, just do it!
Most people find out that what they feared never came to pass.
4. Strive For Progress Not Perfection
Like they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It is unrealistic to expect our fears to be gone in days or sometimes weeks when they have sometimes been with us for decades. If there was a way to visibly see our fears with our eyes, they would most likely be towering monsters — monsters we have fed till this day. These monsters will require more than a day or weeks effort to starve to death. Know that every little effort counts and progress is paramount not perfection.
5. Perfection is a Killer
Yes, a bloody vicious killer! Perfection has resulted in projects that never got off the ground. Though often mistaken, perfection is not the opposite of mediocrity. You can do good, excellent work without it being perfect. Perfection denotes “done”. No improvement needed. Mastery is preferred because it makes room for learning and improvement — perfection doesn’t. In a fast paced, changing world, perfection cannot compete.
Aim for mastery, eschew perfection and you will be content. As Leo Tolstoy has said:
“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”
6. Change the Way You Think of Failure
Look! Chances are, that the first attempt you make at facing your fear will result in a catastrophic failure. What do you do then? Do you give up or keep moving? My advice is to think of that failure as “not having worked this time”. As stated by the Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
7. Reward Process
I count myself fortunate to have listened to the TED Talk by Carol Dweck on believing we can improve. In her delivery, she speaks about rewarding process: Effort, Strategy and Progress. This ensures that we stay motivated and recognize we are still on the path to success.
The end goal is not only what matters.
8. The Environment Matters
“People tend to be generous when sharing their nonsense, fear, and ignorance. And while they seem quite eager to feed you their negativity, please remember that sometimes the diet we need to be on is a spiritual and emotional one. Be cautious with what you feed your mind and soul. Fuel yourself with positivity and let that fuel propel you into positive action.” ― Steve Maraboli
The quote says it all. Be careful of what you feed on and where you obtain nourishment. Being in a positive environment is crucial to getting ahead in life. How positive is your environment? Who are those you have surrounded yourself with? Imagine a rice plant in a desert environment … it will struggle to survive! The desert does not hold the conditions beneficial for its survival and growth. Take a look around. Is your environment conducive for where you want to go?
9. The Opinions of Others
This is what I have realized. People are having a hard time finding their own paths and it is absurd if you have to depend on them to find yours. Live your life, live your own reality and take responsibility. You most definitely know more about you than anyone could. That inner voice…it is the truth you seek. Roy T. Bennett offers more insight:
“Don’t let the expectations and opinions of other people affect your decisions. It’s your life, not theirs. Do what matters most to you; do what makes you feel alive and happy. Don’t let the expectations and ideas of others limit who you are. If you let others tell you who you are, you are living their reality — not yours. There is more to life than pleasing people.
10. Embrace Responsibility
“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” ― Sigmund Freud
Being free involves taking responsibility for your decisions and choices. The era of blaming others for your predicament should come to an end. If you want to leave the shackles of fear and be free, you must take responsibility for your life: the good, the bad and the ugly.
11. Be Patient
Is there another way to say this? Patience is a virtue for true success. Ralph Waldo Emerson refers to it as “nature’s secret”.
“Why is patience so important?” “Because it makes us pay attention.” — Paulo Coelho
12. Take Care of Your Body: Eat well and exercise
This may sound like a no-brainer. But, in fighting your fears, you will need both your mind and your body. What use is a healthy mind, when you have no body to execute with.
The body is as important as the mind. Take care of it.
13. Faith /Spiritual Anchor
Truth is, I feel more disillusioned whenever I do not pray. Many successful people non- religious people inculcate meditation into the daily living. It is a way to communicate with one’s spirit — to tell it things will be fine. Usually, our spirits have some insights to give us too.
To each his own. Find what works for you.
Ensuring your spirit man is well fed alongside your body and mind will augur well in the fight against your fears.
“The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear” — Aung San Suu Kyi
You can conquer your fears. You have what it takes to get yourself out of that prison. Set yourself free!
by Helen Menyeh