7 Simple Steps to Overcome ANY Fear

Overcoming our fears is the most liberating feeling in the world. 

I should know.  I used to live my life in constant fear.  I was so fearful that I suffered horrifically from anxiety and depression.  I was scared to live.  I was scared to do everything that I wanted to – fly, drive long distances, interviews, public speaking, expressing myself.

The list is endless.  The truth is many are living a life full of fear.

shutterstock_61572922The road to freedom is gradual one.  It does not happen overnight.  However not taking that road is worse than the fear of the unknown.

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal.” Paulo Coelho

I am thankful I no longer live my life in fear.  I have broken free from the destructive thought cycles that result in anxiety and depression.  I have long overcome my fear of flying, driving and interviews.  I am almost over my fear of public speaking.

And over the past month I have finally (after a very long struggle) overcame my fear of expressing myself.  I have finally found my voice.  Don’t get me wrong I have seen brief glimpses of it over the past 2 years.  However, now the fear has finally gone, 100%.  Disappeared and I feel on top of the world.

I realise there is a process you go through each time you overcome fears.  I would like to share this with you.

1)     Make a commitment.  Decide what fear you would like to overcome and make a decision to do something about it.  Thinking about it is going to help.  You might think “what’s the point” “I’m doing okay as I am”.  This is self defeating.  It might seem like the easy option but it’s not.  When you don’t face your fears head on, you limit yourself.  This slowly and gradually decreases your self esteem and confidence.  You feel good when you are pushing yourself, when you are extending your comfort zone.  This starts by making and a decision to do whatever it takes, no matter what. No going back when it gets tough.   

2)     Take action – you need to take actionable steps to achieve what you want.  It doesn’t matter how small but you need to keep moving forward.  As I was saying you grow when you extend your comfort zone.  This does not mean that you need to go so far that you head straight for panic.  Don’t get me wrong if you learn and work well under pressure, go for it. The majority of us learn best with slight pressure.  Too much pressure makes you want to recoil.  In my opinion the best way to grow is to keep extending the comfort zone step by step.  For example when overcoming my fear of flying I was regularly flying short distances.  I would not have gone long haul at the height of my fears.  Similarly when I was scared of driving long distances, I gradually increased the distance.  Over a short period I was able to enjoy driving and flying.

3)     Re-programme your subconscious mind.  You have unconsciously programmed your mind to react a certain way in the situation you fear.  Whenever you encounter the situation your brain responds in the same way that is did on previous occasions.  It can be a challenging cycle to break.  Many people live with the same fears their whole life and never do anything about it.  This is self defeating.  The good news is that you subconscious mind does not know the difference between a real situation and an imagined one.  This has been scientifically proven.  Your body will respond to the imagined or real experience in the same way.  Therefore, a very effective way to re-programme your subconscious is through the process of visualisation.  Visualisation of how you feel and how you want to act when doing something you fear does work.  It will not work in isolation.  You still need to make a decision and take action.  However, as a technique to overcome fear it is very powerful.

4)     Learn to control your thoughts.  Your thoughts are creating your reality.  When you are scared and fearful your thoughts have gone into overdrive.  If you cannot control your thoughts at crucial moments it will be difficult to overcome fear.  THE best exercise I know to control your thoughts is “watch the thinker” by Eckhart Tolle.  You practice observing and watching your thoughts over a period of time.  The amazing thing is when you become the observer of your thoughts you realise the essence of you is something far deeper (the observer).  If you are the observer then you are consciously able to choose the thoughts or disregard those that are unhelpful and fearful.  This exercise has been a pivotal part in my overcoming my fear of public speaking.  It is life changing. 

5)     Be aware of how you talk.  Talking to people about your fears, how bad you feel and anything else for that matter is not going to help you overcome them.  The language that you use is very important.  The aim is to re-train and programme your subconscious mind.  Your thoughts, words and actions have to be congruent.  There is no point in trying to change your thoughts if all you speak about is your fear/s.  More often than not we think that talking about it will help.  I am all for expressing our emotions but talking about your fears will not help any.  It is self perpetuating.  Remember, thoughts, words and action – all congruent.

6)     Accept your limits.  Limits are fine and perfectly acceptable.  It is wise to get to know these limits.  Pushing yourself too far has the opposite effect of overcoming fears.  You may decide it’s too hard and give up all together.  When you reach your limits, have respect for yourself, pull back a little.  Be kind to yourself.  Change that lasts and sticks long-term is a gradual process.  Don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.  You know yourself better than anyone.

