Overcome your fears in life because we can’t sit back and watch fear dictate what we should do. Fear will always deprive us of the opportunity to get what we deserve and what we want and we must not let that happen.
You may be thinking it’s easier said than done, but the fact remains that it’s very possible to live a courageous life and live a life that’s relatively void of fear. Of course, it’s human to be fearful but with fear also comes a decision to be calm and courageous. For us to live the life we want, we must learn to banish some level of fear from our lives.
Overcome Your Fears
We all have our moments of fear and we all fear for different reasons. For example, while someone may be afraid of introducing himself or herself to someone he or she admires, someone else may be scared to borrow money to grow his or her business, and another person may be scared to confront someone. It’s an accepted fact that we all experience fear from time to time. However, most of us don’t recognize the opportunities our moments of fear give because they can serve to expand our lives with the priceless, inner, courageous force that they help us develop through the unique opportunity they give.
What is Fear?
Whether a danger is psychological or physical, fear helps to notify us of the threat of harm or presence of danger. Fear involves a high individual emotional response and a universal biochemical response. Fear is a primitive, powerful, and natural human emotion. While fear can be an indication of mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder, it can as well originate from imagined dangers but it often stems from real threats.
However, take note that fear that’s highly personalized is stemming from an emotional response and on the other hand, our body as well responds in specific ways when we face a perceived threat — this is a biochemical reaction. Fear is a survival mechanism and natural emotion and, high adrenaline levels, increased heart rate, and sweating are some of the physical reactions to fear.
Here are some common symptoms of fear:
- Upset stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
- Dry mouth
- Chest pain
Some people also have the tendency of experiencing psychological symptoms of having a sense of impending death, feeling out of control, being upset, or being overwhelmed
Some of the common fear triggers include:
- The unknown/uncertainty
- Real environmental dangers
- Imagined events
- Future events
- Situations or some specific objects (flying, heights, crowd, roaches, snakes, spiders, etc.)
Take note that certain fears can be related to associations or traumatic experiences. Others that aid in survival can be evolutionarily influenced because they tend to be innate.
Types of Fear
Characterized by fear, here are some of the distinct kinds of anxiety disorders:
- Social anxiety disorder
- Specific phobia
- Social anxiety disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Panic disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
The Need to Overcome Fear
Fear exists in our head and some of these fears include the fear of being hurt, of being alone, of growing old, humiliation, rejection, being judged, fear of change, loss, failure, losing out, fear of authority, strangers, public speaking, to name but a few!
Fear makes it difficult for you to grow and progress in life. When you’re driven by fear, living your best life, and becoming a better person becomes Herculean and you’ll find it very challenging to believe in personal growth. In order to rise to the higher levels of enlightenment, peace, joy, love, and acceptance, we cannot be mired in fear.
You can never fully run away from fear.
How long can you run away from your fear? If you’ve been running, what has it done for you? Has it helped you get rid of the fear completely or does it complicate it more? Running will only make you feel secure in the moment, but you’ll always be haunted by your fear in everything you do if you refuse to deal with it and let it permeate.
Fear is a waste of your energy. When you succumb to fear, you’re investing your energy into something non-constructive. Instead of you brainstorming, identifying solutions, mapping out a way forward, and calmly processing the situation, fear consumes your physical and mental energy and it draws you back. Although fear, in some cases, can be a motivating factor to do more and perform better, especially for adrenaline seekers, it can as well be a waste of emotional and mental energy.
Things you Probably Never Knew About Fear
For you to learn how to conquer your fear, you must understand the science of fear, and this is what leads us to the 5 things you probably never knew about fear. Have you ever wondered why some people avoid fear while horror movie buffs and roller-coaster fans thrive on fear for pleasure? Here are a few things to keep in your mind about fear.
Fear is Physical
Well, you’ll already have understood this by now since it was already mentioned earlier that fear can be a biochemical reaction. Triggering a strong physical reaction in your body, fear is as well experienced in your mind. Once you recognize fear, your body starts reacting — there will be changes in your blood flow, you’ll start breathing faster, your heart rate and blood pressure will increase, stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol will be released, and your nervous system will get alerted as your amygdala goes to work. Your body as well prepares for fight-or-flight as you’ll find it easy to run for your life or start throwing punches due to the changes in blood flow.
