Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of ourselves as we are, fear of who we want to become, fear of others, fear of uncertainty … When we tend to overthink every thought, feeling, and action, we’re often fazed by all the ways in which things can go wrong, sometimes even paralyzed by all the potential failures we might encounter and mistakes we might make.
Maybe it’s staying at a job you hate because you’re scared to know how the next one will pan out. Maybe it’s staying in an unfulfilling relationship because you’re not sure you can survive on your own and you don’t know how to be single again.
Or perhaps it’s not going back to school when you’re 28 because you don’t want to be 32 when you finally get that diploma you’ve always wanted. But the truth is, you will be 32 regardless, 4 years will go by whether you want it or not. What matters the most is what you choose to do now, rather than what you fear may happen in the future.
What is the No.1 killer of confidence?
You’ve probably thought to yourself, at some point in your life, “my life will be a million times better if only I were more confident …” And for better or for worse, that statement holds some truth to it. Research shows that confident people have greater success in the workplace, improved romantic relationships, and they also share deeper bonds with others. Fear is the number one confidence killer, so how do you conquer your fears and build emotional resilience?
3 Brave steps to overcome your fears and build emotional resilience
No.1: Commit to doing the hard work
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” — Dale Carnegie
There’s a confidence trap that people often fall into, thinking “If I had the confidence to do X thing I would do it, except I’m not feeling so confident right now, so might as well stick to what I know”. But confidence isn’t an occurrence, it’s not something that just pops up out of the blue. It’s not a feeling, it’s an action, it’s something you work hard for.
Building emotional resilience to conquer your fears begins, first and foremost, by making a commitment to yourself.
That’s how you start to break through the walls of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. Not because you’re sitting and waiting for your confidence to brew, but because you’re acting in courage. And then you build your abilities, and then you become confident in your resilience.
No.2: Conquer your inner critic
“Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me. Insisting on this story was a form of mind control, but for the most part, it worked.” — Cheryl Strayed
You’re all too familiar with that little voice in your head telling you “I’m not qualified to interview for this job”, “I don’t deserve this promotion”, “there will always be someone better than I am, so why bother?” …
Those nagging thoughts all come from your inner critic.
If you want to conquer your fears, you first need to conquer your inner critic. This isn’t an easy process, but it’s the most rewarding and worthwhile. For every negative thought telling you, you will never be enough or you will never be successful, write down more realistic and compassionate responses that hold accuracy and strength.
Remember not to act on the directives of your negative self-talk, because it is not the real you! Take actions that best align with your core values and your own point of view. Conquering your inner critic means feeling more comfortable to be who you want to be and achieve what you aim to achieve.
No.3: Try things that make you uncomfortable
“Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not.”— Virgil Thomson
Stepping outside of your comfort zone is the ultimate way to build emotional resilience and confidence as well as conquer your fears.
Confidence is all about being comfortable in situations that would likely make most people uncomfortable.
So by actively expanding your comfort zone on a daily basis, you will be able to handle more stressful or unusual situations.
You can start with subtle things like striking up a conversation with someone you’ve just met at a social gathering, going out to dinner by yourself, or even taking up a new sport or hobby. The most important thing here is consistency, so make sure you take small steps every day.
Confidence can be a secret weapon you leverage to accomplish all of your personal and professional goals.
But the process of getting there can be long and strenuous … at least until you manage to conquer your fears one small step at a time. Once you start reflecting on the things that have been holding you back, you can begin to build emotional resilience that will see you through every hardship and adversity.