There are 2 types of fears you can face in life. Genuine fear, for instance coming across muggers in a dark alley, and false fears, those fears that hold you back from going after whatever it is you desire. Unfortunately false fears can end up controlling your life. You may dream of going after a promotion but your fear holds you back. You may dream of travelling abroad, but your fears stop you.
To lead the life you truly desire and deserve, you need to learn how to face your false fears.
Where do false fears come from?
False fears are formed from your negative self-beliefs. These come from that little voice that tells you “If you try public speaking you will humiliate yourself”, or “You aren’t good enough for that promotion”, or “You are a loser”.
These negative beliefs about who you are and what you are capable are created over time. From childhood experiences through to your adult life. For instance if you experienced an unsupportive childhood and were constantly berated, you may have believed those negative messages about who you are. By taking on these messages as your self-beliefs, you would probably be less likely to take chances and embrace change when you are older.
Adult events can also lead to you having negative self-beliefs. For instance being in a bad relationship or working in a toxic environment, they can all chip away at your self-confidence and lead you to doubt your abilities. Your self doubt fuels false fears and prevents you from going after what you want.
Unfortunately false fears are like a rapidly spreading disease. Start to believe them and they can paralyse you into inaction. They eat away at your self-confidence and soon you start questioning any action you are considering.
Facing your fears
To take control of your life and stop your fears from controlling you, you have to analyse the validity of your fears to see if they are justified.
Logically analysing the problem
The first step is to identify the benefit or positive outcome from the situation. Ask yourself “What if I was successful?” List all the ways a positive outcome will impact you. For instance if the problem is public-speaking then by being successful you may gain credibility amongst your peers and your boss might recognise how knowledgeable you are and give you a promotion.
Then look at the negatives. Ask yourself “What is actually the worst that can happen?” For instance in my public speaking example you may find yourself listing things like forgetting your speech, not being able to answer questions, or fainting.
Take each of these scenarios and ask “What if it happens?” For instance what if you faint, what will be the outcome. Think of both the physical and emotional impacts.
Then assess each scenario to see if it is really that bad if it happens. Think about the longer term impacts and how you could overcome them. For instance fainting would be embarrassing in the short term, but if you got up, had a drink of water and then started your speech again the true impact would be minimal.
Minimising the risks
A way to reduce your anxiety or fear is to do all that you can to minimise the risk of the worst case scenario from happening. For instance if you are going to do public speaking then do as much preparation as possible. Rehearse your speech over and over until you are confident with it.
Ask yourself how you can prevent the scenario from happening. If you don’t have any idea on how to do so, look at ways others have minimised the risk in the past and choose the methods you think suit you best.
After getting to the heart of your fear, learning how working through it will benefit you and assessing the worst case scenarios, you still need to decide: Are you going to face your fear, or are you going to let it control you?
Only you can make that decision, just remember though if you chose to confront your fear now it will make it easier to confront other fears in the future and that can only help you grow as person.