Fear can Make you Foggy
Yes, fear can make you foggy. In case you’re not so sure about what the word “foggy” means, this simply means to be “befuddled” or “confused”. If you’re a movie buff, you’d have a clear idea of what this is about. For example, let’s say a guy is getting “cozy” with his girlfriend and three armed persons forced their way in. If that guy is captivated by fear, you’d see how confused or perplexed he would be.
At that point, he won’t be able to think clearly and he’ll be so melted that his decision-making skills will suffer. When fear happens, there are some parts of the brain that stop working and there are also some parts that become very active. When fear sets in your body, the brain’s area that’s responsible for judgement and reasoning, the cerebral cortex, suffers an impairment.
Fear can Become Pleasure
Do you ever wonder why many love it when they get caught up in stressful, fearful, moments? People who are great fans of horror movies, haunted houses, and rollercoasters thrive on fear to derive pleasure, and for them, the excitement doesn’t come just during the activity but when it has ended because their brain and body stay aroused as the excitation transfer process occurs. Pleasure is elicited as more of a chemical called dopamine gets produced during a staged fear experience.
Fear Keeps you Safe
Yes, fear does keep you safe. Unlike what you may have thought, heard, or believed, fear keeps us safe and it’s vital that we experience fear. We all experience this natural and biological condition, fear, and even though it can have its negative consequences, it can also be positive and healthy because it’s a complex human emotion.
Common and Unique Fears
Meaning fear or horror, the Greek word “phobos” is where the word phobia comes from. Fears associated with specific situations, medical issues, natural environments, or animals are some of what phobias typically involve. There are certain situations and objects attributed to specific phobias and phobias can be further explicitly described to be an unrealistic, intense, and persistent fear of a particular situation or an object.
Phobias can interfere with one’s schooling, performance at the workplace, and life at home. They can as well cause significant distress and they’re quite distinct from regular fears. People who are phobic about something tend to manage to endure it with so much anxiety or fear or perhaps, strive to avoid whatever it is they have a phobia for. However, note that the list of specific phobias is quite long because there’s an endless number of situations and objects. Phobias come in all sizes and shapes and there are five general categories where specific phobias typically fall within, as stated by some experts:
- Fears associated with specific situations (driving, riding an elevator, flying)
- Fears associated with medical issues, injury, or blood (falls, broken bones, injection)
- Fears associated with the natural environment (darkness, sun, mountains, thunder, heights)
- Fears associated with animals (insects, cats, dogs, rabbits, spiders)
- Others (drowning, loud noises, choking)
When one speaks of phobias, the list is endless. The five general ones and the list of many others have already been outlined. However, it seems that phobias never end as there are usually different phobias discovered by researchers and clinicians. These medical experts have found it necessary to rise to the occasion of naming different phobias as they are identified. For this, they use the -phobia suffix and a relatable Latin or Greek prefix relating to the phobia to make up a name. For instance, hydro (water) and phobia (fear) are combined to make hydrophobia which means the fear of water. We also have phobophobia which means the fear of fears.
Nevertheless, speaking of common phobias, there’s a source that outlined some of the most common phobias and this was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, in accordance with a 1998 survey that included more than 8,000 respondents.
Here they are:
- zoophobia, fear of animals
- ophidiophobia, fear of snakes
- hydrophobia, fear of water
- hemophobia, fear of blood
- claustrophobia, fear of confined or crowded spaces
- autophobia, fear of being alone
- astraphobia, fear of thunder and lightning
- arachnophobia, fear of spiders
- aerophobia, fear of flying
- acrophobia, fear of heights
Just as we have common phobias, you shouldn’t find it surprising that we also have unique phobias. We call these phobias unique because most people who have them tend not to report these unusual fears to their doctors and this makes them difficult to identify plus some of these phobias may only affect a handful of people at a time. Since you now know that certain phobias tend to be incredibly specific and unusual, here are some of them:
- Cryophobia, fear of ice or cold
- Nephophobia, fear of clouds
- Pogonophobia, fear of beards
- Onomatophobia, fear of names
- Alektorophobia, fear of chickens
For the treatment of phobias see a psychologist or qualified mental health professional.
