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How to Fight Your Fears

Photo by Krisztina Tordai

Fear is one of my favorite topics. Much of my time has been spent understanding this emotion and how I can overcome my personal fears. A sense of personal empowerment, accomplishment, and fulfillment surges with each fear I face.

The most important fact about fears that we should always bear in mind is this: Fear is not a rational response to whatever challenges stare at us in life. And it is all in our mind, within us, and not anything external to us.

The purpose of fear is to protect us from life threatening circumstances. For example: to run away when there’s a bear chasing us, or to be careful when handling live electric wires.

Fear can cause us to make an irrational response to challenges we face. Fear imposes limits on our minds, removing our clarity and leaving only negative thought patterns. Fear causes us to act emotionally because we panic, our mind shuts down and we respond instinctively to protect ourselves and our egos.

Fear hinders us in situations where there is no direct threat to life, but we might perceive a threat to our life as we know it. Fear of failure is one of the most crippling emotions that can limit your potential in life. Fear of social censure makes one feel lonely. Fear of heights takes away the joy of reaching mountain peaks and touching the clouds.

A personal story: I started photographing people, because I had a deep fear of approaching people and capturing intimate moments. I used to tell myself these stories: “I wasn’t good enough” and “Why would anyone take me, an inexperienced photographer seriously?”. I essentially created this fear because I didn’t want to “look stupid”. I eventually conquered this fear by doing it despite the fear. I used to regularly approach strangers on the street and ask to take their portraits. The first time I did this, I was shaking so hard, the picture came out blurry, but what I gained was priceless: Momentum towards a new skill and eliminating a fear. I learned that the more you do what you fear, the less you will fear it! Now, two years later, I shoot people portraits professionally and have been published in several publications for my portrait work.


Here are some tried and tested tips on how to fight your fears:

• “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” – The best method to fight any fear is to take positive action against whatever it is that you are afraid of. Is fear of failure stopping you from learning that new skill? Go ahead and learn it! This is what courage is all about: to act despite the fear. (I highly recommend Susan Jeffer’s book)

Educate Yourself – Learn more and more about the object that you are afraid of. You want to chuck your job and plunge into your own business, but are afraid of the risks involved? Then the best way to reduce the fears is to consciously learn about the business in as much depth as you can. Preparation increases confidence and calms those butterflies in the stomach. Just be aware of “Analysis-paralysis” (I will cover this topic in more depth in future posts from my own experience.).

Affirmations - Use self-affirmations that give a positive spin to whatever it is that you fear. Write these self-affirmations on a stick-it note where it is easily visible. Say you are afraid of criticism from others, then one possible self-affirmation could be – “I am outstanding. I must be outstanding for all the people I will help.”

Visualization – Positive visualization is projecting an image of yourself overcoming your fears, and is a powerful technique to fight your fears. If you are afraid of your boss, visualize that your boss is smiling at you, appreciating you, and complimenting you of a job well done. Keep this image in your mind firmly.

• “What’s the Worst Case Scenario?” – Often when this question is asked, you realize how silly the fear is. Example, if you are afraid to ask someone out on a date, what’s the worst that could happen? The other person saying “No”? It’s not that bad, right? One of my most enlightening realizations is recognizing that “I have nothing to lose”.

In my experience, we can always fight our fears, win, and get ahead in life.
What do you think?

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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64 thoughts on How to Fight Your Fears

  1. Anthony

    Great read-fear kills me, yet perks me up at the same time because of how Batman comes to use it in the DC universe. :-)

    Visualization always frustrates me though…..citing an example from back in high school-I’d picture girls I had a crush on saying all the right things, actually liking my presence, holding hands, going out with me etc.

    Only to find that all went BLATANTLY the other direction…

    Oh well-I’ve been out for awhile..gotta look forward to a new life on non-fear sometime…

    I find my biggest fears lies in arguments online-and showing off my creative work to others..I run from the former, and keep the latter to myself..

    But damn it-I’m gonna and wanna suck it up someday and say, “Hey Mr. Ornstein-HERE I AM!”

