I first would like to congratulate you. By reading this you have taken the necessary preliminary steps to battling your inner demons.
If you have clicked on this article, you have a desire to prevent fear from controlling your life. No one should ever let fear dictate any part of his or her life.
If you scrounge through the Internet for an answer on how to combat fear you will find many fixes ranging from acupuncture and hypnosis to therapy. They’re not worth it. I’m not saying they can’t help. They can. But the best way to deal with fear is to look it in the face and make it your own.
Not only will this help you defeat fear, you will turn it into something that you can wield as a weapon as you advance through life.
Consider the following 7 steps:
- The Diagnosis
You’ve already begun the first step. The first step to defeating and taming your inner demon of fear is to identify it.
What are you afraid of? Is it uncertainty? Is it failure? When does your fear demon come to the surface? Take note of yourself and record what you see.
This is war and the intel you acquire about yourself is essential for victory. You may ever name your fear demon, so it is easier to associate characteristics with it. Later steps will require that you have a base of information to pull from when confronting your inner fears.
- Pause and Breathe
I know how frustrating it is to hear, “Just take a deep breath!” or “Just relax!” when you are experiencing anxiety. The truth is breathing isn’t enough, but it is a necessary step in your reprogramming process.
That’s what we will be doing; we will be reprogramming your brain to handle fear differently. Before this happens, you need to return your breath to a consistent deep breathing pattern. This is the frequency at which the rest of your body will operate. You want it to be deep and slow instead of shallow and fast. You want your body saturated with oxygen. When you are ready, you can go to the next step.
This word means something different to everyone. I don’t mean you need to sit cross-legged and sing Kumbaya. But if that is what works for you, than power to you. Find your own meditation.
Your breathing has prepared you for this. You have calmed your respiratory system. What’s next is to calm your mind. Just like controlling the pace of your breathing, you need to relax your brain.
Think about how your mind gets when you are relaxed in a nice warm bath. Thoughts come and go with ease and you aren’t chasing anything. Your mind needs to become a casual observer to your thoughts. Find peace and tranquility. You may still have the fear in the back of your mind, but you are in a peaceful state.
- Analyze and Connect the Dots
In step one you diagnosed your fear demon. You maybe even named it. You familiarized yourself with it. You know it well. You know it plays tricks.
Your little fear center makes you quit when you shouldn’t and you know it makes you scared to try new things. You know your fear demon prefers that you stay in your little comfort zone bubble. But you also know that these thoughts and emotions come from your fear demon, not from you.
You have gained space from the little chattering voice of fear through meditation. It is easier to identify and see which thoughts come from you and which ones come from this unwelcome fear department.
Connect the dots and tell yourself which thoughts and emotions are coming from your distracting fear demons, and tell yourself which thoughts and emotions are welcome to stay.
- Edit Your Thoughts
Now you know which thoughts and emotions are welcome to stay and which ones are coming from an unwelcome source of fear.
Let’s consider a popular example. Maybe you are going to talk to a pretty girl for the first time. You notice she is very pretty and that she is wearing a baseball cap so maybe she likes sports. Maybe you think she’s a little out of your league because of her appearance and her confidence. She’s a pretty girl who likes sports so you think there’s no way she would waste her time with a guy like you.
The thought that she is out of your league is your fear demon. The little fear demon is scared, it doesn’t like rejection. It is a coward, but you are not. You are trying to face this demon, that fact in itself tells us you are not a coward.
The thought that she likes sports is a welcome thought. Now you’re not scared, you have edited out the unwelcome fear thought. You simply know she’s a pretty girl who likes sports. So go up to her and talk about last night’s game. Fear’s thoughts aren’t here to slow you down because you have edited them out.
- Transforming Failure into Fun
When you are editing your thoughts you may be uncertain whether or not a thought is worthwhile. While there are many thoughts that need to be edited out, a main one is the fear of failure.
Not only should you ignore this fear but also you should change it. Any fortune 500 company CEO will tell you about his or her countless failures. There has never been a successful person who hasn’t crawled through the spiky thorns of failures. But someone who has made it through the thickets will tell you how they secretly longed for it.
Collecting failures is the best way to find success. The number of your failures amplifies the magnitude of your success. For this reason, failures are really a good thing. There is something to be learned every time. Rejoice with your failures, and soon you will find you no longer fear them.
- Anxiety is Nothing But Perspective
Physiologically, anxiety and excitement are nearly identical. It’s the same adrenaline in both scenarios. The only difference is what you call it. If you call it anxiety you will be anxious and worried. If you decide it’s excitement you will use that adrenaline to your advantage.
The night before your first day of school will produce the same chemicals in your brain. You are in charge of which emotion you default to. When your heart is racing it is not pounding out of fear, it is dancing out of excitement. Change this framework in your mind and you will find that fear is replaced by excitement.