Building Your Self-esteem and Self-confidence
You stand a high chance of becoming successful in both your professional and personal life if you have a healthy level of self-confidence. Noted to be crucial for your health and psychological well-being, self-confidence is explained to be the level of trust you have in your judgement, qualities, and abilities.
Just as it’s important for you to have a healthy level of self-confidence, it’s also crucial that you work on your self-esteem because if you don’t, it will get you plunged and immersed in erroneously damaging beliefs. Self-esteem is the opinion and perception that we have about ourselves and how we feel about ourselves.
Why do People Experience low Self-Esteem?
People suffer from low self-esteem due to diverse reasons. If you constantly felt that you lacked the capacity to live up to expectations when you were a kid and you grew up with this belief, you have a high tendency of having low self-esteem. This belief can make you encounter some difficulties in your work and personal relationship. Your self-esteem can also suffer negative effects if you’re going through bereavement, divorce, or any other stressful life events.
Benefits of Self-Confidence
There are lots of juicy benefits awaiting you when you brace up yourself to work on your self-confidence and here are some of them.
- Better performance: When you feel confident, you stand a good chance of performing better. But on the other hand, you won’t be able to devote your energy to your efforts when you keep worrying about not being good enough and whatever you do will seem like a waste of time and energy.
- Healthy relationships: Self-confidence helps you understand others and love them more and it makes you love yourself more. Self-confidence also strengthens you to walk out of toxic, draining, and undeserving relationships.
- Openness to try new things: When you have confidence in who you are and the things you can do, you’ll find it a whole lot easier to put yourself out there; whether you’re signing up for a cooking class or applying for a promotion. You’ll be interested and eager to try new things when you believe in yourself.
- Resilience: As we go through life, there are some adversities and challenges we’re bound to face, and our ability to bounce back from them is determined by our resilience level. You can actually enhance your resilience when you believe in yourself.
Ways to Build Your Self-Confidence
Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparisons aren’t healthy; comparing your friends’ income to your salary or comparing your look to that of your friends on Facebook will do you more harm than good. Focusing on the lives of others is not your responsibility. Focus on your life. Keep an ongoing gratitude journal. Always remind yourself of your successes and strengths whenever you feel envious of someone else’s life.
Surround yourself with positive people. You may want to take time to clearly scrutinize those that surround you. Do these people accept you for who you are or are they constantly judging you? Do they take pleasure in bringing you down or do they lift you up? People who love you and want the best for you are those you should surround yourself with and note that your attitudes and thoughts about what you think of yourself can be influenced by the people you spend time with.
Take care of your body. You’ll naturally feel more confident when you engage your mind, body, and spirit in something positive by practising self-care. But if you’re abusing your body, it’s difficult to feel good about yourself. Some of these self-care practices that can help you boost your levels of self-confidence include regular sleep, meditation, exercise, and eating well.
Be kind to yourself. Stop being too hard on yourself. Be kind to yourself because whatever happens to you in life, you’ll one day realize that you’re all that you’ve got. Whenever you experience a setback, miss, fail or make a mistake, treat yourself with kindness.
Practice positive self-talk. Your confidence can be lessened and your abilities can be limited when you practice negative self-talk. But on the other hand, you’ll feel empowered to take on new challenges, overcome self-doubt, and foster self-compassion when you use optimistic and positive self-talk. So, make sure you tell yourself that “at least I learned something” or “I can do better next time” whenever you make a mistake, rather than telling yourself that “I can do nothing right”.
Face Your Fears
By connecting the dots and putting all the pieces together, you’ll get refueled and be more inspired to take on your fears. Facing your fears head-on is a great way to build your confidence. Most people fear a lot and it’s simply because of their lack of confidence but you can gain confidence in yourself when you try difficult things and face your fears.