  2. Jelena

    Hi Tina,

    I really liked your article ^_^ its really inspiring to see the way you overcame your fear. Unfortunatelly I kept finding myself uncapable dealing with particular fear I have — it always comes to rear its ugly head. Each time I end up acting irrational and destroying relationship I have. I act over emotional, my mind shuts down, its crazy really. I become emotionally out of control.

    I’m going to follow your advice and act despite a fear. I really wanna make it this time and make challanging situation I’m facing into positive one. I wanna deal with it in a mature and healthy way, and deal with my feelings in a way that will create positive experience. I dont want fear to stop me from living my dream. I’m going to make this particular fear I have that’s holding me back into an opportunity and embrace it.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us, It really helped me.
    xox

  3. I heard once that the real sense and meaning of the word FEAR could be broken down like this:

    F=False

    E=Evidence

    A=Appearing

    R=Real

    When I first heard that description of fear a long time ago, I said to myself “That seems to speak truth within me, but if fear is false then why does it seem so real?

    I determined that real is just a sense (a belief, a perspective, a expectation, which gives rise to what is experienced), it means nothing “in and of” itself. Like a dream seems real while you are having it, until you wake up.

    Every time I see, one of those stickers that read, “Fear this!” I laugh and think to myself how silly it is to fear anything inside this dream. Why would you want people to fear you anyhow? I mean looking into the history of the world, people have done some shocking and destructive things while under the influence of fear!

  4. Chine

    I’m always sacred to return to school. My course freaks me out, and i don’t know what to do. Please someone helpme.

  5. Bob

    Great advice.
    Personally, what has helped me immensely in overcoming many of my fears is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy(REBT). REBT immediately came to mind after reading this paragraph:
    “The most important fact about fears that we should always bear in mind is this: Fear is not a rational response to whatever challenges stare at us in life. And it is all in our mind, within us, and not anything external to us.”
    That quote excellently sums up REBT. If you’ve never heard of REBT, then I suggest looking into it. It has profoundly changed my life for the better.

  6. rk

    hi tina

    i feel it good thank u nd i need a help from u plzz telmme how to creat trust on my girlfriend?

  7. Kailyn

    I’m shaking so much because I promised my friend I would go on a water ride called “The valley of fear” Today and I’m going soon and it’s sooo scary…and I just searched up “How to loose fear and get confidence” Heh…well…Wish me luck guys and who’s ever reading this!!

  8. Mike Brown

    Ive got a fear, that somebody is out to harm or hurt me. I dont know who they are, where there from. But im scared out my life, im looking out my window every day and seeing really mean looking men. The sort that could crush a scull. Im so scared i cant leave house. The sad thing is i aint done nothing wrong to nobody, n when I come to think about it I come up with all sorts of daft reasons, nothing to justify the extent of my fears. I just want to live in peace with my girlfriend. Any advice for that sort of fear.

  9. I absolutely need to follow these rules. Normally I’m very confident but I have had some bad moments lately and from time to time I need someone to encourage me to follow my dreams. I actually added you everywhere I could! I really need a person like you right now in my life.

  10. this article is beyong the expression :D
    it’s amazing :)

  11. after had read ur aticle based on fear i became more strong and i can overcome every challenge that comes on my way.

  12. Wow i think this is the coolest website, this was exactly what i was looking for, thank you soooooooooo much, i just hope and pray i can overcome my fears as well, …….. thanks again keri

  13. sandy

    Please help me ??? I’m scared of the ship I work on sinking. I’m scared of water and I can’t swim !!! What should I do ??? I work on a cruise ship I will be at sea for months. The longest I’ve ever done is week and that was only over the Atlantic to florida but this time we are going the other side of the world. .. I’m scared something mine happen , terrorists attack, sinking , drowning !!

  14. neal

    Hey Tina I want to use some of the info on this article for a presentation I am doing do you mind giving me the date this was published? Thanks

  15. Joo

    I’m nervous in going to school. I’ll try your advices. I really thing it will help me.

  16. Good post however I was wondering if you could write
    a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Many thanks!

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