“A thousand fearful images and dire suggestions glance along the mind when it is moody and discontented with itself. Command them to stand and show themselves, and you presently assert the power of reason over imagination.”
–Sir Walter Scott
Are you your worst enemy? Have you ever allowed fear to prevent you from doing something you wanted to do, or going somewhere you wanted to go? You know what I’m talking about, that knot in your stomach that starts to form shortly after the excitement of dreaming big.
Unfortunately, many of us have given fear the power to hold us back from taking risks, following our dreams, or in extreme cases, becoming successful at anything we attempt to do.
What many people fail to realize is fear is nothing more than a conditioned response. It’s a natural reaction to a perceived frightening or unfamiliar situation. While it is usually automatic, there are things you can do to overcome your fears.
Check your expectations
One major contributor of fear is expecting the worst. Do you usually find yourself expecting the worst in every situation? When you go out for a run, do you think about everything that could go wrong or do you focus on your strengths and capabilities?
If you make a conscious effort to expect the best, see the positive side of each situation and keep reminding yourself you can handle more than you often think, you’ll find yourself with much less fear to deal with. Even if feelings of fear manage to creep into your consciousness, you’ll still be able to keep them in perspective and balance them against an underlying sense of confidence.
Discredit your fears
The majority of things you fear will never come to pass. Let me say that again. The majority of things you fear will never come to pass. While this may be true, it sure doesn’t feel that way when fear has a choke-hold on you! However, if you look a little more closely at your fears when they arise, you may be able to dismiss at least a few.
For example, if you have a fear of public speaking and your boss wants you to give a presentation at work, you might feel like your life (and perhaps your livelihood) is on the line. You may fear getting fired, or worry that your colleagues will lose respect for you if you don’t do a good job.
But is any of this really likely to happen? In most cases, it is not. Rather than worrying about what “might” happen if you don’t give a solid presentation, you might brainstorm ways to help improve your performance, such as being well prepared, practicing your delivery on friends and family members, writing notes to yourself and so on.
Do the very thing you fear
When you remember fear is simply a feeling, it loses much of its power. It can’t harm you and except in truly threatening situations you can choose to ignore it and move forward anyway. A potentially threatening situation would be walking down a dark alley at two O’clock in the morning in a neighborhood known for it’s crime. Certainly, not all threatening situations are as obvious as this, but you get the point.
Unless your life is in danger, keep fear in perspective.
Another thing you can do is weigh the pros and cons in any situation. You may decide the possibility of negative consequences is minimal so there’s nothing to stop you from ignoring your fear and going for it! This will be determined by you on a case by case basis, of course. The point isn’t to become reckless with your decision-making but to empower yourself to know when fear is groundless.
Repeat a mantra
Using mantras is one of my favorite techniques. ‘Man’ means mind and ‘Tra’ means wave or vibration. Mantra Meditation is a science, i.e., it is a technical practice that results in a predictable and reliable outcome or experience. I use mantras to not take things personally, to quiet my inner critic, and to push past fear. One of my favorite mantras is by Bill Cosby. “Decide you want it more than you’re afraid of it.” To further illustrate how I use this mantra, I created the below video.
So, you see there are many different techniques you can used to push past self imposed limitation. Don’t let fear keep you from running a 10k, half marathon, marathon, ultra-marathon or doing anything else you want to do. Remember, you are bigger than your fears.
What self imposed limitations are you going to shatter?