Do you know that queasy feeling in the stomach when you want to try something unknown?
Fear can be a prison. If you want to face it, one thing is needed above all: courage. To be brave means to face your fears. You can find out how to do this best in this article.
If you want to be successful and make your dreams come true, you will face the challenge of leaving the familiar behind to let the new, much nicer, into your life.
“The secret of happiness is freedom, but the secret of freedom is courage” – Pericles (ancient Greek statesman)
Fears in today’s world
The root of “courage” is the Latin word ” Cor “, which means “heart”. Living bravely means living from the heart.
The heart longs for the new and self-realization, but the mind fears for its existence and wants to prevent us from doing so. We imagine the worst horror scenarios that could go wrong.
Most likely you live in the US and UK and thus in one of the safest countries in the world. You don’t have to worry about your survival . So, most fears today in our life – rationally speaking – are superfluous.
The strongest instinct of man is the survival instinct. Our mind wants us to stay in the familiar zone, because it’s a guarantee of survival. Therefore, the mind is against new things and sabotages the courage: Every time you dare something new, your body reacts with fear.
In the past, this fear had its right to exist, since the unknown could lead to death. But a lot has changed in this world in the past 1,000 years. From an evolutionary point of view, 1,000 years is a drop in the ocean.
For example, if you want to give a lecture and you have never done so, your body behaves similarly as if a saber-toothed tiger were standing in front of you.
Fear feels uncomfortable, but it will only go away if you face it.
Whenever you do something new, you will encounter fear. This is not only true for you, but for everyone else.
Fear often shows us where the real treasures of our lives are hidden. If you want to achieve your goals, you will have to deal with your fears and confront them.
“If longing is greater than fear, courage is born.” – Seneca (Roman philosopher)
What does it mean to be brave?
To be brave is not to do things that are very dangerous to your body, your life or your prosperity. This is called stupidity. Some of its examples are:
- To put all your fortune in a Chinese company stock
- Climbing without protection
- Riding a motorcycle at high speed – at night and in the rain – without a helmet and hands-free
- Skydiving without a parachute
To be brave means to do the things we want with all our heart. It doesn’t mean to be fearless. Despite fear, it means doing what you know is right:
- End an unhealthy relationship
- To quit your job that doesn’t fulfill you
- To move to another city
- To travel to an unknown country
However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be big things. It’s often the little things that make us nervous.
- To approach an interesting person
- To speak your mind
- To be able to say “No”
- To give a lecture.
How do you get braver?
How do you learn to relax? By consciously relaxing. How do you become more disciplined? By acting disciplined. So how do you get braver? Bingo: By acting brave!
Similar to our self-discipline , there is a kind of muscle for our courage. Whenever you train this muscle, and act bravely, it gets bigger and stronger.
Whenever you face your fears, you will feel better no matter how it turns out. You grow by your fears. If you regularly confront your fears, you will build up a bomb-proof confidence over time. Confidence is the certainty that you can cope with any situation.
Nonetheless, people tend to do things that are comfortable and enjoyable. But mostly it is exactly the things that are not fun in the short term that really move us forward in our lives. Confronting fears is the best example of this: In the short term, it may feel uncomfortable to face your fears, but in the long term you will move forward and become more successful.
8 tips to better deal with fear
1. Take Small Steps
If you told me to give a lecture to 1,000 people in two weeks, I would be afraid. I would give this talk, but it would push me to my limits.
I regularly give lectures to 10 people. For me, these are no longer a major overcoming. It is easier to increase the number of people from 10 to 20, then to 50, to 100, 200, 500, until the lecture in front of 1,000 people is more feasible.
Going straight to the extreme can overwhelm us. In this example, this would be the direct jump from 10 to 1,000 people.
If you are afraid to approach people, you could start by asking strangers about the direction or the time. If this is no longer a problem for you, the next step would be to exchange a few sentences of small talk with the stranger.
This principle is also called comfort zone expansion. You continuously face your fear, but in steps that are feasible for you.
