“Courage is not the lack of fear, but the ability to face it.” Thanks, John Putnam Jr. for that amazing quote. The only problem with it is that it is easy to talk the talk, but when it comes to overcoming fear it is a bit more complicated. I found this to be true during my years of having fear control the way I lived in many aspects of my life. However, no matter how complicated it may seem, there is hope in overcoming all our fears. There is a solution that will make your life much more manageable. Here are five common limiting fears that, once turned around, will greatly increase your confidence and quality of life:
Fear of Flying: the fear of getting on an airplane and flying is certainly one of the most common phobias, mainly due to the fact that we are trapped in a small confined space with many strangers, and the awful possibility of what could happen once the plane is airborne. The key to lessening your anxiety levels in this situation is to do some strenuous exercise in the hours before you leave, as well as memorizing a short calming phrase or mantra to keep you calm during some of the most difficult parts of the flight. The mild fatigue from the exercise and repetition of the calming phrase will greatly lessen any anxious feelings you may be having, and increase your ability to relax and sit in peace until you reach your destination.
Fear of Judgement: being potentially criticised and judged by others holds people back from taking risks in life. Thoughts like, ‘I shouldn’t buy that outfit because people won’t like it’ or ‘I won’t dance to my favorite song because people might laugh at me or think I look weird.’ Well, I am here to tell you to buy that outfit, and dance your heart out! You need to take risks in life, and worry less about what others think of you. You will find out quickly that people actually scrutinize you a lot less than you think they do. Think about what you do when you notice someone. Do you stare at them and comment and judge them in everything they do and say? You probably don’t, and neither do others when they look at you. Besides, if you don’t take those risks, then the rest of us will truly be missing out on the uniqueness of you, and we need that in our lives.
Fear of Failure: ever hear the quote, “If you knew you couldn’t fail what would you do today?” I love it. After hearing that quote one morning a few months ago, and I decided to take on the world and become the Anxious Athlete. Is it possible that I might fail? No! Because I am helping people change their lives in a positive way, and so can you. You are not the only one to be held back because of the fear of failure, nor will you be the last. But I have one question for you, how much more painful will it be for you in 20 years, knowing you didn’t take action to do something you truly wanted to simply because of the fear of failure? Try to live your life as if you want to have no regrets later on when you are older.
Fear of Driving: there are two possible reasons you may have a fear of driving: you have had a fearful episode in the past such as anxiety symptoms or a panic attack while behind the wheel, or you had a bad encounter or an accident because of other drivers. The truth is, now your mind is blowing the previous incident way out of proportion now, and your subconscious has assessed the situation and has come to the conclusion that driving is a massive threat, and this fear is now in the back of your mind. Just as quickly as your brain conditioned this fear response to driving, you can re-condition your mind to accept that those fears will not come true. This is done by building on the facts (consciously taking the time to understand that this threat is just not genuine and will not materialize) and slowly getting your confidence back with defensive driving practices such as being fully aware of what is going on all around you. Start driving some short distances with someone along for the ride for some moral support, then build up to driving longer distances when alone. Have a contingency plan ahead of time for what to do if your anxiety levels increase (soothing music, park and take short walk or call a friend, etc.)
Fear of Death: this is the most common and difficult fear to deal with. I have found three ways to overcome this fear of dying that added fuel to my anxiety disorder and hypochondria more than any other fear. One way to overcome the fear of death for me was the realization and understanding that it is part of the circle of life. We are born, we live, and we die, round and round and round, the world goes on in this way forever. It is just part of the package deal when we come to earth. The second thing was to let myself worry about death when the time came to actually worrying about it – just sit with the anxiety you feel when you think about death, the anxious feelings you have will go away quickly as long as you don’t fight it or wallow in it and make a bug production out of it. Just sit quietly with it – it will go away. Thirdly, if you are really feeling desperate, study and take some of the information from any faiths that believe in an afterlife or reincarnation. There is a lot of comfort in the idea that you are passing on to some other realm of existence or moving into another life somewhere else.
As Mr. Tony Robbins reminds us, “Problems are a sign of life.” These fears are problems and are a sign that we are alive, alive but living in a limited way in some areas. A systematic way of desensitizing your fears is always the least overwhelming way to overcome them, and I always suggest this step by step solution of starting small and working your way to the top. Don’t ever think that you are weak or useless if these fears are holding you back. You just haven’t fully understood that you don’t have to succumb to your fears, you can actually step into them in small amounts and create a deeper understanding that slow and steady really does win the race!