It’s easy to pretend fear isn’t influencing you and to make excuses as to why you haven’t achieved what you’re capable of. Instead of turning around and hiding from it, treat fear as a cue to take action, not an excuse. Look at your goal. If you let fear chase you away from achieving it, then you’ve effectively given in.
Fear of uncertainty, fear of failure, and other common fears all stem from one area: the limiting beliefs holding you back. Ten steps will teach you how to conquer fear and move you closer to the life you want.
THE PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND OVERCOMING FEAR
Learning how to overcome fear and anxiety can be an intimidating prospect if you don’t understand the mechanisms behind them. Before you berate yourself for feeling afraid, recognize that fear is a normal evolutionary response. Although it may not feel like it in the moment, your body and brain are communicating with you. When you learn to read the signals, conquering fear comes naturally.
Tony Robbins has helped millions of people learn how to overcome fear and start creating lives they love. In his vast experience, fear goes beyond the physical signals we often feel in a scary situation. There are several types of fear that are much more insidious.
When most of us think of fear, we think of physical threats, triggered by a known outside event – a loud noise, looking over the edge of a high place or standing in front of a crowd. Physical fear can even take the form of phobias – as many as 12% of adults experience a phobia at some point. Phobias are an extreme fear of a very specific situation, object, or animal. Spiders, heights, public speaking, and enclosed spaces are a few well-known phobias.
During a physical fear response, you’ll feel your heart beat faster and your breathing quicken. You may feel a pit in your stomach, feel dizzy, sweat or get a dry mouth. Your muscles may feel more tense or weak. These are all results of your body’s “fight or flight” response. Without the fear response, you’d leave yourself wide open to danger. Yet in the modern world, fear can take many other forms – and some of them aren’t as obvious.
Think of anxiety like long-term fear. It’s typically focused on the future rather than the present. Anxiety disorders are on the rise in America: As much as 18% of the population is affected each year. Anxiety and stress can have long-lasting consequences: When you live in a state of stress, your body releases a chemical called cortisol. Too much cortisol can cause problems sleeping and focusing weight gain and even affect your immune response.
For many of us, risks like taking the leap into a new career, letting ourselves be vulnerable in a relationship or even investing our hard-earned money can cause generalized anxiety, where you have difficulty falling asleep, can’t concentrate, and replay the same scenarios in your head over and over. But what is the root cause of these thoughts? Tony has found there are several types of fear that can be deeply ingrained in the psyche.
FEAR OF UNCERTAINTY
At our core, all of our thoughts, decisions, and behaviors are driven by Six Human Needs. For many of us, certainty is our most powerful need: We want to know what is coming next. And while we do need some certainty in our lives, we also need uncertainty and variety. Fear of uncertainty prevents us from getting out of our comfort zones. It tells us, “You might as well stay here, where it’s safe.” And it’s the real reason why many people feel stuck, unable to achieve their goals.
FEAR OF FAILURE
Fear of failure is another common fear that stems from the human need for certainty, as well as the need for significance. We are wired to avoid pain and gain pleasure – and avoiding failure is surely an easy way to avoid pain. We want to feel significant, but failure makes us feel small and unimportant. Yet we’re also wired for growth, and as every successful person on the planet knows, failure leads to growth. You must shift your mindset on failure to think of it as a positive, not a negative.
HOW TO OVERCOME FEAR
Conquering fear means harnessing the fear response and using it to your advantage. Learning how to conquer fear begins with finding your center. Here are dependable tips to overcome fear and anxiety so you can live life to its fullest.
1. IDENTIFY YOUR FEARS
Learning how to overcome fear is much like any problem-solving challenge in that you must identify the challenge in order to overcome it. What is it you’re afraid of? Sit quietly for a few minutes and observe your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Write down what comes up, and be as specific as you can. Consider embracing a daily mindfulness meditation practice to gain greater clarity on what drives you. As you find your center, you’ll feel empowered to confront your fears.
2. RECOGNIZE THAT FEAR CAN WORK TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Our emotions exist to tell us things. When you feel fear, your soul wants to tell you something – so listen. If you feel overcome by stress or distracted by subtle-but-persistent anxiety, it’s likely a subconscious fear that needs your attention. Rather than avoiding it, overcoming fear requires leaning into your anxiety. View the fear as a piece of information instead of a threat to your survival. When you use anxiety to your advantage, it can’t ruin your life. In overcoming fear, it becomes your ally – a critical source of guidance to reach your full potential.
3. SIT WITH YOUR FEAR
There are times for action and times for reflection. Acting too quickly to overcome your fear can lead to behaviors that do more harm than good, like reaching for a drink, indulging in comfort food or even repressing the feeling entirely. Next time you feel fearful, do nothing. Sit with your fear for a few minutes. Think about it. What is the root cause? Is it fear of uncertainty? Fear of failure? What is the story you tell yourself about why you can’t overcome this fear? A moment of reflection can have a great effect on overcoming fear in a way that is productive, deliberate, and effective.