7)     Don’t take yourself too seriously.  One of the biggest things that I see in Toastmasters (public speaking club) is people taking themselves too seriously.  I know when I joined I was one of those.  I have come to the conclusion that it is better to be in the game than not at all.  Being in the game, giving it a go will be a mixture of ups and downs.  When you are in the arena playing you are going to make mistakes.  You will get in wrong sometimes.  This is natural when learning new skills and overcoming fear.

What I know is this! When you go through all of the above and you overcome your greatest fear, you will feel like a different person.  This is what makes it all worthwhile.  So keep taking those steps no matter how small.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
Mark Twain

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About Kelly Niven

Kelly writes about personal growth, spirituality and mental health at Life is Now. Her passion is to help others maximise their mental health as they grow and manage life’s changes. Follow her on Twitter at @KellyNiven.

Comments

  1. Great article!

    Fear is amazing at hindering our ability to achieve greatness. One of the best antidotes I have found is to put yourself in uncomfortable situations, the ones you fear. You are directly attacking your subconscious fears by doing this. The fear is only replaying the demise of you failing this situation, but until you actually do it you will never know how great you can become at it. These same situations or things that you once feared will no longer phase you.

  2. Overcoming fear is one of the important steps that one has to take. If you want to be successful in whatever you do, fear may become that biggest road blocks towards your dream. Inorder to overcome your fear, I think you first have self confidence. You should understand that no one in this world is perfect and everyone is working towards perfection.

  3. I love your post and wish it were just that easy.

    Fear is paralyzing me at the current moment. Mostly on the financial side.
    The irony is I’m ok financially for quite a while. My plan has just been derailed a bit.

    I’m going to print and use these tips

    thanks

    sw

  4. Kelly, your tips are awesome. Fear holds us back to achieve our dreams, to fulfill what we want. Sometimes, we are afraid to take another step forward because we are afraid of the outcome. But what’s great about taking a risk is that it has always a reward in the end. You must really have the courage and take action to face your fears. Remove all the anxieties and feel free again.

  5. Hi Kelly,

    (I’m @wishingwellgift on Twitter, and already following you!)

    Thanks for your post. I really think fear is the single biggest problem when it comes to personal development. Everything always comes back to fear. So having a solid process for overcoming it is invaluable, and hopeful too!

  6. Thank you for relaying your story to us and giving us insight on how to overcome fears.
    For the last three years I have had severe panic attacks which have kept me from doing lots of things and especially with relatives and friends. I freeze up, run away, and think I’m going to go insane literally, not a good place to be. So I am going to have to re-read this posting and actually start doing what you’ve described.
    I’m looking forward to a better me. Thanks.

  7. For me, taking action almost always ends the fear. Face them and many just evaporate!

  8. This was an absolutely perfect post for me land on today. I’ve been struggling with my fear/anxiety for ages. I keep saying I’ll do something about it and I do know what would help, but as you said in the first point, “Make a Commitment.” This is what I haven’t done and you reminded me to do so.

    I believe sometimes you land on a post because the Universe is giving you a nudge in the right direction. That’s the way about today and coming here.

    Thanks for this excellent post and the reminder.

  9. I think because most of us are terrified of taking leaps of faith/change #1 is mandatory.

    Commit no matter what is going to come between you and the end result that you will work through.

    Like I always like to say – Persistence breaks down the walls of resistance.

    Thanks for the great post !

    • Hi Kael, I have found once you make a decision/commitment you then have to burn the bridges. Then there is no road back – you have to keep moving forward.

  10. I find that a good way of reprogramming yourself against fears is challenging yourself to do something, set small goals, and conquer them. Let’s say you challenge yourself to speak to 2 people you don’t know in one day, you do it, it feels great. And as you escalate you start to associate the action with the feeling of accomplishment.

    I almost had a nervous breakdown the last time I did public speaking, it was for a speech contest for a 1600$ travel scholarship. I was shaking like a leaf, and had problems speaking. The thing is, I had kind of decided that if I didn’t win, I was going to kill myself basically. So needless to say the pressure got to me, and I flopped horribly. And while I’m still alive, I have learned that fear of death is not the best motivator… haha.

    • Hi Ragnar

      Yes, you then associate pleasure with the new action rather than pain. This is the way we make any changes in our lives.

      Your story made me laugh – yes none of us work well if we fear death :-)

      Kelly x

  11. Hey Kelly, great to hear you overcame your fears.
    Your experience seems similar to mine. Thought control and pushing out of your comfort zone are what worked for me.
    Thanks for the article.

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