There is so much truth in this. Love, our dreams and goals, even just a simpler life…so much of what holds us back from these things is fear. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of missing out. It’s not the only obstacle, but it’s a big one.
So how do we get to the other side of fear? The advice is endless really. “Let go of Fear!” “Lean in and embrace the Fear!” “Be Brave!” Every time I hear these sentiments echoed, I wonder “But how!?” How do I lean in and let go and be brave? The advice is so abstract, like little sound bytes that masquerade as wisdom, but are really just…empty.
Fear is there for a reason.
I think though that might be intentional, because there is no road map, no easy path, no planned journey to get us through whatever we’re afraid of. Fear is there for a reason. Like pain, it forces us to slow down, to stop and think rather than stumble forward thoughtlessly. It’s meant to keep us safe, but what happens when our fear becomes Fear and we let it control and limit us in ways that negatively impact our lives?
I speak here with some authority, not because I’m an expert at overcoming Fear, but because I’m well versed in letting Fear take the lead. Sometimes it’s easier to let Fear make decisions. I just let Fear answer “No,” and move on with my day. I don’t acknowledge that Fear made the decision, but I know, deep down, I wasn’t in control, and I might have missed out on a really great thing because of it. That’s a really frustrating feeling. I let fear get between me and an opportunity, and rather than take a chance at maybe getting what I want, I’m left with the thing I don’t want, and the knowledge that it’s actually my own fault.
I know, that’s depressing, and you didn’t come here for me to drag you down. So here’s the good news. Are you ready? Knowing there’s a problem is the very first step to fixing it.
That was pretty trite, I know, and I’m sorry. Unfortunately, it’s also true. You can’t get to the other side of fear if you can’t recognize when Fear is holding you back. What are the next steps? Read on my friend.
5 Ways to Overcome Fear
1. Acknowledge your Fear
There’s no getting through an obstacle if you don’t even know it’s there. If you can step back and say “I turned down X because I’m afraid of Y,” you can start to move forward.
2. Ask yourself WHY
Why are you afraid? Why does Fear have power in this situation?
3. Figure out what you want
All fears aside, what do you want? What do you want to achieve or feel or have in your life. If you had no fears holding you back, what’s one thing you would do tomorrow? How would doing that thing make you feel? Now hold on to that thought, and every time Fear steps our of the shadows, remember what you want and how you’ll feel if you can just get past the Fear.
4. Say YES more than you say No
Fear can sometimes create a knee-jerk “No!” reaction. Don’t let it. Say yes to positive opportunities when they come your way. Or say “I’ll think about it,” and really think about it.
5. Do something you’re afraid of*
(*but don’t, like, jump off a building or anything. Stay safe)
Speak at that conference, go out with that person who gives you butterflies, ride the roller coaster! Sometimes the reason Fear holds us back is because we’ve over thought a situation and have told ourselves a terrible story of all the things that could go wrong. Unfortunately, we’ve neglected to think about all the things that could go right along the way. This is the part where I tell you to lean in to the Fear, and do the thing anyway.