Simple Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem
1. Master a new skill. Your competency increases when you become better at something that corresponds with your talents and interests. You’ll enjoy an extra boost in your self-esteem.
2. List your accomplishments. No matter how little your accomplishments may have been, list them. They should include all that you’ve done weekly and all your doings that make you proud. Whenever you need to get something done and you feel low, review this list.
3. Do something creative. Sign up for a community theater production, take a dance class, write a story or poem, or pull out your old guitar. Creativity stimulates the brain and you can put the flow back into your life when you get yourself busy with creative tasks.
4. Get clear on your values. You’ll be more confident when you know what you stand for. Determine what your values are and examine them scrupulously.
5. Challenge your limiting beliefs. Erroneous beliefs will always try to engulf your mind to limit you but don’t let them thrive. Stop and challenge yourself if you ever find yourself caught up in thinking negatively about yourself.
6. Stand at the edge of your comfort zone. The edge of your comfort zone is where your confidence begins. Approach a situation in an unconventional way, meet different people, try something new, or something different that you aren’t used to that will get you uncomfortable a bit. Move to the edge of your comfort zone and stretch yourself.
7. Help someone. Offer something you do well as a gift to someone. You can teach someone something they want to learn, share helpful resources, or give someone direct assistance. Help others by using your abilities, skills, and talents.
8. Heal your past. Moving into the future confidently can be made easy when you decide to heal the past by seeking the support of a trained counselor. However, you can stay trapped in low self-esteem if you let unresolved issues and drama clog you down.
9. Stop worrying about what others think. You’ll never be free to be who you are when all you think of is what others will think of you. See, people will always think whatever they choose to think, irrespective of how perfect you try to appear in their sight. So, start making your choices based on your desires and quit getting worked up about what others will think.
10. Read something inspirational. You’ll feel more positive about yourself when you read something that lifts you up — this is a great way to gain more self-esteem.
Understanding and Overcoming Fear of the Unknown
As we go through life, uncertainty is one of the challenges we’ll have to deal with because it’s an unavoidable part of our existence as humans. How afraid you are of the unknown is what probably determines how you respond to uncertainty. This explains why some people get emotionally paralyzed by uncertainty and others thrive in uncertain times.
The word “xenophobia” is the psychological term for fear of the unknown and this is a situation where what you don’t really know hurts you. More so, it’s likely for you to develop “intolerance of uncertainty” and this state of mind occurs when encountering an unknown or unfamiliar situation makes you feel intensely upset and anxious. In this case, you’ll find some uncertain circumstances to be very unbearable.
The symptoms you experience when you have this phobia are synonymous with the effects of fear on the body. they include:
- Blood glucose (sugar) spikes
- Feelings of weakness
- Tense muscles
- Quick, shallow breathing
- Fast heart rate
Take note that you may start imagining worst-case scenarios or develop the habit of catastrophizing if you’re vulnerable to worrying about the unknown and this could harm your health.
There are two major causes of the fear of the unknown and they’re the lack of predictability and lack of control.
Lack of predictability
Getting more information is a great way to counteract the lack of predictability because your anxiety level can rise when you can’t make accurate predictions due to a lack of enough information.
Lack of control
Believe that you can take charge of your own life. Your sense of agency can be decreased by your disability and age and your anxiety level is likely to rise when you feel you can’t control your circumstances. Thus, it’s recommended that you list the things you can and cannot control and analyze your circumstances to be able to reclaim your sense of agency.
Nevertheless, take note that people with any of these challenges such as anxiety and fear disorders, depression, alcohol use disorder, disordered eating, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and hoarding disorder are more vulnerable to this kind of anxiety.
Overcoming the Fear of the Unknown
1. Question your assumptions
You’ll have to examine the beliefs that you hold if you experience fear of the unknown. A great way to commence is by asking yourself a few questions such as:
- Do you feel hindered by cognitive distortions?
- For you to survive past difficulties, did you have to adopt any cognitive distortions?
- How logical are your beliefs?
2. Do your research
You’ll find it easier to make decisions if you’re armed with more information. Increasing what you know is a great way to shrink your fear of the unknown because it will help you get better clarity over the situation.