4. CREATE GOALS THAT ARE “MUSTS”
Oftentimes the process of overcoming fear becomes stymied by uninspiring or elusive goals we set for ourselves. To turn this around, ask yourself: What does the life you desire and deserve look like? Is it just a “someday, maybe” plan or do you actively work toward it? Is it something that is attainable and you’re willing to commit to? The first step in overcoming fear is identifying whether or not you’re creating a compelling goal. If you accomplish this, will you feel fulfilled? Conversely, if you don’t accomplish this, will you be lost?
Dig deeper into your goal. What is your ideal outcome? Is it financial growth – more money in the bank? Maybe you want the financial independence to travel anytime, anywhere? Consider what your life will look like if you don’t achieve this outcome and compare it to what your life will look like if you do. Once you feel that your goal is essential, the fear of not making an effort eclipses the fear of failure – that’s when you’ll be inspired to act.
5. RECOGNIZE THE EXCUSES
Fear makes you put things off. “I’m really tired. I have other stuff to do. It’s a dumb idea anyway.” These excuses probably sound familiar, don’t they? You’ve probably said this out loud and to yourself. Think about it. Is there any truth to these statements, or are you constructing excuses to avoid potential failure? It’s much easier and less painful to make excuses than it is to put in the long hours and energy it will take to work toward your goal, but excuses and opting out will ultimately leave you feeling unfulfilled. If you want to find out how to conquer fear, you need to take a different, proactive approach.
Recognize when you are using excuses and figure out how to overcome them. Too tired? Adjust your schedule so you can get a better night’s sleep. Not enough time? Assess your priorities and find out where you can make time. And the next time an excuse comes to you, make the decision to not give in to the little voice telling you “No,” because it won’t help you grow in the long run.
6. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SUCCESS
Tony says that “Proximity is power.” This is also known as the law of attraction, or the idea that, in essence, you become the people you surround yourself with. Tony puts it another way: “Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life.” If you’ve turned your “shoulds” into “musts” and recognized all your excuses but still aren’t sure how to overcome fear and put your goals into action, it’s time to examine your focus.
People who are focused on overcoming fear and achieving their dreams surround themselves with others who have the same mindset. These are people who you not only look up to but who will push you to achieve your goals. To overcome fear, you need to raise your standards – and allow others to hold you accountable.
7. ADOPT A GROWTH MINDSET
When you’re afraid, you tend to stay in one place. What if you make a mistake? What if you fail? You start to believe you can’t progress at all, that you’re incapable of it – the fear holds you back. One of the most powerful tips to overcome fear and anxiety is to adopt a growth mindset. It’s not about achieving your goals and being perfect every step of the way. No one is ever perfect all the time, so stop striving for that. It’s about getting comfortable with what you don’t know and continuing anyway – this is the foundation of a growth mindset.
As Tony says, “No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow your progress is, you’re still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.” As you work to overcome fear, you will realize that there will be lots of trials and tribulations along the way. As soon as you’ve accepted that the path to success includes growth and change, you’ll be one step closer to attaining your goals.
8. FIND VALUABLE INSIGHT INTO PAIN
No one likes pain. Most of us go to great lengths to avoid it. But pain is a profound teacher. If you accept that your life and your efforts to achieve your goals will be painful at times, painful experiences become opportunities for growth. When you let go of pain as a threat to your survival, it loses its power and becomes another tool for overcoming fear.
Everyone experiences hardships in life. It doesn’t matter whether your setbacks are personal or professional – what matters are the lessons you take from those experiences and how you apply them to your future. Instead of letting fear of uncertainty due to your past experiences dictate your decisions, actively choose to learn from those painful moments to be in control of your own life.
9. VISUALIZE YOUR GOALS
You’ve done the mental work: identifying the real reasons you’re holding yourself back and determining your must-haves in life. But overcoming fear requires that you practice these habits daily so they will lead to true action.
Tony says, “Identify your problems, but give your power and energy to solutions.” Goal visualization is one of these solutions. It’s used by some of the most successful athletes, actors, and entrepreneurs, like Michael Phelps, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, and women’s soccer star Carli Lloyd, among others.
Goal visualization sets your focus – and where focus goes, energy flows. It can take the form of priming, meditation, or imagery training. The important thing is that you see yourself succeeding and fully immerse yourself in your goal. You’ll condition your brain to believe that anything is possible – a key step to overcoming fear.
10. ACCEPT THAT YOU’LL FAIL
What’s the number one fear people have when it comes to accomplishing their goals? That they’ll fail. But like pain, failure can teach us. In fact, failure is often a better teacher than success. If you accept from the onset that failure is an inevitable part of success, you’ll be less afraid of it. Failure can provide you with valuable learning experiences that will positively impact your future strategies.
Everyone fails. Successful business owners. World leaders. Prominent chefs. Artists and scientists and doctors. Our society shies away from talking about failure, and instead celebrates successes; this creates the false impression that to be truly successful you must never fail. But part of overcoming fear is recognizing that everyone on the planet – including those you know and admire – has encountered a failure on their path to greatness. The quicker you realize your fear of failure is preventing you from making the decision to accomplish your dreams, the sooner you’ll be able to accept the possibility of failing and move on.
How you respond to fear is what sets you apart from the rest of the crowd. Break through your own barriers at Unleash the Power Within, where you’ll learn how to overcome fear and tap into your inner power.