3 Simple Steps To Overcome Fear
Courage To Overcome Fear
There’s an Ethiopian folktale that tells the story of a young boy, Miobe, whose name meant “frightened one”. His parents gave him that name because he was so afraid of everything around him.
Miobe didn’t like the name and decided that he needed to face his fears. His journey led him to a village where everyone was cowering by the side of a mountain because of the monster that lived there. With his heart pounding, Miobe goes up the mountain to defeat the monster.
As Miobe gets closer to the monster, instead of looking bigger, it grows smaller and smaller, until at last, he stands before a small wrinkled toad with large frightened eyes.
Sometimes that’s what our fears are like… they appear monstrous until we stare them in the face.
Even still, knowing this doesn’t necessarily make it easier to overcome them.
How To Overcome Fear
Fear is a big problem for a lot of people – especially women.
While I’ve never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, I’m no stranger to fear…
I know what it feels like to be immobilized by my fear.
And the funny thing about fear is that you never grow too old or too skilled to feel it. Every time I step out to do something new in my business, I need to face my fears again and again.
So how can we overcome our fear? How can we kick it to the curb?
Well, I find that often times it’s the simplest solutions that work the best. And I’ve found that this simple strategy works well for me:
Step #1: Acknowledge Your Fears
This is such a simple step but very important. For, we can’t deal with what we don’t admit is there.
For instance, it’s like the elephant in the room… something we don’t want to talk about or deal with, so we skirt around the issue.
But as long as we don’t admit our fears, they will continue to have power over us.
Whereas, as soon as we acknowledge our fears, we’re beginning to face them and they hold a little less power over us.
Remember, it’s okay to feel afraid. Just don’t build a home there.
One of the secrets that I’m learning by being part of the John Maxwell Team is that it doesn’t matter how accomplished someone is, how many degrees they have or much experience they’ve gained, when people step out into something new, the normal response is fear.
However, the difference between those who stay stuck and those that continue to grow and reach their is that the latter do things afraid. They face their fears and keep growing.
And that’s who I want you to be! I want you to keep growing in spite of your fears.
So, start by acknowledging your fears. It will help to break some of its power.
Step #2: Stop Feeding Your Fears
In Yellowstone National Park, there are signs warning people not to feed the bears. You’d think that people don’t need to be told not to feed a grizzly bear but well… “common sense isn’t so common”.
The reason I bring this up is because at first, our fears are like a bear cub. They may start out small but if we keep feeding them, eventually they’ll grow to become larger and more scary.
Instead of constantly thinking about what we’re afraid of, we need to learn how we can cut them off.
For example, I can feel it in my body when it’s coming…
Early in our business, my daughter told me in a meeting that I needed to get on video and do Facebook lives. I absolutely did not want to do these! But soon enough, I agreed to try them. Without fail, each time before we went live, I could feel myself panicking, my heart speeding up and my mind beginning to race.
Thing is, I could have given up there and refused to do the Facebook live videos. But then the next time something scary in business would come up (at least for me), it would be harder for me to do it. And pretty soon there would be a very long list of things I’d be afraid of.
Instead, by facing my fears, I’m building up my resilience to face other fears down the road.
So, the sooner we can deal with our fears as they come up, the better and the less scary it is.
Step #3: Identify The BS Behind The Fear
My mentor, Paul Martinelli, talks about how we need to regularly examine our BS (“belief systems”) as they are one of the most insidious things that holds us back.
Often times, our fears are based on lies and limiting beliefs about ourselves.
- “I’m not smart enough to apply for that job.”
- “I can’t influence others because I have nothing to say.”
- “I’m too old or I’m too young to start a new business.”
The downside of allowing these thoughts to live in our heads is that fear hangs its hat on these lies and limiting beliefs. Then, it gives fear the right to be at home in our thought lives.
A practical exercise I find helpful for identifying my BS is to journal.
First, I write out the fears that I’m struggling with. Next, underneath the fear, I write out the truth based on who I am and Whose I am.
(Now, I’m a person of faith, so I include a faith element in this exercise. But if you’re not a person of faith, you may want to skip that part and focus on writing the truth about who you are.)
So it might look something like this:
- Fear: “I’m not smart enough to apply for that job.”
- Truth: “I have five years of experience managing a team and we have always exceeded our goals.”
- Fear: “I can’t influence others because I have nothing to say.”
- Truth: “I have a unique and valuable story to share that the world needs to hear.”
- Fear: “I’m too old or I’m too young to start a new business.”
- Truth: “I’m never too old or too young to learn. And today is the best day to try something new.”
Don’t ignore the voice in your head — answer it with the truth of who you are and you’ll eventually silence it!
Spend Time With People Who Conquer Their Fears
Practicing the three steps above can take you a long way in fighting your fears. And the more you practice facing them, the better you’ll get at it.
And of course, because I value community, I want to encourage you to find other people who will encourage you to overcome your fears, whether that’s through friendship, a mastermind group or a one-on-one coach.
The people who we spend our time with makes a big difference.
If we’re surrounded by people who are constantly afraid or have a scarcity mindset then those tentacles of fear will reach into our minds too.
Rather, we need to fill the spaces in our minds with positive thoughts and people and by doing so, retrain our brains. Because we are what we think.
Start Overcoming Fear Today
Overcoming fear is simple but certainly not easy.
But fear will only win if you let it, so start conquering your fear today: confront the lies, fight the limiting beliefs, and replace fear with the truth.
As Nelson Mandela said:
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave [woman] is not [she] who does not feel afraid, but [she] who conquers that fear.”
When we bring our fears into the light, it helps us to fight that fear and to defeat it.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not a medical professional or a counsellor and this article should not be taken as medical or counselling advice. If you are struggling with constant and severe anxiety, please consult a medical professional.
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