3. Stay grounded in the here and now
You can enjoy more control over your life and shore up your sense of responsibility when you take one small step each day as you list factors within your control. A great way to reduce the potential of suffering a negative outcome is by taking action.
4. Manage stress with a healthy lifestyle
For you to deal with the stress that comes from uncertainty, here are some factors that can help you increase your capacity:
- good relationships
- nutritious food
5. Talk to someone you trust
Everybody needs somebody to talk to at a particular point in time. From writing down your concerns in a private journal to talking to a trusted friend, there are a couple of helpful strategies you can employ to reframe your thinking patterns, and you can as well process your fear of the unknown through the help of a therapist.
Taming Your Inner Critic
You can be prevented from reaching your full potential or fueled for your success by your inner dialogue and therefore you must learn to silence your inner negativities. You must also tame your inner critic to develop a more productive dialog with yourself and proactively address your negative thoughts.
1. Become more conscious of your thoughts. You must understand that the fact that you think of something doesn’t mean that it’s true. Whatever you’re thinking about, pay attention to it and try to be conscious of the messages you’re sending to yourself, even if you become used to hearing your own narrations. More so, understand that most times, our thoughts are usually disproportionate, biased, and exaggerated.
2. Quit ruminating. You don’t solve your problem when you ruminate on what you said that was questionable or what you did that was embarrassing. While you have a high chance of replaying the bad day you had or the mistake you made constantly in your head, you must understand that this act you’re engaging in doesn’t offer any solution. You can talk about a different subject, organize your desk, go for a walk, or distract yourself with an activity so that you won’t focus on it.
3. Imagine your friend being in your shoes and think of what you’d advise him. You know if you have a friend that feels down after making an error or committing a mistake, you’ll probably want to motivate him with encouraging words like “it’s not the end of the world” and the like. Now, transfer all the compassionate words you would have given to your friend to you.
4. Examine the evidence. You’ll be able to look at the situation less emotionally and more rationally when you look at shreds of evidence on both sides. There are times when your critical thoughts can be exaggeratedly negative and the pieces of evidence you gather and examine will help you to get a clearer reality view.
5. Use more accurate statements to replace overly critical thoughts. Respond with a more correct statement whenever you’ve got an exaggeratedly negative thought. For example, you can say “at times, I do things really well and sometimes I don’t” in place of “I never do anything right.”
6. Imagine your thoughts were true, how bad do you think it would be? This is a question you should ask yourself. How would you truly feel? The thing is, you can reduce the persistent barrage of worrisome thoughts and increase your confidence when you remind yourself that you’re capable of handling problems or tough times.
7. Balance acceptance with self-improvement. See, no one is perfect. Let no one pressure you over perfection. There are some days you’ll do well and there are some days you’ll do the opposite. The only thing you can do is to stay conscious and work to become better. Accept your flaws and decide to do and become better.
Living a Courageous Life
You would have probably heard the expression “there’s no courage without fear” and this is true because courage is when you have anxiety and worry looking right at you but you choose to respond fearlessly. Courage is taking action despite the fear you feel and this is why it’s a faulty interpretation to equate courage with fearlessness. You’ll be able to get what you want out of life, pursue your dreams, and take chances when you’re courageous. You can learn to make the most out of every situation and exercise your courage muscles in many ways if you want to feel more courageous in your life and you’ve been struggling with fear.
Benefits of Courage
Acting despite the fear that inevitably sets in, examining the risks and rewards, and thinking things through is what being courageous is about and, moving beyond your fears takes work. You’ll be able to accomplish positive things in your life and respond appropriately to risks when you become more courageous. Courage allows you to believe in your abilities, it bolsters your self-confidence and dons you the power to pursue the things that are important to you.
If you feel fearful, don’t assume you’re not courageous, and don’t let this make you beat yourself up. In fact, you’ll be able to slow down and evaluate risks properly when you feel fearful and this is one of the good sides of fear. You’ll be able to use a courageous-based response to replace your fear-based response when you brace up yourself to face your fears. And, without further ado, here are more benefits of courage:
- You’ll be able to increase your sense of happiness when you embrace courage and incorporate it into your life.
