Fear Can't Be Eliminated; It Must Be Managed. Here's How To Do It.




Fear is an annoying little demon that likes to harass people daily. At some point, everyone has felt it.  No one is immune to fear.  Presidents, parents, firefighters, farmers, and everyone else all feel fear.  What makes people more successful than others is the emotional discipline to manage fear, not avoiding it.

Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, once said, "Everything you want is on the other side of fear." He is so right.  Fear keeps us in our comfort zone and away from growing.  I know that in my own life, fear keeps me from trying.  It holds me in a state of mental paralysis.  It's a daily battle for me.  Noam Shpancer, Ph.D. advises that the only way out of fear is through. Avoiding or attempting to go around fear is ineffective.  He argues that "On the psychological level, confronting your fear instead of backing down brings about a sense of accomplishment and empowerment." Exposure to what makes us fearful is the best way to confront our fears.  Avoiding fear is no way to overcome fear. Shpancer states that "... living in the prison of avoidance isn't easy either, and it isn't much of a life."

That means if I fear trying and failing, I need to try and succeed. Not trying is already failing.  It may seem obvious in hindsight or an outside perspective, but sometimes it isn't if I'm mentally preoccupied by my circumstance.  In order to increase my chances of succeeding, I need to make myself mentally tougher so I can handle whatever challenges are thrown (or hurdled) at me.

Geoffrey James of Inc. recommends these 4 mental tricks: value courage over security, differentiate between fear and prudence, treat fear as a call to action, and reframe fear into excitement.

Feeling secure in avoiding fear keeps us stagnant.  James advises to decrease the value of security and increase the value of courage.  Prudence is the rational fear that keeps us doing anything dangerous, immoral, or illegal.  Prudence is good to have.  Being able to distinguish the difference between prudence and irrational fear is a valuable life skill.  Knowing that the best way to manage fear is to go through it, think of fear as a call to action instead of a signal to stop.  Feeling fear is an opportunity to overcome it.  When you feel it, you feel an adrenaline rush that is physically very similar to feeling excitement.  It empowers you to change your perspective.  Instead of "feeling fear," tell yourself that you're excited.  You are excited to dive head first into a breakthrough.

There is an old adage that says, "Fear keeps us from love and love keeps us from fear." I wholeheartedly believe that's true.  Fear keeps us from moving towards a life full of love and vice versa.  Love keeps fear away.  Keeping focused on our goals moves us toward the life we love and away from what we fear.

After all, fear doesn't keep us from dying; it keeps us from living.


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References

Canfield, Jack. Chicken soup for the soul: 101 stories to open the heart & rekindle the spirit. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 1993. Print.

James, Geoffrey. "How to Conquer Fear: 4 Mental Tricks." Inc.com. Inc. Magazine, 30 July 2012. Web. 17 May 2014. <http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/how-to-conquer-fear-4-mental-tricks.html>.

Shpancer, Noam. "Overcoming Fear: The Only Way Out is Through." . Psychology Today, 20 Sept. 2010. Web. 17 May 2014. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-therapy/201009/overcoming-fear-the-only-way-out-is-through>.

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