The most important purpose of fear, which is to help us stay safe, has served humankind faithfully ever since the first people roamed the Earth. It represents our fight-or-flight response to dangerous situations, heightening our awareness and sharpening our senses in moments when it matters the most. This is why, contrary to widespread perception, fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
However, fear can also hold us back and affect our lives negatively. It can hurt our relationships, prevent us from embracing new experiences, and obstruct the opportunities for personal and professional development.
Here are the best 6 ways that can help you boost your courage and prevent fear from taking over your life:
1. Name, understand, and accept your fears
Facing and fighting your fears is an uphill battle, so don’t try to accomplish it all right away. Putting too much pressure on yourself can be quite counterproductive, so make these powerful words your mantra: Easy does it.
The first steps you must make are to recognize what your fears are, understand why they’re present, and accept them. You need to learn to forgive yourself for not being a “fearless warrior” ready to tackle any stressful situation like there’s nothing to it. After all, no person in this world matches that unrealistic description.
2. Distinguish reasonable from unreasonable fears
As mentioned in the introduction, fear has historically served humans by helping them distinguish situations that represent certain risks from the ones that don’t. It had a crucial role in keeping human lifespan as long as possible, which was quite useful, and still is to this day.
There are many levels of danger our bodies and minds pick up on, from purely physical to more sophisticated existential ones. Any situation that presents a potential risk for our wellbeing is usually a reasonable fear (like fear of heights, wild animals, or getting fired and ending up without the income you need to live). Unreasonable fears, on the other hand, like fear of clowns, birds, or ghosts, can only make your life more difficult instead of making it safer.
Distinguishing reasonable from unreasonable fears is a vital step in getting your fears under control, whether you do it on your own, with a friend, or an experienced professional.
“Fear comes from uncertainty. When we are absolutely certain, whether of our worth or worthlessness, we are almost impervious to fear.” – William Congreve
3. Analyze what you can control, avoid, or change
There are many fears you can control by controlling situations when they happen. Our fears can sometimes even suggest the best course of action that fits our needs and preferences. If you’re not comfortable in crowds, speaking in front of large audiences, or spending time with highly competitive people, perhaps you should consider careers and events that don’t put you on the spot.
Although avoiding things and situations that scare you isn’t always the best thing you can do, sometimes it might just be. There’s no need to go against the tide every time you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, fear can be a direction towards a better alternative.
4. Step out of your comfort zone
Although there’s no need to push yourself to overcome every fear you might have, running away from every situation that feels slightly uncomfortable won’t help you get far in life. The goal isn’t to prove your fearlessness, or shelter yourself from any challenging situation altogether. You need to achieve a healthy balance between respecting personal preferences and limitations and supporting your growth and development.
To make sure you’re not passing through life avoiding everything you fear, you must step out of your comfort zone from time to time. It’s best to try getting over smaller fears first, gradually moving towards the ones that represent bigger challenges.
5. Let go of the paralyzing perfectionism
Some fears have nothing to do with our physical wellbeing, but with our values and sense of worthiness. If left unmanaged, such fears can ruin chances of meeting new people, getting the jobs we want, or sharing valuable experiences with the world around us. These fears often arise from the need to do everything perfectly, without making a single mistake along the way.
Perfectionism, the notion that things need to be perfect to be good and worthy, often brings along more bad than good, and it can be a source of various fears that prevent us from becoming who we need to be. Give up the idea of perfect deeds and perfect people. It’s only holding you back.
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield
6. Embrace uncertainty like an adventurer
There are two ways to perceive uncertainty in life: You can either let it turn into fears that control you, or embrace it as a wonderful aspect of life that lets you live your own adventure. Become your own best friend and give yourself the motivation you need to live each day to the fullest. Nothing can ever replace the love and care you need to provide for yourself.
Fear can make you stronger, more attentive, and resilient, or bring you down and limit the possibilities life has in store for you. Although this choice is entirely up to you, overcoming fear and turning it into a useful trait rather than suffering from its sometimes crippling effects is often easier said than done.
Luckily, there are numerous mechanisms that can help you manage your fear instead of letting it affect your life negatively. Try the proven methods suggested above, bravely step out of your comfort zone, and get ready to experience and enjoy your life to the fullest.