- You stand a good chance of seizing opportunities as they present themselves and you’re more likely to pursue your dreams and become a more successful person when you’re courageous
- You will be able to broaden the experiences you have in your life and you’ll be a better-rounded person when you choose to be more courageous by stepping out of your comfort zone.
- When you’re courageous, you’ll serve as a motivation to others to be courageous too.
- You’ll be able to see the world from a different perspective when you embrace courage.
- If you’ve always suffered from low self-confidence, find your courage, and your self-confidence will grow.
Ways to Live a More Courageous Life
1. Embrace vulnerability. Open up and become more vulnerable if you’re scared of people seeing you for who you are. You’ll have little or no confidence in yourself if you live a fear-based life and this is why you must embrace vulnerability.
2. Admit you have fears. As I said, no one is born courageous and for you to overcome your fears and insecurities, you need to get all the information you need about them, and before you can get this information, you have to first identify what you’re afraid of. You must admit you have fears just as you open yourself up to others.
3. Face your fears. A great way to overcome your fear or phobia is by exposing yourself to your fears. For instance, if you have a phobia for cats, making friends with someone who has a cute cat can make you stop being afraid of cats and see things from a different angle.
4. Think positively. Stop paying too much attention to what could go wrong whenever you want to do anything. More so, let others love you and show you affection — this is also part of a positive attitude. Do you know this phrase they call “hard guy” when you act like you don’t care about people loving you? Don’t let that be your thing. Love people unashamedly and allow others to do nice things for you if you’re someone who refuses favors.
5. Reduce your stress. We all need a break. Take your vacation time. Take breaks. Exercise. Get enough sleep and make sure you eat well. At times, it’s the exhaustion that makes you experience fear and it’s high time you started prioritizing your health and engage in activities or whatever helps you de-stress.
6. Demonstrate courage. Some people say they love to “fake it until they make it” and others interpret that act as a demonstration. So, demonstrate courage, whenever you get a chance. Take a bold step to intervene or call for help if you see someone in distress. Instead of ignoring someone in a dangerous situation, think of what you can do to help. Showing your courage is a great way to overcome fear.
7. Know failure but press forward. Keep moving forward instead of curling up into a ball when you fail. Fail forward and let all your failures keep propelling you to the next level or next stage. The more you fail, the more experience you have. Failure isn’t that bad, but it can be very devastating and dangerous when you let it get to you.
8. Cope with risk and uncertainty. Nothing is promised or 100 percent certain in this life and learning to deal with life’s uncertainties is a great way to conquer your fears. Figure out what you can do to keep your client or spouse if you fear you’re going to lose them to another person. Likewise, you can set up emergency savings account if you fear you’ll lose your house to foreclosure.
9. Continue to learn. Never stop learning. Whatever opportunities you see to learn a new skill or to further improve your skills, make sure you take them. Improve your skills, learn, and continue to grow. There will be less risk for you to take to become successful when you know more and make sure you read all that you can regarding your industry. You should also read top thought leaders’ books.
10. Accept your challenges. This is where being responsible sets in. Accept your challenges. Do you even know that in most cases fear is just in your head? Brace up yourself to face what lies ahead rather than hide. Even after you’ve confronted your fears and challenges, get yourself together to stay on the course. Remember that you can always get ahead by living and wasting time worrying will do you no good at all.
For you to accomplish your goals in life and have a clear mind to start focusing on the things that matter to you in life, you need to deal with your fear so that it won’t affect you. To some people, fear may just seem too normal, and if you tag along too and handle this with levity that “fear is just fear” and you choose not to work on your fear, the outcome of it may be very devastating. You shouldn’t let fear have control over you. Fear shouldn’t stop you from getting what you deserve and what you want.
For how long will you let fear keep driving your decisions? It’s high time you turned things around and let those fears know that you can roar louder than they can. Take charge of your future and destiny and commit yourself to becoming a courageous person. Let it always ring in your mind that the day you decide to confront fear and look right into its eyes is the day you gain confidence, courage, and strength.