Fear can be an incredibly useful emotion. When our ancestors caught a glimpse of orange wending through the trees, fear told them it might be a tiger and they would flee to safety.
However, in modern times, fear all too often becomes an insurmountable barrier to achievement. Fear of a tiger is a rational fear. Fear of public speaking? Not so much. After all, no one has ever died from talking to a group.
How Did We Get To This?
We are not born fearful. An adult who cannot swim will panic when dropped it into water but drop a baby into water and it will begin to swim all by itself. It has not learned fear and thus it instinctively knows what to do.
Our fears come from life experience. Our brain is very good at identifying patterns in our lives – it’s what it’s for. Every moment of every day, we are taking in more data than our brains can easily interpret.
So, the brain develops short cuts to interpret data. It decides when we should be fearful without consulting us about how rational that fear is.
The Good News: You Can Take Back Control
Just because the mind runs on autopilot it doesn’t mean that you can’t take back control of your mind. When you do, you can also stop fear in its tracks.
You can turn every decision into a real choice - one between love and fear.
Our current age is full of anxiety and depression; these are the end products of fear.
Imagine being free to choose another path, to override the natural instincts of the brain and to push forward in a world where you can make almost anything happen.
Begin By Being Mindful
There are no tigers in the modern urban jungle. You are not, in the main, under any immediate threat of death or mortal danger. This means that the fear you feel is not the kind of fear you need to feel.
To seize control of your fear you can begin by taking stock of the now. Right here and right now is as good a place to start. I want you to look around you and really pay attention to what’s going on. Listen to the noise around you and take that in too.
Now say to yourself, “I am safe. Nothing here can hurt me. Right now everything is fine.”
You can do this at any time you like. It is nearly always true that when we feel fear there is nothing to fear in front of us. Recognising this can enable us to start implementing deeper strategies for a life without fear.
Step Away From the Information Flow
Social media and smart phones keep us “always on”. The problem is – we weren’t designed to be “always on” constantly comparing ourselves to others and constantly under bombardment of endless amounts of (mainly useless) information.
It is fair to say that one of the easiest ways to reject fear in your life is to cut down on the use of modern technology. That’s not to say “give it up” but rather to say “keep it in moderation”. Live a real life among real people; you’ll see benefits immediately.
Finally, Find Positive Beliefs To Reinforce Yourself
Fear is often us saying, “I can’t do XYZ.”
For example, “I am afraid of public speaking” is “I can’t do public speaking.”
Yet, despite this, you can. Everyone can. If you can speak, you can do it in public.
Reframing a belief of “I can’t” to “I can” is very powerful when it comes to overcoming fear.
When you tell yourself you can do something, you enable doing it. When you say you can’t, you prevent.
“I can do public speaking because I can talk and that’s all that it takes.”
You can take control of your fear. Stop, listen, look, and see there’s nothing to fear and tell yourself that there’s nothing to fear. Switch off social media and your smart phone and stop the information overload. Then learn to restate your negative beliefs as positive beliefs. You’ll be amazed at how fast your fear disappears.
Andrew Hackett is a best-selling personal development author who has been featured in media outlets such as ABC, CBS, FOX, Business Insider, and the Miami Herald. However, he is best-known for writing his seminal work, Free From Fear: Understanding Fear’s Control Over Your Life and Why Loving It Will Set You Free.
Combined with over 20 years of hands-on experience helping others reach their potential, Andrew has made a considerable mark on the self-improvement field in Australia and around the world.