How Do You Overcome Fear?

confronting fear

How do you overcome fear? How do you deal with fear of your situation or fear of the future?

In my last post I talked about the Stockdale paradox and coming to terms with the brutal facts of our situation. That is the first step in addressing our fears.

When one looks at the reality of where we are it can be scary at first but as you take think everything through logically it can start to dispel those fears.  We need to ask ourselves, Ok, so what is the worst that can happen? If we analyse the problem in this way we can put things into perspective as often the worst thing is not that bad after all.  We can also start to plan and work out how would we would act if the worst case scenario was to happen.  In this way we can confront our fears.

Confronting fear

Confronting our fears helps us to avoid either living in a dream world or being crippled by limiting assumptions.

As the Japanese proverb says:

Vision without action is just a dream; action without vision is a nightmare.

We need a clear vision and we need to understand the assumptions we have that either enable or limit our actions.  Sometime negative assumptions are referred to as defeater beliefs but I think it is more helpful to think of them as assumptions as belief can have more fixed connotations and if negative, these thought patterns need to be challenged.

For example, when trying to introduce a change in your professional life you may face fears about your job, your promotion prospects or your financial security.  This can trigger thoughts such as “I can’t do that – I would lose my job!”  This is reasonable enough, as losing one’s job can have major consequences, but make sure you think it through.  You may well find that:

  1. If you are smart about how you do things then you probably don’t need to lose your job, or
  2. That it would be worth the risk as you do not like your job anyway, or
  3. You are pretty confident you could find a new and better job

There are plenty of other defeater beliefs that we could add in here such as:

  1. “I won’t be able to pay my mortgage/student loan/credit card bill/monthly subscription to Sky Sport*”, or
  2. “My boss/parents/family/imaginary friend won’t let me*”, or
  3. “I will lose my friends/the good favour of my colleagues/the respect of my dog*”

(*delete as appropriate)

Overcoming fear

Whatever fears pop into your mind when you look at your present and future situation make sure you capture them and interrogate them fully.  Assess each of them to see how real the perceived threat actually is. This way we can overcome fear.

We also need things in balance. Therefore when considering the ‘where’ question we keep one eye on the present and one on the future; one on the location, one on the vision.  The dream of the future needs to be compelling enough to draw us forward, no matter what the challenges are that we face, and we will be looking at this aspect of ‘where’ in a future post.

Which fears have you faced and overcome? Which would you like to overcome?

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