Fear cripples people and keeps them from pursuing and reaching their dreams.
If you’ve ever felt the heart-wrenching fear that seems to paralyze you, you may think there is no getting around it. But conquering fear isn’t about refusing to feel the emotion of fear. It’s about changing your perspective, developing a new mindset and accepting that which you can’t control. Here are four tips for battling your fears.
1. Discipline your thoughts.
Fear is an action of the mind. Fear is a use—or rather a misuse—of the imagination. In reality, when you fear something, you are simply choosing to imagine a future happening. You are fearful that your spouse will divorce you or that the snake will bite you, or that you will lose your job. So when we fear, we are simply letting our minds imagine a bad future. There are two things you can do.
One would be to imagine a good future. The other would be to stop thinking about the future and just take every day, every moment, one at a time. If you are a fearful person, either one of these would be preferable to living in the prison you currently live in. We have to discipline our minds and choose not to think about a bad future. We can do that. We can choose our thoughts. It takes discipline.
2. Accept the realities of life.
Much of what people fear is the reality of life. People die. People lose jobs. People choose to do unpredictable things in relationships. There is nothing you can do about that. Period. Some people are afraid they will go bankrupt or broke and worry endlessly about their finances. What should they do? Work hard, save, invest and live life. Could you go bankrupt? Yes.
These things happen and all you can do is work to make your life what it can be and accept that sometimes things happen, even tragic things. If they happen, you experience the pain and emotion then—there is no sense forcing yourself to experience it before it happens—if it happens at all. This is a mental adjustment we make that enables us to get over the fear.
3. Give yourself good information.
Much of what we fear is irrational and not based on good information. For example, someone afraid of snakes will scream when they see a garter snake, even though there is nothing the snake can do to them. Take the time to educate yourself about whatever it is you fear and see if that doesn’t help you gain the mental edge you need.
4. Take control only of those things you can control.
Much of what we fear is out of our hands, and we can’t control it. You can’t control if your spouse leaves you. You can control how you treat your spouse. You can’t control a downturn in the economy. You can control whether you save for a rainy day or not. You can’t control whether you will get a fatal disease. You can control whether you eat right and exercise.
Control what you can control, and let go of the rest. Getting over fear is an issue of the mind and the spirit, and the battle over fear can be won.
This article was published in March 2010 and has been updated.
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