Fear talks to people. And when they listen, this is what can happen:
Sheila loved to dance but she wouldn’t go out on the dance floor with her fiancé because she thought she’d look clumsy and ridiculous.
Arnie knew he deserved a raise, but he was so nervous about approaching his boss, he never asked for one.
Delilia’s fear of bears was so great that she wouldn’t go on a camping trip with her friends. And their campsite wasn’t even in bear territory.
Fear is that voice inside our heads that says, you can’t, you shouldn’t, what if…. Fear keeps us from taking risks that might enrich our life or holds us back from doing some things we need to do. Experience new and exciting vistas? Accomplish something really great? Fear says, “Not on your life.”
This isn’t to say that fear is all bad. At its best it’s an instinctive, natural ability to help us survive. Without fear we might attempt to stroll across freeways or scratch behind a lion’s ears. But given the upper hand, fear can dominate our life and make even the innocuous—taking a walk or answering the phone—a daunting experience.
Ninety-nine percent of what we worry about never happens, according to Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. “There’s a voice inside our heads that’s always heralding doom and disaster even before we get started on something,” she says.
On its own, fear won’t disappear. Following are some strategies to help you deal with fears that might be holding you back from something you want or need to do.
- Get information. In an information void, fear clicks in to do what it thinks is its job. But when you find out about what scares you, you replace fear with knowledge.
- Learn how to do it. If there’s something you’d like to do, but you’re afraid to try, take lessons. We’re not born knowing how to ride horses or make pottery.
- Find models. Let someone who’s not afraid model courage for you. Just as fearful behavior breeds the jitters, courageous behavior invites confidence.
- Talk about your fears. Keeping your fears bottled up inside magnifies them. Taking them out into the light can shrink them. Find a good listener who won’t pooh-pooh your fears or make judgments.
- Talk to yourself. Self-talk filled with positive messages can change fear energy into positive energy. Eliminate the cant’s, shouldnt’s and ought-to’s from your self-talk vocabulary.
- Use your imagination. Before you arrive at the party, imagine the other guests are as frightened as you are. Or see your audience as people who really want the information you have. Visualize yourself doing what you are afraid to do; see yourself as graceful, strong and capable.
- Focus on the little things. Keep your mind on the details, not the Big Picture. Complete the report word by word, pay the bills one by one, see the group individual by individual.
- Expand your comfort zone. Take a small risk each day. Make one phone call, ask for one thing you want, go to one new place. Little by little your confidence will expand, too.
- Relax and breathe. Sometimes the physical response to fear creates even more fear. Physically relax your body and breathe in and out to release tension.
- Ask for help. If your fears are pervasive or severe, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, in which case you should definitely seek help. If your fears are not debilitating, but still get in the way of doing what you need or want to do, asking for help can make all the difference.
It’s not that we totally eliminate fear from our lives yet learning to work with it and find strategies that help us learn to respond differently to it can bring some ease back into our lives.
The author of “Forgive Yourself”, Brenda Reiss truly walks her talk. She discovered the power of self-forgiveness when a series of life events put her in a very dark place. Failed marriages, abuse, and severe health issues were just a few of the challenges she faced.
Determined to rewrite her story, Brenda sought answers – and found them in the concept of “radical forgiveness”.
What she learned changed her life forever.
Brenda is highly skilled at helping people find peace in their personal and professional lives. Coupling teachable techniques with forgiveness theory, this certified Radical Forgiveness© Master coach creates an environment which allows clients to release anger, shame, and guilt. The result? An opportunity to live with joy in the present and the future.
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