Fear can be an ugly beast that holds us back from trying new things, but it’s also what keeps us safe. We need fear. We just can’t let fear run our lives.
It’s all about balance.
Do you feel paralyzed by fear? Like you can’t quite get up off the couch without worrying that you something terrible will happen to you or a loved one? If so, fear is running your life.
Fear can also run your life in ways that are less obvious. If you feel like you’re stuck in a dead-end job yet can’t bring yourself to apply for something better, you’re letting fear get the best of you. We all do it, but it’s time to stop.
Here are some tips to stop letting fear run your life:
- Respect your fear – This one seems counterintuitive, but it’s important. Fear is what stops you from jumping from a two-story building or walking down a dark alley in a bad neighborhood. Fear plays an important role in keeping us alive. When we talk about controlling fear, this isn’t a battle. Fear will remain by your side for the rest of your life. Embrace it and learn how to use it to your advantage.
- Weigh pros and cons – Get in the habit of weighing pros and cons of every situation you find intimidating. This is a good way to figure out whether your fears are founded or holding you back. For example, if you were to weigh the pros and cons of jumping off that two-story building, you’d probably keep your feet grounded. On the other hand, weighing the pros and cons of a new job will probably push you to submit your resume. Pros and cons help us figure out which fears are helping us and which are hurting us.
- Surround yourself with encouragement – There’s comfort and security in numbers. When you hang out with people who are only as daring as you, you’re likely to stay exactly where you are. Try hanging out with people who have made more adventurous life choices. Maybe you’ll see through them that things aren’t as scary as they seem. People who take risks are also more likely to encourage you to do the same.
- Focus on your journey – Fear of failure is a big one for most people. It may keep you from starting a business, asking someone for a date or trying a new sport. Fear of failure is one of the most paralyzing fears around. But if you focus on the journey instead of the destination, you won’t worry quite as much. When you embark on anything new, success is your destination. Maybe you’ll land a new job, build a successful business or become an MVP on your team. There’s nothing wrong with hoping for success; just don’t get so caught up in the destination that it’s all that matters. Even if you fail, you can find small successes in the journey. Consider every lesson a success, and you’ll worry less about failure.
- Meditate – Meditation has many well-documented benefits for the mind and body. It is well-known for helping with relaxation and reducing anxiety, but at least one study shows that meditation may also be effective at reducing fear. Harvard researchers found some interesting structural differences in the brains of people who participated in an 8-week meditation program. After their 8-week meditation program, people showed a thickening of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory and empathy, and a reduction in the amygdala, which is associated with fear and anxiety. Another study found that meditation was successful at reducing patients’ fears of cancer returning.
- Trust in the good – It’s easy to give in to fear when our lives are filled with negative news stories. But did you know that really great things also happen on a daily basis? It’s true! Seek out the good in the world, and your perspective will naturally shift. Instead of watching traditional news, skim headlines online and then search for positive stories. Spend more time on sites that promote good news like the Good News Network or Daily Good. The more good you see, the more good you’ll believe.
Fear is a good thing and a dangerous thing. It’s up to us to keep a good balance in our lives to help us move forward without putting ourselves in danger. You need just enough fear to keep you from making risky decisions. Anything more than that and you might be letting fear run your life.
Try the six tips outlined above to help keep your fears in check. And just imagine the amazing journey that will unfold when you stop letting fear run your life.