When was the last time you felt fear? Was it worry about getting sick when so many around you have fallen ill? Was it the agonizing fear that you were going to be fired, your loved one would leave, your finances would tank, your investments fail, that you’d be found incompetent or a failure? Everyone feels fear. Sometimes, though, fear is the last emotion you want to dwell on. Here are some of the ways fear holds you back, along with helpful tips on workable solutions.
1. Fear Keeps You Stuck
No one likes feeling stuck. If you’re unable to motivate yourself to get going, could fear be the reason for your inaction? Are you afraid to succeed or afraid of failure? Is this a new fear or a recurring one? Have you ever been successful before in defeating this kind of fear?
The only way to become unstuck when fear holds you back is to act. There is a way out of this. The key is to figure out what works best to push past this fear and get moving again.
2. Fear Makes You Reluctant to Pursue Your Goals
What happened to the list of things you wanted to accomplish in life? What about your short-term goals, those things you hoped to achieve in the next month, 6 months, or one year? Is fear the reason you’ve put those desired goals on the back burner? If so, you’re dealing yourself an unnecessary blow. Not only are you letting your goals slide, but you’re also giving yourself subtle reminders that you don’t deserve to succeed.
Nothing could be further from the truth. You deserve to enjoy success. By working hard and refusing to give up, you’ll push fear to the background and get back to working on what’s important.
3. Fear is Counter-Productive
The irony is that fear itself never helps you get past the crippling emotion. Also, the more you give in to fear, the less effective or productive you are in most situations. How can you solve a problem or decide if all you’re thinking about is what can go wrong, how ill-prepared you are, or that others will think poorly of you if you fail? Beyond being counter-productive, though, fear is also self-perpetuating. The more you wallow in fear, the more fearful you become.
Recognize fear for what it is. In dangerous situations, it’s a survival instinct that you feel fear. This helps galvanize you to take action to protect yourself and others. Otherwise, fear should not be allowed to keep you from living your life.
4. Fear Makes You More Likely to Repeat Mistakes
It’s okay to be afraid. But if you haven’t learned from the mistakes you’ve made, fear will take over and certainly propel you into repeating those mistakes. Beyond mere repetition, however, mistakes can be compounded by fear. Making one mistake after another can result in a downward spiral that leads to a complete lack of self-confidence and a serious erosion of emotional well-being.
Take stock of mistakes you’ve made. Write down the lessons you’ve learned from those mistakes. These show that you’re capable of making progress. It’s called life. Everyone makes mistakes. There’s no reason to allow fear to convince you that you’re inept or incapable. You’re not either of those. Believe in yourself and give fear the boot.
5. Fear Makes you Doubt Your Instincts
After succumbing to fear, or finding yourself unable to think about anything else, you’re not in the best mental state to trust your instincts. Even though you’ve made good decisions in the past, you’re worried that your judgment is now clouded. Worse yet, you allow fear to hijack your determination to move forward. Rather than trust your gut, you endlessly review in your mind all the reasons your instincts are wrong.
Humans rely on their instincts for more than survival. It’s an inner sense of what to do in a situation that has served mankind well for millennia. You do have good instincts. Try listening to them instead of discounting them.
6. Fear Makes You So Afraid of Failure, You Avoid Acting
Ever hear of being so paralyzed by fear that you can’t do anything? Some people who have a diagnosed mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety, are so plagued by fears that they cannot leave the house. Instead of interacting with others and functioning normally in society, they hide away and shun friends, family, and doing things that bring them enjoyment. When fear paralyzes someone to the extent that they are petrified of failure, they’re more likely to do nothing than take any action.
Remember that inaction is dead-end. By not acting, this is a choice that has profound repercussions. It will not solve any problems and will only worsen existing ones.
7. Fear, Left Unchecked, Leads to Runaway Emotions
While some fear is normal, allowing fear to run your life is not. When you can’t function in everyday situations because your fear stands in the way, your life is out of control. This isn’t sustainable, either in the short- or long term. For one thing, life is less enjoyable. For another, your emotions, sparked by fear, begin to run rampant. You see danger everywhere. You’re less trusting of others. You also don’t trust yourself to make good judgments.
What kind of way is this to live?
Workable Solutions to Overcome Paralyzing Fear
There are, however, effective things you can do to get past the fear that’s holding you back and resume living a joyful life. To be successful, you must dedicate yourself to making healthy choices and take the risk to make changes in your lifestyle, modifying or eliminating unhealthy behaviors, and recognizing that mistakes do not equal failure. Try these tips to overcome fear:
Employ the 24-Hour Rule
No matter what makes you afraid, one effective solution is to use the 24-hour rule. If you’re afraid of an upcoming surgery, for example, think about getting through the next 24 hours and look at your situation then. You’ll be past the surgical procedure and on your way to healing. You just need to think about that 24-hour mark. This technique works in almost any situation. Can’t wait to go on vacation but you’re afraid of the flight? By the end of the 24 hours, you’ll have completed your flight or been well on your way to your destination. No matter how fearful you are, your fears are blown out of proportion. It’s not as bad as you thought. You can make it through this. Countless people do it every day.
Talk it Over with Someone You Trust
Discussing what you’re afraid of is an excellent way to deflate fear and reduce its hold on you. Keep in mind that everyone experiences fear. We’re human and fear is a human emotion. Listening to how others got past their fears can inspire you to do the same. What worked for them in surmounting fear could work for you also. Be willing to give their tips a try. If nothing else, talking it over with someone you trust is a time-proven way to feel like you’re not alone. This helps boost your self-confidence and encourages you to face your fears head-on.
Start With a Small Act
The only way to overcome fear is to act. If the problem is complex or complicated, start with a small act. This will get you going. There’s nothing like momentum to keep you motivated. Making some progress, even small will help boost your self-confidence and encourage you to keep going.
Keep a List of What Works
Even if this is a new fear, there’s likely to be an example in the past of something similar. That’s why it’s often helpful to keep a list of what’s worked before. It may work again. This may require modification to fit the present situation, but you’re up for the challenge. Besides, succeeding in this instance means you’re adding to your reservoir of resiliency. No matter what the situation, when fear rears its ugly head and threatens to derail you, know that you have a stockpile of techniques to use that will get you past the fear.
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