All of us have times when we are afraid of something, and sometimes we can allow these fears to get in our way and hold us back from pursuing what we want. Although fear sometimes can hold us back, we must acknowledge that fear has an legitimate function in our lives, it alerts us to something that could possibly be of harm to us.
I wrote of my fear of driving on the motorway at night in my last blog ‘Is your fear holding you back unnecessarily?’, of how the story I had been telling myself kept this unrealistic fear going for many, many years and how I was able to banish it in one weekend when I decided to handle my fear instead of it handling me.
Here are five steps to consider if you want to start handling your fears:
STEP ONE: Be specific about what you are fearful of.
Fear Tipton Birmingham United Kingdom
For example to say, “I’m afraid of people?”, would not be enough. You need to be more specific by asking questions like, “What kinds of people am I afraid of?” Is it males or females? Is it people I don’t like? You may also want to ask yourself, “In what kinds of situations am I afraid of people?” Is it when I am with a large group, or a smaller, more intimate one?
Being specific about what you are fearful of, helps for two reasons:
- It will enable you to go ahead and do the things that you’ve been avoiding because you have been over-generalising, therefore including all activities connected to the situation that you are fearful with the actual thing you fear, and depriving yourself of the pleasure of those activities.
- It allows you to focus your energy on solving the real problem . By asking yourself questions like, “what am I really afraid of?” Say, you think you’re afraid of women, ask yourself; “What is it about women that frightens me? Am I afraid of something they might do or say? If so, what is it?” Once you are specific about exactly what scares you, it makes it easier to start talking about your fears. Telling someone about your fear, often helps make the fear less fearful.
STEP TWO: Be aware of what you are saying to yourself.
Fear Tipton Birmingham United Kingdom
Most of us probably don’t realize it, but we talk to ourselves a great deal. A lot of this self talk is silent and it is one of the ways we can keep our fears at the forefront of our minds, keeping ourselves afraid.
For example, I was afraid of driving on the motorway once it became dark. I would say to myself, I wouldn’t be able to see because my eyesight wasn’t good enough. I would cause a crash on the motorway, my driving career would be over. I would be predicting what my family and others reaction would be towards me, one of anger, disappointment etc. I was really making myself scared which interfered with my ability to drive on the motorway once it became dark.
9 times out of 10 when we’re afraid of something we’re the ones talking to ourselves and telling ourselves that something bad is going to happen. To turn the fear around, why not consciously tell yourself something positive like, “there is no such thing as failure, only learning what doesn’t work for me”.
STEP THREE: Think of the worst thing that can happen in the situation you are afraid of.
We are all really afraid of the bad effects that come out of the things we fear. For example, if you know you’d like to call someone you’d like to get to know better, socially, but are afraid to pick up the phone to do so, you are probably more afraid of the possible outcomes and be saying to yourself, “If I call, I’m going to be laughed at or rejected. In fact, it can be a lot of fun trying to think up the worst possible outcome imaginable, and then you will realise the world couldn’t possibly be as bad as you imagined it. This is when you will make a decision to do that thing that you feared and if it doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to, there’s a good possibility that the outcome will be even better than you imagined. All You have to do is take the step towards what you feared and see what happens.
STEP FOUR: Do relaxation and visualisation exercises.
Before taking the steps towards breaking any fears, it is useful to learn some relaxation and visualisation techniques. The relaxation techniques will help control your anxiety and put you back in control of your thinking about the fear. The visualisation techniques will help you prepare for facing your fears, I suppose it’s like doing a trial run before hand, seeing yourself behave the way you want to in that fearful situation, instead of avoiding it.
Use the following techniques to help you relax and visualise:
- Take a deep breath while at the same time tensing your muscles.
- Then slowly let out the breath and at the same time let the tension in your body go. Do this several times, allowing yourself to relax more and more each time.
- Once you are relaxed, imagine yourself approaching the feared situation.
- Once you’re able to imagine it well, imagine yourself coming close to the condition or situation you fear.
- Visualize yourself being a little afraid, but still going ahead and engaging in the feared behaviour and coping with it.
Visualisation Strategy 1: It’s important to get a mental picture and a feeling of what it’s like to deal with the situation in a successful way even while you are still feeling a little fearful. For example, if you’re afraid to ask a store assistant for your money back on an item, imagine yourself asking for the refund even though you’re still a little afraid. Imagine yourself in the situation without all the unpleasant consequences you have been scaring yourself with.
Visualisation Strategy 2: Alternatively, you can imagine that you have already dealt with the situation in a successful way and review how you have done it. Having dealt successfully with the situation that has made you fearful in your visualisation, you will feel more confident and less fearful about dealing with the situation for real.
You’re now ready for the last step.
STEP FIVE: Blast through your fear.
You can go for it and change your entire behaviour in one dramatic step. If this is not for you, why not break down your fearful behaviour into a number of increasingly difficult steps. For example, say you are afraid of giving your opinion in class, you could begin by asking the lecturer a question after class. Once you have done this a couple of times, you could ask a question in class, continuing the process by giving your opinion after class. Finally, working up to giving your opinion during class.
Remember, If we learn to control our mind the source of all our fears, healthy and unhealthy, is eradicated.
I hope I have given you food for thought and added a little value to your day! Please leave some feedback, your thoughts and comments are welcomed.
If you would like help to turn your fears around, book your 30-minute Complimentary Clarity Session and discover how you can turn your fears into triumphs – call +44 7415 160086 or fill in this form
Some Boddie Life Coaching is based in Tipton and works with individuals in and around Birmingham and the United Kingdom