Before going any further I'll need you guys to comment below a personal development topic I should talk about next time. This is also a shorter post because some of you prefer shorter ones so this is an experimental post comment below if you want me to keep my posts shorter. Thank you!
Introduction to Overcoming Fear
If you’ve read a good number of my posts then you’ll notice I mention fear frequently. Fear is the Pablo Escobar of life, creating, distributing, dealing and causing many problems. When you face your fears, you discover they’re like dwarves in a giant robot. Fear isn’t always easily spotted it can hide behind things like laziness, procrastination, insecurities etc.
According to an article on Very Well Mind, the fight-or-flight refers to a physiological reaction that occurs when we perceive danger or threat either mentally (approaching deadline, worrying about losing a job) or physically (wild animal, weapon, etc). It is triggered by the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or to run away to safety. It’s called fight-or-flight' because of the two choices available to our ancestor in the face of danger. They could either fight or flee. In either case, the physiological and psychological response to stress prepares the body to react to the danger. This response was initially described by Walter Cannon (American physiologist) in the 1920s. He realized that a chain of rapidly occurring reactions inside the body helped to prepare us for dealing with perceived danger. Today, fight-or-flight is also attributed to the first stage of Hans Selye's general adaptation syndrome, a theory describing the stress response which is characterised by rapid heartbeat and breathing, pale or flushed skin, dilated pupils, trembling etc. This implies that fear causes stress and vice versa (see 5 Simple Tips for Dealing with Stress). I wanna leave you with a quote I saw on Instagram, it said fear has two meanings – face everything and rise or forget everything and run…I believe this is a simple way to explain fight or flight.
5 Tips to Overcome Fear
Our body can overreact to things that stress us that aren’t necessarily dangerous or life-threatening such as public speaking, work or domestic pressure, being broke (felt this one in my chest! Lol), etc. Personally, I see fear as an advisor, so, you can choose to take its advice or not but the problem arises when fear starts overstepping its boundaries and begins to seize control of your life. On that note, here a few ways to overcome fear when it comes knocking.
1. Awareness: You can’t fight and certainly overcome something that you’re not aware of. Can you treat a disease you were unaware of? It’s not enough to be aware though, you must acknowledge that your fears are problematic to you and/or others. According to an article by Henri from Wake Up Cloud, it’s easy to get so attached to your thoughts and feelings that you think they're your entire make up, which really and truly is a lie. You're not your fears' you're much more! You're the awareness that experiences it. Fear and anxiety can feel as if they 'just happen to us', but we have much more control than we realise. When you realise that you can control your fears and not just be a victim of them then the fight can really begin!
2. Identify Bogus Beliefs: Some fears are a result of false beliefs or superstitions, for example, a common superstition in Nigeria is that fully black cats=bad luck. So, when some people see a black cat especially at night rationality is thrown out the window and can do the most to avoid them. You should identify these thinking patterns and start questioning them. If you’re afraid of public speaking (America’s #1 fear) then, what kind of thoughts does your mind conjure up when you’ve been asked to give a talk? Do you think everyone may start laughing at you or worse throwing stuff at you like that man that threw a shoe at George W. Bush? Do some research into understanding your actual risk versus perceived risk. Recognize that the worse-case scenario is really unlikely. You must discard your negative self-defeating thoughts and tell your inner critic to stop lying to you (see How to Combat Your Negative Thoughts and Quieten Your Inner Critic); like Donald Trump says, you can just say it’s “fake news” lol. For example, if you’re afraid of dogs like me then you can say to your negative thoughts that “I recognize that some dogs are vicious, but the vast majority of dogs are gentle. It is unlikely I will get bitten.”
3. Fight it with Positivity: When fear strikes it can change our perspective and cast a dark shadow over us in certain situations. So, whenever you’re afraid, try to change your perspective again and flip it over like pancakes. Instead of doing the usual and thinking of the negative side, look at the silver lining in your dark cloud. What’s a positive outcome to your fear? If you’re thinking about going to talk to your crush then instead of thinking you’ll be rejected, think that you’ll leave with the number and even secure yourself a date but please don’t start thinking of marriage o lol.
4. Gradual Exposure: One way to overcome your fear is to gradually expose yourself to it after you’ve identified and dealt with your bogus beliefs. Humans have a high ability of getting used to things or being adaptable; so, it may just take being exposed to your fear to get over it. According to an article on WikiHow, "Fear of the unknown" is usually used to describe the automatic aversion people feel to something that's different. Some things just need some warming up to. So, if you're afraid of public speaking, start by watching videos of great speeches. Then, write your own speech and practice like you’re singing in the shower. Practice it until you don’t feel tense, nervous or afraid. Give a short speech in front of your friends or family. You can proceed to giving one at church or classroom. Try giving a speech at a small social event, then bigger ones and from there you’ll be good to go!
5. Proper Planning: Planning is a very essential part of overcoming fear. It is likely that you’ve been having your fears for a while and possibly even tried to face it without a plan and ended up unsuccessful. When you don’t have a plan then worrying, over analysing and overthinking will become the order of the day (see9 Ways to Tackle Overthinking); it’s usually what happens when you’re called out of the blue to give a speech unexpectedly especially when you’re no good at speeches. The solution is to always be prepared mentally even if you don’t have any speeches planned; you must set very clear goals (see How to Set Your Goals and Smash Them) with a detailed and effective plan on how you’ll go about accomplishing said goals (see 11 Steps for Creating an Effective Plan). The main ingredient to any effective plan must now be added which is taking action. Taking action towards meaningful goals will help you relieve stress (major contributor to fear) and you'll "taste the feeling" of enjoyment like Coca Cola. Fear creeps in and paralyzes us when we don’t plan our lives.
Bonus: When you feel fear or anxiety when you wanna do something like public speaking use the AWARE acronym which means:
-A: Accept the anxiety. Don't try to fight it.
-W: Watch the anxiety.
-A: Act normally.
-R: Repeat the above steps in your mind if necessary.
-E: Expect the best.
QOTD: “If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie
That’s it from me guys now it’s your turn because we’re a team!
Are there any things you’re afraid that you can tell us or do you have extra tips on overcoming fear? or do you have a topic request? Comment below. Share this post on social media if you found it useful. SUBSCRIBE so you don’t miss out on anything and to get my free e-books, 10 Key Habits of Successful People and 11 Steps for Creating an Effective Plan. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest. See ya next Monday.
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My name is Ofai and I'm passionate about blogging and it gives me fulfillment that I can help you out so sit back, relax and enjoy your weekly carats of #SelfImprovementGems with me!