“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.”
~ Fulton Oursler
How to overcome fear. I imagine that is a wish for many people in life, probably all of us if truth be told and we were honest with ourselves. Listen, everyone has been scared in their lives and I imagine that everyone still experiences some fear now and then.
The key that helps a lot of people overcome fear is courage. And we’ll talk a lot about courage here in a minute. But let me just reassure you, that from my own experience of being handcuffed by the shackles of fear, fear can be overcome.
In order for me to be of help to you in overcoming fears yourself I need to be honest and upfront with you about the fears that I have had to conquer.
I have had to learn how to overcome fear of public speaking, how to overcome fear of heights as well as of overcoming my fear of death and also learn how to conquer fear of rejection.
I have managed to overcome these fears and others because I made the choice that I didn’t want to be controlled by my fears and anxieties. Now the title of this article is how to overcome fear, it is not how to eliminate fear from your life.
Fear is necessary and in many respects healthy. So the first thing we need to do is embrace our fear and become friends with it.
1. Fear as your friend
I know this might be weird to start off an article about how to master fear but hear me out. Before you can learn to defeat fear you have to learn about it and embrace its good aspects.
Fear is important in many regards. When you see a train coming at you or a loved one at 60mph, it is fear that gives you that added burst of energy and adrenaline to get out of the way or grab your loved one out of harms way. This is important. We might not call it fear but this is exactly what it is.
2. Fear is not a scary word
You have to make friends not only with fear but with the actual word itself. Nowadays, the word fear is seen as negative and carries connotations about weakness and vulnerability.
Listen, fear is just a word that has no power. We are fearful of many things, I had to learn how to overcome my fear of dentists and my fear of donating blood. But the first step of overpowering fear is to acknowledge fear.
3. Fear is a straw man
So once you have owned up to the fact that you fear something you can then move past the fear. For example, I have had a fear of heights, so what did I do? I acknowledged that I had a fear of heights. Then I decided if it was a healthy fear or an unreasonable fear.
Some fears that you might have just aren’t worth effort of overcoming them. A fear of flying however, might be a fear that you need to work on overcoming. A fear of bees for example might not be a fear that you need to overcome if you hardly ever get bothered by bees.
So acknowledge your fear, determine if the fear is debilitating you in any way and then realize that fear is a straw man.
4. Use the fear as fuel
So understanding that fear is a straw man, use the adrenaline you feel when you are thinking about overcoming your fear to knock it out cold.
So this is what I did to overcome my fear of giving blood. I respected that I had this fear of both giving blood and of needles. I then analyzed this fear and felt that it was debilitating to me. It prevented me from going to the dentist and of giving life saving blood to others.
I then thought about the worst that could happen by giving blood and realized that maybe I’d faint and the needle would hurt.
It wasn’t going to be the end of the world. So I made an appointment to donate blood as soon as I could.
5. Use the Buddha to work through the fear
I’m not gonna lie, I was shit scared when I found myself in the waiting room of the blood donor clinic. I started to sweat, my heart was like a hammer in my chest and my breathing was shallow and quick. My hands and legs started to shake.
I then decided to focus on peaceful images and I imagined how the Buddha sat under the bodhi tree. I had learned some deep breathing exercises in yoga that I tried and they helped calm me down immensely.
Breathe in deeply all the way into the corners of your lung for 6 seconds. Hold the breath for 6 seconds. Breathe out for 6 seconds. Hold your breath for 6 seconds. Repeat this process for 6 cycles and you will feel way more relaxed.
6. Feed your mind good wishes
When I was called to give blood, I got scared again and continued with my breathing the best I could.
I also started giving myself positive affirmations. I would say things like “this is going to be just fine” or “you’ll be so glad you did this” or “I’m really proud of you Jason”.
It might sound corny but it really helped me overcome fears. I also spoke honestly about my fear to the nurse and she was sympathetic and supportive. And just the practice of giving voice to my fear seemed to shed light on it and it seemed to squirm and grow smaller just by putting it out there.
7. A journey to overcoming fears begins with a single fear
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I had a bunch of fears, but I just worked on one at a time.
I’d recommend you just take one fear to work on first. Smash this one fear into smithereens and you will be emboldened by your new found courage.
We all have this courage and that is all it takes to overcome fear and anxiety. The courage you tap into in overcoming a single fear will hold you in good stead for the fears that you will soon conquer and obliterate.
There are many ways to overcome fear. This is how to overcome fear and anxiety and stress that worked for me. I know it will work for you.