10 Ways to Control Fear

by Brad Isaac on February 27, 2006

In setting goals and working toward their achievements, you may find yourself facing a fear of something you can’t seem to get rid of. Here are ten ways you can control fear and put it behind you.

1. Take baby steps – no need to face your fear of snake wrangling by thrusting your hand into a Copperhead’s nest. Start out by getting a book on the subject, talk to an expert, and get as much information on the subject as possible. The more you read and learn about a subject, the less fear.

2. Jump in headfirst – Maybe it’s better for you to go on a bridge burning expedition. Like a swimmer, who doesn’t like getting cold slowly by wading into the pool slowly, you simply run up the high dive and jump off. This is inadvisable for snake wrangling, but if you applied it for public speaking, going to a job interview or learning to ride a bike for the first time, I’m sure you’ll live.

3. Use self-talk – Here you would apply a personal mantra – or saying – that makes you feel more confident. Brian Tracey suggests using repeating “I like myself, I like myself…” before a fearful task such as public speaking. Personally, I use “I can do this!” as my confidence builder.

4. Get the advice of someone who has done it – One of the cool websites that might help is 43 Things. People on that site have conquered just about every fear or trouble you could possibly think of. And they make themselves available to help you get over your fears too. A coach is a good idea too…
5. Learn more about your fear – research can give understanding and control over a dark overwhelming fear. Buy a book or three about how to overcome your worry.

For example, several studies show people can fear public speaking more than they fear death. Yet there are libraries worth of books, audio and video programs that show you how to get over the fear and speak before audiences. I am sure if you can give a name to your fear; someone else has overcome it and written a book.

6. Use progressive exposure coupled with relaxation – this is good for people who fear flying. I’ve had friends who were so afraid of flying on planes simply driving to the airport made them physically ill. Progressive exposure starts with a safe environment where you can relax and think of the fear. As the worry or anxiety increases, relaxation is used to counteract it. Over a short period of time, you increase your exposure until you finally face the fear itself.

7. Find humor – If you do not take actions on your personal goals because you fear failing and having people laugh and throw pies, tomatoes or Chinese Egg Foo Yung with gravy and chopsticks, then there is hope for you. Imagine yourself failing miserably and people hyperventilating from the laughter. Imagine blundering and knocking over a table or your pants somehow falling down. Make it ridiculous and funny. Fact is the people who care about you won’t laugh at your failure, even if you are wearing a lampshade on your head. The people who do laugh at sincere effort are usually not that bright anyway, so who cares?

8. What’s the worst that can happen? Face the worst. Take some time to think through the worst outcome you can imagine and write it down. Not only does admitting your greatest fear decrease the impact of it, writing it down makes your mind look at it more analytically.

9. Write up a pros and cons sheet – Take out a sheet of paper and write your fear at the top. Then, draw a line down the center of the page. Head the left side Pros head the Right side Cons. Write down all the pros to you for holding on to your fear and then write down all the cons of continuing with it. Is the cons list longer? Time to get to work.

10. Breathing exercises – much of the panic and apprehension you can feel simply comes from shallow breathing or hyperventilating. I see this a lot in the green rooms before someone is getting ready to go on stage. Close your eyes, take deep breaths from the diaphragm. The way you know you are breathing from the diaphragm is your stomach should move in and out, not your chest. Slow down your breathing by counting your inhalations and exhalations.

Technorati Tags: Goals and goal setting, fear, anxiety, lifehacks

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February 12, 2009 at 2:05 am

The progressive exposure coupled with relaxation is my favorite technique. Sometimes you can talk to yourself all you like, but you still feel those butterflies that drain the blood away from your head … progressive exposure is great for those situations. Helped my public speaking immensely.

karan soni February 12, 2010 at 3:38 am



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