“Fear is inevitable, I have to accept that, but I cannot allow it to paralyze me.” ~Isabel Allende
When you think of a fearless person, you might imagine a real-life James Bond who performs death-defying stunts knowing he could die at any second.
But for most of us living “normal” lives, fear operates at a subconscious level and prevents us from being the best we can be.
For a long time, I struggled with these fears. I could not get myself to speak in front of people without experiencing extreme nervousness. When it came to talking to girls I liked, I could list 100 reasons why I would get rejected.
As I got older, I learned that these fears affected me not because I wasn’t talented or likable, but because I was limiting myself with my thinking.
By training our minds, we can control our fears instead of letting them control us. Below are some tips that have helped me fear less and live more (which I hope will help you too).
1. Be more vulnerable. (Tackle the fear of rejection and intimacy.)
None of us want to have our hearts broken, but when we’ve experienced this before, we may be afraid of entering new relationships for fear of getting hurt.
Being vulnerable means accepting yourself for who you are and accepting your imperfections. Revealing your authentic self is a powerful way to combat the fear of rejection because you don’t try to be an ideal person; instead, you learn to be confident in yourself, regardless of who accepts or rejects you.
2. Work hard and expect nothing. (Tackle the fear of failure.)
As harsh as it sounds, expectations set us up for failure. A lot of the things we plan and expect to happen never happen. The potential for failure hurts our egos and keeps us from trying new things.
Your task is to discover what your heart wants and work really hard at it. Whether things actually work out how you planned is not under your control. Trust that life will take care of that, and that you can be happy regardless of what happens.
This mindset helps you do your best; and even if you fail, you’ll still feel good about doing what you love.
3. Know that you are capable of achievement. (Tackle the fear of success.)
It’s not always fear of failure that stops us. Sometimes it’s the fear of success. As ridiculous as it may sound, sometimes even if we’ve worked hard at something, we are afraid of putting ourselves out there because we feel we don’t deserve it.
As I mentioned before, I used to be afraid of public speaking and thought it was because of the fear of failing. But really, I was saying to myself, “You are not good enough; just leave it to the experts.” Then I changed my inner voice to, “Why not me? I deserve this and am fully capable of doing this.” This helped me get rid of my fear of public speaking.
4. Let go. (Tackle the fear of losing control.)
We like to be in control of everything in our lives. It’s easy to think of someone like Sherlock Holmes who plans everything out in detail; and even when things don’t seem to be going according to plan, he really had that planned all along too.
But real life just doesn’t work this way. For example, one of the things I liked to control was time. I would try to plan my entire day on Outlook, and when things didn’t go that way, I’d be disappointed. When I stopped doing this, I felt less stressed, and many of the things I feared would happen if I didn’t plan things out never happened.
I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences trying to control things. It is important to realize that you don’t need to control life to be happy; and if you try to control life, you definitely won’t be.
5. Focus on the present. (Tackle the fear of the past repeating itself.)
Sometimes, we let our past experiences prevent us from succeeding. Because you failed so many times before, you start to expect failure this time too.
You hear people telling you to let go of the past all the time. But how exactly do you do it? By being fully absorbed in the present. Focus on your breathing right now. See what you are seeing right now and feel what you are feeling right now.
For those who practice meditation, this may sound familiar. This is how you let go of attachment to the past and the fear of it repeating itself.
6. Realize you can handle whatever happens. (Tackle the fearing of worst-case scenarios.)
We humans like to picture the worst scenario that could arise out of a situation. In our minds, we may fear going bankrupt or something bad happening to our loved ones.
I’m not saying we should be naïve and not expect bad things to happen at all. But to live in fear of these scenarios is a waste of time and energy, because many times the things we fear never end up happening, and when they do happen, it’s not quite as bad as we imagined it would be.
We can’t control whether the worst will happen to us or not. But if it does happen, the only thing we can do is take action, knowing we can handle whatever comes at us, as we’ve handled every obstacle we’ve faced up until now.