2. Do Something you’re afraid of every day
Your courage muscle grows by training it. What would be better than a daily workout? Do at least one thing every day that you’re afraid of or that is new to you. It doesn’t have to be big things like giving a speech in a busy square. Following small tasks are enough:
- Try a new restaurant
- Take another route to work
- Conduct a short small talk with a seller in a shop
- Try a new sport
- Instead of using Google Maps, ask passerbys for directions
- If you face your fear for one year, at least once a day, and do things differently, that’s 365 new things. That means 365 times a little boost for your self-confidence.
Constantly confronting your fears helps you more than if you only confronted your fear once in a larger action. Ideally, combine the daily small actions, regularly with larger actions, such as giving a lecture.
3. Raise awareness of the feeling of fear and do not identify with it
If we are feeling the fear, we shouldn’t escape from it. This does not lead to anything because it only makes the fear stronger. It is better to perceive the emotion and allow it to be there.
However, do not identify yourself with your fear. You are not your emotion!
When the emotional train rolls on, many people jump on the train and ride with it. This means that they let the emotion travel with them, and the emotion then determines their action. The greater the fear, the harder it is not to get carried away.
Learn to perceive fear, but not to let it travel with you. The more you try, the better you get at countering your emotions. You can feel the fear, but still decide how to handle the situation.
4. Relax on a physical level
Anxiety is felt on a physical level:
- The muscles cramp
- Breathing becomes shallower
- Your heart beats faster
- The more cramped you are, the more fear will grow.
As soon as you feel fear, consciously make sure to relax your body. Breathe deeply into your stomach and relax your muscles. You can also fake your smile and trick your brain into thinking that there is nothing to be afraid of. This will reduce the fear, which will make it easier for you to deal with it. If the fear is weaker, you will also not easily get carried away by it (see point 3).
5. Try to look at your fear as objectively as possible
Fear is an emotion that often makes no sense at a rational level. Accordingly, your mind can help you understand that nothing can happen to you.
What are you afraid of? In the worst case, what can happen to you – realistically speaking? Consider the negative effects on a scale of 1-10 (1 = nothing can happen; 10 = physical pain / death, loss of your complete wealth). How much is your life changing for the negative?
You do the same now in case it works.
What can you win at best? On a scale of 1-10: what positive effects can it have on your life if you face your fears?
It is often the case that we have little to lose and everything to gain.
Let’s take the example that you want to approach an attractive person:
Even if s/he is not interested, they will still most likely thank you for the interest in them. In the worst case, they react annoyed and shout at you. Maybe a few outsiders will notice. After 5 minutes at the latest, passerby will get busy again (on the scale: 3-4).
Ideally, you will get to know the partner of your dreams (on the scale: 10).
6. Visualize positive images
What pictures do you see in your head? Do you see yourself failing or do you see yourself coping with the situation ahead of you?
Especially in moments of fear, we spin the most ridiculous horror scenarios in our head. This often happens unconsciously.
Watch yourself in moments of fear: is the film running in your head, what could go wrong? If so, imagine how you can cope with the current situation.
Have thoughts that match the results you want.
Visualization alone does not change anything in the real world. This only happens through action.
7. Get support from a good friend
If we are alone, we may be overwhelmed by fear. A friend can help us not to be carried away by fear.
He can help you overcome yourself and is there for you afterwards. Even if things go wrong, he will be there for you.
8. Be good to yourself!
As much as I wanted to, I often couldn’t bring myself to call an unpleasant customer or speak to an attractive woman. The voice in my head immediately began to judge me:
- “You will never become anything!”
- “You are such a failure!”
- “You don’t even dare!”
- “If you face your fears, you will always find yourself in situations where you are paralyzed by fear.”
The worst thing you can do is to judge yourself. This will not take you one step further rather pull you down even deeper. Would your best friend talk to you like this? No, so don’t talk to yourself like that!
Conclusion – being brave is rewarded
Fear was justified 10,000 years ago. In today’s world, it is usually superfluous. Once you understand that, you’ve already won the half battle.
If we want to make our dreams come true, we have to face our fears. Where there is fear, there is often the way.
Anxiety can be a prison. To be brave means to feel fear and to act anyway. The fear will only go away if you overcome yourself and act. Every time you face your fears, you free yourself a little more from this prison – no matter how it ends. This builds self-confidence.
Courage is rewarded. Maybe not immediately, but definitely in the long run. Don’t let setbacks discourage you and try again.