We fear the unknown, the unpredictable, the randomness.
We fear a dead-end job. We fear a low salary in a field we're about to pursue. We fear losing a loved one. We fear a business climate filled with turbulence, change and disruption. We fear a life without meaning. We fear failure.
Fear sucks the life out of us.
It doesn't have to be rational or true to make us afraid. Often fueled by an overthinking mind that gets stuck in a vicious cycle, fear keeps us up night and debilitates during the day.
Something as small as a whisper can trigger its emotional chokehold. We pass by the TV and see a news clip of the chaos in the middle east. We stumble upon a website with a story of someone facing a difficult health situation. We hear people say how bad business is "these days."
By bedtime, we are engrossed in a full fledged war with our mind fighting the stories it conjures up. Will I fall ill? Will I lose my job? Will I have enough money? Is the crime rate going up? Will I ever meet someone? Will I sleep tonight? Will I survive?
Understand what fear is and what it isn't
Fear is an emotion. Sometimes a useful one when facing danger but often an irrational one that arises when our senses pick up a trigger from our hyper active and fully transparent and connected external world.
And just like other emotions such as love, anger or happiness, fear is something we can do something about. It is something that we can overcome. More importantly we must overcome fear otherwise, it will paralyze us.
In my journey of learning to deal with uncertainty I have realized that while fear can motivate some of us to push beyond our limits spurring us into action to protect ourselves from dangerous life threatening situations, it can be enormously heavy for others weighing us down in our pursuit of a full and prosperous life.
If we cannot break free from it, fear can destroy our spirit.
I have learned that it is possible to learn how to overcome fear so that we can continue our work, our passion and our life with a sense of fulfillment and freedom.
Here are 15 tips I learned to overcome fear that might be helpful to you:
1. Stop feeding the fear
We passively consume thousands of messages a day. Let's stop allowing others to feed the fear putting aside the 10 o'clock news, negative people and reading into what might happen in the future. Stop overanalyzing what might happen. Prohibit the negativity from entering the temple of your focused and vibrant mind.
2. Replace the "worry trigger" with something more useful
Be proactive at what goes into our mind each day, especially in the morning when our mind is most fertile. Here are four ways to kickstart the day. Read a book, listen to an uplifting song, watch an inspiring video on youtube, say a mantra or an affirmation. Put thoughts into your mind that nurture, replacing the fear with fuel that energizes and inspires.
3. Friends help to overcome fear when they lift you up and never bring you down
Face to face interactions with friends helps to nourish us especially when we need a boost. Whether we're at the house of worship or at the sporting event or at the Labor Day BBQ, surrounding ourselves with laughter, fun and encouragement from friends can help us realize that our fear is misplaced.
4. Facts not perceptions or rumors help to overcome fear
Worries from health problems that we think we might have will not go away from searching on google but can often be put to rest by the consultation of a doctor. Whether we fear a health problem or a career challenge, get the facts from someone who is a trusted source.
5. Laser-like focus on goals to overcome fear
Nothing concentrates the mind like a bold, purposeful goal that can dramatically change our life. What we choose to focus on becomes our reality. What do we want more of, our dream or our fear? Clarity of a goal becomes a powerful magnet often pulling us forward through to overcome fear.
6. A supportive family to overcome fear
Moms, dads, siblings or our kids can be a source of support in times when we're fearful of the smallest things. They know us better than we know ourselves sometimes. When my wife started her business during the height of the economic crisis in October 2008, everyone thought she was crazy but having the support her family gave her the courage to keep going.
7. Take action to overcome fear
Much of what we fear is the future. Bringing our overthinking mind from the future to the present getting to work on our job, our business or our life can be a potent tonic for the disease that plagues our mind. Work... hard work... grueling work has been a great savior for me over the years. Working on something challenging where I've thrown myself deep into a project has helped to distract my mind from the things I fear which became a distant memory. It's not only about finding a distraction. Action allows us to overcome fear because instead of feeling out of control, we will feel back in control.
8. Having faith can overcome fear... that things will work out in the end
Think back a few years ago. Did the fear you had five years ago come true? Was it really that bad? Probably not. Life is complex and the universe has a way of reshuffling the deck so that somehow, in some cosmically random way things work out in the end. Trust. Have faith that things will be ok. Let go of logic and reason. Suspend your cynical mind. And simply believe.
9. Calm composure to overcome fear
Sit up straight, stand tall, take a deep breath. Smile. Laugh for the fun of it. Wear a tie to work. Get dressed up to go work. Walk as though you are in charge. Modeling the type of behavior that we observe in confident people allows us to inherit those emotions. Keep your head up high.
10. Robust exercise to overcome fear
Increase the blood flow to the brain, heart and lungs while giving the mind a break from thinking about the fear. Morning walks, jogging or running. Yoga is also great especially when done in conjunction with meditation. Physical stimulus has shown to boost not only our energy but our happiness.
11. Happy memories can overcome fear
Thinking about a happy moment in our life warms our heart, nourishes our soul and soothes fearful thoughts. We had nothing when I was growing up but my dad used to take me to movies all the time. I can still picture us sitting happily in that movie theatre and it always overwhelms me with a wave of positive emotions washing out any fears I might have in that moment. Almost instantly, good memories can fill up the reservoir replacing doubt and fear with happiness.
12. Examples of hope can overcome fear
Life is filled with great underdog stories. From people who have overcome health problems, bankruptcy, poverty, emotional challenges to career chaos -- we have examples all around us of people who have beat fear back with achievements and accomplishments. I love a good underdog story. Read them, watch them, believe in them and get inspired by them.
13. Overcome fear by facing it
Want to ask the boss for a raise? Want career advice from someone really "high up there"? Clear the mind's overthinking about rejection by facing it head on. Ask. Speak. Say. Do. Nothing clears up the fog of uncertain fears than the reserved confidence shown by an individual who faces them head on.
14. Fortitude and resolve to overcome fear
Problems occur at random and happen to everyone on this planet. Get don't let the clutches of fear grab a permanent hold. Get bold, be courageous and resolve to handle it. See it through with sheer determination. Fears stay away when we are actively engaged in trying to solve a problem with all of our strength.
15. Overcome fear of change by trying something new each day
Little by little tiny drops of water can reshape the hardest stone. Park the car in a different spot. Say hello to someone new. Read a book. Attend a workshop or seminar. Making small changes to daily routines spark new paths within our mind's complex system forming new neurons which enable us to learn how to adapt.
"Fear must be conquered not necessarily by bold moves but by the smallest changes in our mind dripping like water on hard stone a little each day." We must overcome fear if we're to live a full life of purpose, meaning and prosperity.
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