How to Overcome Fear in Life
Unfortunately, we don’t live in paradise. The three most common fears are family illness, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. And this makes sense! After all, sickness can shorten our lives and time with loved ones.
Fear can even be helpful when it comes to dangerous situations, inciting our response to flee and protect our bodies. However, fear can negatively impact our lives if left unchecked.
Here are some of our favorite ways to overcome irrational and all-consuming fears.
Did you know that not all fear is created equal?
Fearing getting injured is a natural fear that exists to keep you from harm. However, you can also fear things that don’t directly affect your wellbeing.
For example, you may fear having awkward social interactions or certain nasty individuals. These situations are not physically intimidating. However, they are unpleasant. This can result in a learned fear of social situations.
These could also be signs of a social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorders are usually accompanied by a fear of appearing embarrassing due to showing anxiety symptoms.
Neither fear nor social anxiety is easy to overcome. However, we’ve found a few specific tactics that help reduce fear when it flares off in everyday life.
1. Define Your Fear as Helpful or Unhelpful
Our first step to overcoming fear in life is to set time aside to identify your fears. Now, this doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to wallow in the fear without direction. Instead, sit quietly with your thoughts and walk through the following questions.
Am I scared of something that could physically hurt me? Am I scared of something likely to happen? Am I scared of something out of my control?
If the answer to all of these questions is no, your fear is likely unfounded. Spend some more time recycling through these questions in a calm, collected voice and focus on your breath. This can help reduce your fear at the moment and become a healthy response to fear in the future.
Keep in mind that even if the answers to these questions are all no, it is still possible that your fear is not completely unfounded. This could be true in the form of emotional or manipulative threats.
If any of your answers are yes, or you believe your fear does have ground, consider seeking a mental health professional for an expert opinion as well.
2. Reframe Fear as a Growth Opportunity
One of my favorite quotes about fear comes from Eleanor Roosevelt. She once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” This quote carries an important message of resilience and progress.
What if the quote said, “Do one new thing every day,” instead? This sounds more enticing than having to do something scary, doesn’t it? However, tackling one fear per day is a perfect way to reduce fear in your life overall.
Take an inventory of some of the most common fears in your life. Focus on fears that are controllable and don’t affect your physical health.
Are you scared of asking someone on a date due to a fear of rejection? Maybe scared of trying on pants and learning your new (or old) pant size? Try recognizing these fears and reframing them into positive opportunities.
Don’t worry about getting rejected. Asking someone out could lead to a wonderful date, or help improve your communication skills! Trying on those pants will help you confirm your current pant size. This can help you make more accurate weight goals and purchase pants that are worth the money.
It will take time and practice to reform your thoughts into opportunities, but doing so can make every day more positive and enjoyable.
Looking for more inspirational quotes to help you tackle fear head-on? Give our previous post, 46 Inspirational Quotes About Fear, a read.
3. Overcome Fear by Redirecting Your Fearful Thoughts
While fearful and intrusive thoughts can vary in content and definition, there is some overlap. Intrusive thoughts cause great distress and worry by convincing you that you may commit acts outside of your moral compass.
Fearful thoughts are a bit different as they may have no overlap at all with actions or inactions taken by you. You could be consumed with fear of external actions or fear of yourself.
So what can we learn from intrusive thoughts that may help us address and move past fearful ones?
Anxiety and Depression Association of America members Martin Seif, Ph.D., and Sally Winston, Psy.D. have a few suggestions. When it comes to intrusive thoughts, they recommend accepting the thoughts as non-representative of you as a person.
Then, they recommend letting the thoughts pass naturally, giving yourself time to process. Finally, return to the task that you were working on before the intrusive thoughts arose
All of these steps can also be applied to working through fear and fearful thought. In addition to attempting to return to the previous task at hand, consider switching to a new task after a fearful thought arises. The change can help reset your mindset for the rest of the day.
Overcoming Fear in Life, One Day at a Time
Whether it’s in overcoming fear or writing a novel, remember that progress is non-linear. You will have better and better days, followed by perhaps a low point. And that’s okay!
When it comes to fear, intrinsic or learned, it can be extremely hard to “flip the switch,” off. By defining your fear as helpful or unhelpful, you’ll be able to logically decide if the fear is worth your time. Next, by reframing fears as growth opportunities, you’ll be able to motivate yourself to try new things and tackle safer fears head-on.
Finally, redirecting fearful thoughts is not a shameful way to move forward. After all, we all get stuck in bad moods some days and need an outlet to get back to base.
Ready to learn more about yourself and your mind? Check out the 5 Abundance Mindset Exercises That Will Make All The Difference .