How to Manage Fear

Although fear is a useful tool, it can also become debilitating or hinder us from experiencing many of the good things in life.

How to Manage Fear

Your palms are sweating, your stomach is turning and your mind is racing for the quickest escape route.

Fear has set in.

This very real emotion impacts and influences all of us, some on a daily basis and others only under a specific set of conditions. Although fear is a useful tool to prevent us from putting ourselves in harm's way it can also become debilitating or hinder us from experiencing things in life that otherwise we would get immense joy from.

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Let’s take a minute and try something together.

Imagine yourself in a situation that causes you a sense of fear or anxiety. For me I can easily work myself into a fret when I picture myself standing on stage in front of hundreds of people. Imagine all of the potential problems or unpleasant feelings that may arise in the situation. You have just realized you forgot your cue cards and that your speech time has been cut in half. Two people in the very front row are talking to one another laughing and making rude gestures. You feel as though you have already failed.

Take note of how you feel.

Now breathe three times, in and out.

Now you are back on the stage, you are looking cool and confident. You are so excited to be there today to share with this audience what it is you have planned to talk about. Whether you have cue cards or not doesn’t matter because you know this speech inside and out and are ready to inspire everyone there. You look out and see people smiling back at you anticipating what you are about the say to them. You’ve got this!

Take note of how you feel.

Now breathe three times, in and out.

Did you notice that when you imagined yourself on stage the first time you actually felt uncomfortable and maybe even upset even though this experience didn’t really happen? Did you notice that when you switched the scenario around you felt safe, in control and maybe even had a smile on your face?

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When we imagine the outcome of our fears taking place our subconscious mind builds associations between these experiences and the negative and potentially threatening things that may arise. Every time we think of our fears with an unsuccessful or negative outcome we are further solidifying the danger our subconscious associates with these situations. We literally feel as though these events have taken place even when they haven’t, which then instigates a very appropriate response for us to avoid them.

Alternatively when we imagine ourselves in control of these situations, enjoying and succeeding in them, we are building new patterns of association as a foundation for further enjoyment. Just imagining ourselves in this situation can bring a sparkle to our eye and feelings of satisfaction.

This reprogramming technique over time becomes our new default thought pattern. Our subconscious mind now says ‘Hey, this isn’t so bad. I think I enjoy what is about to happen.’

Learning to cope and even excel under conditions of fear can transform the way you approach all areas of life that you may have felt held back from because of the discomfort and dread you associated with them. When you build new patterns of thinking about your fears, you build new patterns for experiencing them. Things that seemed impossible all of a sudden become possible because you are in control of how you decide to experience them. Now when you are faced with new or unnerving situations you have the confidence to overcome them knowing you have already managed other fears times before.

Challenge: Think of a fear that has held you back in the past and decide that from this day forward it will no longer be an obstacle to the life you want to live. When this fear comes to mind decide to only imagine experiencing feelings of confidence, success and happiness!