How to Be Fearless

Fear is something that certainly has its place in our psychology and in our evolutionary history, it was particularly useful as a way to prevent us from touching flames, petting lions or jumping of cliffs; all of which are things that could be quite unhelpful for our survival.

Today though, we live in a much safer environment where the chances of encountering lions are much slimmer. Thus we have much less need for the kind of paralysing fear that we once had and find that more-often-than not it now actually gets in the way of us performing optimally. Now fear kicks in when we think about leaving our unrewarding job, standing up to someone who has been walking all over us, or asking out someone who we find attractive. Fear makes us risk averse, and in many situations this prevents us from actually fulfilling our full potential.

But then there are those out there who are able to face up to their fears and continue to take on chances in-spite of them. The question is how you become more like those people and get your fear back under your control…

Fear Setting

Our fears largely come from our brain simulating worse case scenarios. What happens when we think about going up to someone we’re shy to talk to, or quitting our job, is that we then start worrying about all the different ways that could go wrong. We think about how embarrassing it would be if they said no, and we think about how much money we could lose if our dream career didn’t work out. Thus we end up either not taking action at all, or taking action in a nervous and uncommitted fashion.

But if you really think about those fears, you’ll find that they’re unfounded often and in many cases somewhat abstract. In other words, if you were to really think about those fears and what they would mean were they really to happen, then you’d find that actually there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place.

So when you really think about getting rejected by that person who you’re nervous to ask out, you’d realise that it wouldn’t actually be the end of the world as you wouldn’t have to see them again anyway.

Likewise if you think about quitting your job and things not going well and really ask yourself what that would be like, then you’ll probably realise that you could quite quickly find a part time job or even ask for your old-job back. Even if you couldn’t get your old job back it might only mean moving back in with your parents if you’re young and single, or having to cut back on your expenses for a while.

Really think about your fears then and ask yourself whether they’re actually founded in anything. Once you hash them out, you’ll probably discover that they really aren’t as bad as you thought they were. Essentially this is just a form of ‘cognitive restructuring’ which is a popular technique used in cognitive behavioural therapy.

Contingency Plans

Another way to make yourself a little less afraid of the daunting possibilities surrounding the things that make you nervous is to ensure you have contingency plans in place. These should be designed to ensure that even the worst-case scenarios won’t be completely terrible. For instance if you’re afraid of your partner leaving you, then just have a plan in place to make the best of that situation. If you’re scared about losing your job, then just make sure you have a list of other career options perhaps in the form of contacts you can reach out to. If you see opportunities rather than things to be afraid of, then suddenly you stop acting out of fear and find yourself enjoying the moment much more.

Using Fear

If you are struggling to get completely on top of your fear, then instead you might consider using that fear as a motivating factor. For instance, if you’re afraid of leaving your job and striking out on your own, then you could decide to flip that on its head and think instead about your fears involving not leaving your job. For instance how scary to you is the prospect of getting to the age of 50 and still being stuck in the same job? Of having a heart attack from stress? Or of seriously ruining your back from sitting in an office chair all day? What about the prospect of becoming overweight and miserable?

If you can focus on these fears – which are much more real by the way – then you might find that the same thing that was standing in your way becomes a motivating force for good and helps you to change your life for the better.

Desensitisation

Really though, the very best way to overcome fear is simply to expose yourself to it more often by gradually pushing your comfort zone and trying new things. The more you experience that feeling of discomfort that comes with mild fear, the more accustomed to it you will become and the less power it will have over you. Want to be more confident in social settings? Then start speaking more to checkout assistants and other people who you aren’t trying to impress. Want to have that fearlessness that lets people throw themselves off of waterfalls? Then practice diving off of higher and higher diving boards. Eventually you’ll find that you don’t get the same nerves as you once did and that you’re as close as possible to being truly fearless – at least in that situation.



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Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki is a full time writer who spends most of his time in the coffee shops of London. Adam has a BSc in psychology and is an amateur bodybuilder with a couple of competition wins to his name. His other interests are self improvement, general health, transhumanism and brain training. As well as writing for websites and magazines, he also runs his own sites and has published several books and apps on these topics.

Follow Adam on Linkedin: adam-sinicki, twitter: thebioneer, facebook: adam.sinicki and youtube: treehousefrog

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