I envy those who are fearless in taking on the world. Most encounters may be met with unsurpassed composure and confidence. They may be headstrong, ambitious and certain. They know themselves and shrug off disappointments and rejections. They have much life experience in these areas or maybe they are robots… :P
I’m in the camp where my mental state goes to alarm bells whenever the scenario is unfamiliar and out of my comfort zone. I was that painfully shy child who struggled with speaking in class, young, neurotic adult who used to find driving to be the most anxiety ridden thing ever and even now, meeting new people can make me nervous.
Our perception of fear originates from our hunter-gatherer days in spotting imminent danger. Any perceived threat will have our amygdalas in our brain sending signals to react in flight or fight mode. It’s our survival mechanism. Nowadays, it’s rare to find ourselves in dangerous situations. So no thank you brain for making me scared of asking that cute girl or boy out, being elected for public speaking or going for that job interview. Encountering any of the above may send your heart pumping; your body becomes a puddle of sweat; your stomach is tied in knots and you are petrified to even take a step out.
How do you cope? Here are some tricks and tips that may work for you:
Perceive fears as ongoing challenges to become a better person. Fear is inviting you to step up and do your best to succeed. Keep pushing forward and take those risks. You’ll never know until you try. Believe me, regret is far worse and may leave you stagnant. If you need a little pep talk, Shia LaBeouf is here. This never gets old. :D
Break down the fears if possible. Break down the situation into manageable chunks to gradually expose yourself to that fear. For instance, as a kid, my dad used to challenge me to order fast food on my own. First few times, he would stand next to me for moral support as I fumbled through my words. As I became more accustomed, he would simply hand me the money and allow me to order on my own.
Confront fear over and over until it is normal and boring. Sometimes new situations are unfamiliar to us in the beginning and we build up so much thinking around it. Even though you may not feel 100% ready, you need to keep facing your fears and anxieties until they do become familiar. After all, it may not be as bad as you make it out to be! Think about all the times you were nervous in a new situation, such as starting a new job, and now it’s easy like breathing.
Be okay with failure and rejection. Everyone will go through this and it’s a natural part of learning and growth. As long as you put your best foot forward, do keep trying. Never be afraid to repeatedly “fail” on what’s important to you. Normal people, like the man who made a game out of rejection, and even famous people fail.
However, sometimes… and I do emphasize sometimes, failure is a sign that we’re on the wrong path and we may need to switch tracks. Maybe there is something else in store for us, instead of hitting against a brick wall. Or we may want to change our strategy altogether.
Love quiets fear. Remember that you are your best friend, ally and support. You have everything within your power to do great things. When you are feeling anxious, you could comfort yourself. Say “It’s ok, I will handle this!” Repeat this over and truly feel those words resonate throughout your being. Whatever situation(s) you choose to take, you are showing the world your value, talents, skill and definitely courage. By becoming self-compassionate, you gently bracing wildest adventures that await.
Heartfelt breathing to calm down. This may be a useful technique that can be employed anywhere, especially before big moments of anticipation. Place your hands over your heart centre. Close your eyes and breathe in, allow the love within your heart to flow throughout the body. When you exhale, blow air out with your mouth as if you are cooling off hot soup. Let go and release the tension. Repeat as needed for as long as required. You could also cold diffuse aromatherapy oils, known for bringing down fears, such as clary sage, neroli or orange.
Or reframe fear into excitement! A Harvard study by Brooks in 2014 says that since fear and excitement are both arousal emotions (heart beating faster, cortisol increases, etc.),it’s better to convince yourself that you are excited than trying to calm down. Excitement places you into an “opportunity mindset” opposed to “threat mindset” according to Brooks. This technique may not work for everyone, but it’s worth a try.
Power Posing to regain confidence. One of the most popular TED talk, Your Body Language Shapes Who you Are by Amy Cuddy, speaks on how simply changing your body posture and language to embody the feeling of empowerment. In other words, fake it until you make it.
Try bach flower remedies to gently shift your fears. Remedies specific to fears include Rock Rose, Mimulus, Cherry Plum, Aspen, Red Chestnut and White Chestnut. Read each description to figure out which bach flower remedy works for you. Bach flower remedies can be purchased at your local health food store and how to take the remedies can be found here.
Fears and anxieties are like the looming friend who clutches onto your side. By working with fear, we have the potential to go beyond what’s expected of us. We must remain steadfast and understand how fear is challenging us to seize opportunities. Fear as a teacher encourages us to develop self confidence and become wiser as a result. If we stay in our box, we may not grow and we will never know.
Since it’s fearless Friday, what is your greatest fear? How have you overcome your fears?
Alana Chin Lue
I am a holistic health and reiki practitioner finding inspiration and wisdom through personal development, health and wellness, spirituality and life.