Fear breeds more fear. One of the things you can guarantee is that if you feed your fears they will grow exponentially. The reason for this is quite simple. On a very basic level we are wired to self protect. When we believe we may face a potential threat to our wellbeing, fear is there to protect us.
But, what if our perceptions of what is really scary are skewed by negative past experiences or by inaccurate beliefs? By testing this theory – you can dramatically reduce fear in your life for good.
How to control fear
The easiest way to beat fear is through evidence. Your self preservation mindset will find it very difficult to push you towards fearful events, unless you can convince yourself that your fears are irrational, or that despite your fears, your actions are still in your best interest (or in the best interest of others you deeply care for).
Imagine you have developed a fear of heights. Each time you come close to being up high, you become anxious and avoid the fearful situation. This avoidance reinforces your anxiety because you quickly learn ‘if I get scared, I can run away’. Now, let’s say years go by and now you have a child. Your child begs you to go on a very high waterslide with her, but your fear of heights debilitates you, so you say no. You feel terrible for disappointing your daughter and feel even more ridiculous when you see her brace the high slide alone without you. In this scenario, you avoid your fear and allow it to continue to manifest.
However, what if you challenged your fear? What if you provided enough evidence to show that you wouldn’t get hurt (eg by telling yourself “if my daughter can do it, so can I”). Even though you were scared, you now know your fear is irrational. You brace the high slide. You’re shaking all the way up the stairs. You sit in the slide position and let go. You make it to the bottom of the slide safely. You’re still shaking, but you did it. Two weeks later, your daughter asks you to go on a much smaller slide (one that previously terrified you). At first you become anxious, then you remember how you braved the big slide. The fear of this smaller slide only lasts a few seconds and you slide down it happily. You have proven to yourself that this fear was irrational and you no longer feel scared. That one leap of faith – with evidence to back you up – was enough to break through your fear and reduce other anxieties that had been previously holding you back.
This example illustrates the best way to overcome fear – through evidence. In order to break through fear, you MUST convince yourself that everything is going to be OK, or at the very least, that you can handle the outcome – whatever that may be. So the next time you feel scared, see if you can challenge your fear and take one small step towards removing fear from your life.
If you live your life in fear, are you REALLY living, or just avoiding life? We can’t control our lives. We can shape and influence them, but we can’t control how other people act around us, external life events and circumstances. BUT… we can choose to live in the present. We can choose to use fear RATIONALLY and question whether the things we are truly scared of are rational, or irrational. If you know in your heart a belief is irrational (such as being scared to say “no” to someone even though you know you have a right to), then this is the time to test the evidence and prove to yourself that you don’t have to let fear rule your life any more.
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