Fear is something we have all experienced. From; fear of the dark, to fear of flying in airplanes, riding in elevators, to walking around the city and even fear of success. No one is immune to fear. Some people have a healthy level of fear that they are consciously aware of and able to control while others, unfortunately, are at the mercy of fear and anxiety’s death grip, ceaselessly choking all the joy and excitement out of life.
There are 2 types of fear;
Type 1 Fear is what keeps us alive and away from danger, like jumping out of the way of an oncoming train.
Then there is Type 2 Fear, which is what keeps us anxious, scared and unable to enjoy everyday life. I still vividly recall when I developed the life altering Type 2 Fear.
It started out just another typical spring day here in Georgia. The weather was beautiful. Clear blue skies with only a few fluffy white clouds and I fully remember the warmth of the sun on my skin and the feel a nice steady breeze as we were on top of the building overlooking parts of the city. I was 23 years old and working for my dad and his painting and remodeling business.
I was about to repel down the side of the building and pressure wash it so we could repaint it to restore its beauty again. I started to descend down the side of the building to begin working. After I located my starting point I released my grip of the lanyard to stop and that is when everything took a turn for the worse.
The lanyard did not hold and I began to fall 4 1/2 stories to the ground rapidly! Without even thinking I grabbed the rope to stop my fall but it was to late, all I received for my quick thinking was severe rope burn on both of my hands. The next thing I remember was lying there on the ground and I began praying and then wiggling my toes and fingers to make sure I still had control of them.
After this incident I found it very hard to ride in elevators, climb ladders, or be higher than a few feet. I remember even getting the anxious feeling coming over me even watching a movie or video game where someone was falling to the ground especially if it was in the first person point of view. I wanted to get back to living my life the way it was before the fall.
I read everything I could get my hands on about fears and anxiety and how to overcome them and I stumbled across a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that read, “Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain.” I thought to myself, “How do you do that? How do you actually do the thing you fear the most or what causes you anxiety?” After more research and trial and error I discovered how. Read on and you will learn how to overcome fear and anxiety too.
The Powerful 5 Steps for Overcoming Fear and Worry Today
Stop and Breathe!
Stop and recognize what your fear is. What exactly are you afraid of? Be consciously aware of what your fear is and give it a name. Once you are aware of what an obstacle is it is easier to overcome it. Then Breathe. Breathe in slowly and pause briefly when you have fully inhaled and filled your lungs with air, then exhale slowly and take a slight pause at the end when all of the breathe has left your body. Do this several times and you will begin to feel more and more relaxed with each breath you take. Breathe in slowly then exhale for twice as long as your inhale. The importance of controlling your breathing is discussed extensively and practiced in yoga and meditation.
Breathing in and exhaling slowly sends signals to your brain that you are cool, calm, and collected.
Ask yourself some straight forward questions about your fear, and answer them honestly. What is this fear costing me physically? What is it costing me financially? What is it costing me in my relationships? What would happen if I let go of this fear, now? How will my life change? What areas would be better if I let go of the fear? How will these areas be better? How would I feel about myself if I let go of the fear and truly lived my life to the fullest? What would be the first thing I did if I let go of my fear?
Also, ask yourself, "What is the worst thing that could happen?" Most of the time we have fear, anxiety, and worry because of the unknown. The "unknown" is what causes those dreaded life suffocating things. But, when you become enlightened with knowledge then you become free.
This is the fun part. Now visualize exactly how your life would be different if you no longer had this life crippling fear. Visualize exactly how you would act if you did not have the fear. Visualize doing the thing that once caused you fear, fearlessly and full of confidence. If you can’t picture yourself in the first person point of view then you can try to visualize watching yourself do the thing that once caused fear. Get all of your emotions involved. Feel confident, good, happy, and powerful while visualizing.
You see, the brain doesn't know the difference between fantasy and reality. All it knows is what you tell is true. That is the reason you can recall a past memory and feel the same emotions all over again. Or, watching a movie and getting scared, excited, or sad. So, use this to your advantage. Think of a time that you felt confident and empowered and then think of doing what you feared, fearlessly. It will begin to rewire your brain in a way that you will fell better and overcome the fear.
This is a very important step. The mind will believe whatever you tell it. A belief does not have to be true to be believed. A belief is only an opinion that was reinforced enough times until it became a belief. A fear is only an opinion that was reinforced by you, media, or peers. So be mindful of the chatter that goes on in your head.
A powerful technique I teach my clients is The 3 R Technique. Realize. Reject. Replace. This technique will help you change the way you feel in the blink of an eye. Once you Realize you are having a negative thought, immediately Reject the negative thought, and Replace it with something positive. This will change the state you are in from a negative state of mind to a positive state of mind. For example, if you are afraid to ride in elevators and you start to think, “I cannot ride in this elevator, what if it doesn’t open?” Realize it is negative and we do not want negative statements occupying our mind, reject it, and then replace it with something like, “I am completely calm and enjoy riding in elevators because they get me to the floor I want to quickly and safely.”
Thoughts create emotions. Emotions create actions. Actions create our future. Change your thoughts and you change your future.
It is now time to take action. (Within reasonable safety boundaries, of course. If your fear was flying a plane and you have not taken any flying lessons then you might not want to give that a shot just yet.) If it is riding in an elevator then, you can begin slowly. First, go to a location that has an elevator such as a hotel or office building. Then go to the elevator and get on but you do not have to go all the way to the top floor just yet if you are not ready. Just press the second floor and only ride up one floor and get off. When you get off of the elevator smile and enjoy the victory you just had. Feel the joy and let the confidence build up inside of you. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
Fear is only real if we believe it is real. Most of the time what we fear never actualizes in our lives anyway. We are the creators of worry and fear in our lives. This is something I had to realize and overcome in my own life, not only with the fear of heights that was developed after falling and breaking my back, but also when I battled with a pretty serious case of anxiety. I prayed and I practiced this simple formula that I just shared with you.
I overcame the fear and anxiety I had in my life and I feel confident you can too.
You are Stronger Than Failure, Danny Cole