Learn how to overcome fear and anxiety and to remove fear from your mind and heart with these simple tips. You can put these into practice to overcome the fear of failure, of being alone, of flying, of heights – fear of anything.
I was on my morning walk today and suddenly remembered how a few weeks ago my 4-year-old nephew had this series of nightmares. Bad dreams he just couldn’t stop thinking about. Surprisingly, he isn’t afraid of much during the day. He’d touch the hot stove, he’d spray perfume in his eye, he’d eat with his hands after he’d touched the ground and collected the dirt then threw it in the air like confetti.
But he had those bad dreams. I was trying to comfort him when I remembered that when I was a child and till this very day, whenever I was afraid of something I’d go and look. If I thought there were monsters under the bed when I was 4, I’d go and look. When I was a student and wanted to see Paris and slept in a cheap hotel where I felt there was a mouse under the bed, I’d go and look. Whenever I’m afraid there’s something lurking in the dark when I walk at night – I’d go and look. Then the fear would be gone.
And yet, I have fears too. Fears that are much more irrational than worrying about a mouse under the bed. Like fear of making the wrong decision about what to make for dinner, fear of failure, fear of talking to someone, fear of driving, fear of flying, fear of starting new things, fear of not having enough time, fear of rejection, fear of failure and so many, many more.
I know fear is there for a reason. It’s there to protect us and keep us safe. It’s a signal. How else would you know to protect yourself from threats? However, we’ve evolved past wild animals chasing us in the forest and past social exclusion meaning death to us. So our fears today, for the most part, are irrational. And while they can keep you safe, they are also sure to keep you stuck. To keep you from reaching your potential, your dreams and all of the things you desire.
So, it’s not easy, but I’m going to make it short. Here are a three steps you can take to overcome fears and anxiety and become free.
How To Overcome Your Fears
1. List Your Fears
Big or small. It can be obvious things like fear of spiders, fear of heights, fear of flying. But fears can come up as things that aren’t obvious as well. Anything that makes you feel doubtful, insecure, incapable, incompetent, small in any way…these are all based in fear. Make a list.
2. Face your fears
Start with the small ones to build self-trust. The best and surest way to remove fear from your mind and your heart is to face it. Facing your fears means leaving comfort behind and finding out for sure.
Remember the monsters under the bed? What would happen if I let fear take over? If I decide to keep laying there and wondering whether there are monsters under the bed or not? It could become crippling. I wouldn’t be able to sleep, to move, to do anything other than let my thoughts spiral out of control.
So how do you stop this from happening? You face the fear. You go and look under the bed. What are you going to see? Nothing. No monsters under the bed. Now you know for sure and the fear is dead. It has no root to grow from.
Most times, our fears are not real. Therefore, before you spiral, face reality. Is this thing real or am I just making it bigger in my mind? Did it actually happen? Do I know for sure it is going to happen? Am I okay right now? If you’re breathing, if your heart is beating, you’re safe.
3. Be Disciplined About It
Turn facing your fears into a habit. Don’t miss a day without facing a fear, no matter how big or small. Practice driving that car every morning, talk to new people, keep writing that book that you feel you need to share with the world, even if it may seem stupid and you might doubt that anyone will read it. Be disciplined and find out for sure. The fear will become smaller and smaller each time you practice self-discipline. Little by little, when you’re disciplined about facing your fears, you’ll become more and more comfortable and you will be able to achieve more and more in life.
Pick Your Fear
I wanted to make one thing clear. There’s no such thing as the absence of fear. Some people just prioritize other fears. For example, you could be worrying that your book wouldn’t be great, that it would be garbage and nobody would read it. But, people who become successful authors fear more what would happen if they never write or publish that book. Well, if they don’t write that book, they know they won’t become a successful writer, they won’t become a writer at all. And that’s a bigger fear than the fear of being rejected.
Practical steps to remove fear/anxiety:
- Surround yourself with positive messages. You can listen to an audiobook, or podcast, or watch a video on Youtube or read. I didn’t grow up religious, but I know there are many verses in the bible that show us we don’t need to be afraid. These can be very powerful, whether you’re religious or not. For me, whenever I’m feeling doubtful or hopeless, reading a few verses really calms my mind, gives me hope, helps me let go of fear, so I can move on confidently with the things I’m doing. You can find some great bible verses about fear here.
- Reconnect with nature and animals. The further away we get from nature, the more fearful we’ll become. Why? Because we are from nature. Nature is real, it is truth. Money, fame, followers on Instagram, video games mean nothing when you’re standing in front of a big wide ocean. Dolphins don’t care about your Facebook following or about your book or how much money you have. Find a hobby that reconnects you with what is real and true in this world. Spend time watching the birds or squirrels in the park. If someone thinks you’re weird, who cares? Their thoughts are not your reality.
- Remove sources of anxiety from your life. Keep one thing in mind: fear sells. The scarier and more shocking the stories on the news, in movies, on social media, or by people in real life – the more attention they will get. Stay away! Be selective about what you feed your brain. Go back to the positive messages, to nature, to the real reality. Did the sun go up today? Are the birds still flying? The world didn’t end? Great! Say thanks! Leave your phone at home. It is not a life-saving device.
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I hope this article helps you if you’re dealing with fear and anxiety. I’m not saying I’m an expert, but practicing these habits has definitely helped me move past some big fears in the past.