Fight or Flight: Overcoming Your Fears
Fortunately, all fears are learned; no one is born with fears. Fears can therefore be unlearned by practicing self discipline repeatedly with regard to fear until it goes away.
The most common fears that we experience, which often sabotage all hope for success, are the fears of failure, poverty, and loss of money. These fears cause people to avoid risk of any kind and to reject opportunity when it is presented to them. They are so afraid of failure that they are almost paralyzed when it comes to taking any chances at all.
There are many other fears that interfere with our happiness. People fear the loss of love or the loss of their jobs and their financial security. People fear embarrassment or ridicule. People fear rejection and criticism of any kind. People fear the loss of respect or esteem of others. These and many other fears hold us back throughout life.
Fear Paralyzes Action
The most common reaction in a fear situation is the attitude of, “I can’t!” This is the fear of failure and loss that stops us from taking action. It is experienced physically, starting in the solar plexus. When people are really afraid, their mouth and throat go dry, their heart starts pounding. Sometimes they breathe shallowly and their stomach churns. Often they feel like getting up and running to the bathroom.
These are all physical manifestations of the inhibitive negative habit pattern, which we all experience from time to time. Whenever a person is in the grip of fear, he feels like a deer caught in the headlights of a car. This fear paralyzes action. It often shuts down the brain and causes the individual to revert to the “fight-or-flight” reaction. Fear is a terrible emotion that undermines our happiness and can hold us back throughout our lives.
Visualize Yourself as Unafraid
By visualizing yourself performing with confidence and competence in an area where you are fearful, your visual image will eventually be accepted by your subconscious mind as instructions for your performance. Your self-image, the way you see yourself and think about yourself, is eventually altered by feeding your mind these positive mental pictures of yourself performing at your best.
By using the “act as if” method, you walk, talk, and carry yourself exactly as you would if you were completely unafraid in a particular situation. You stand up straight, smile, move quickly and confidently, and in every respect act as if you already had the courage that you desire.
The Law of Reversibility says that “if you feel a certain way, you will act in a manner consistent with that feeling.” But if you act in a manner consistent with that feeling, even if you don’t feel it, the Law of Reversibility will create the feeling that is consistent with your actions.
This is one of the greatest breakthroughs in success psychology. You develop the courage you desire by disciplining yourself repeatedly to do the thing you fear until that fear eventually disappears—and it will.
Confront Your Fears
Your ability to confront, deal with, and act in spite of your fears is the key to happiness and success. One of the best exercises you can practice is to identify a person or situation in your life of which you are afraid and resolve to deal with that fear situation immediately. Do not allow it to make you unhappy for another minute. Resolve to confront the situation or person and put the fear behind you.
Move Toward the Fear
When you identify a fear and discipline yourself to move toward it, it grows smaller and more manageable. What’s more, as your fears grow smaller, your confidence grows. Soon, your fears lose their control over you.
In contrast, when you back away from a fear-inducing situation or person, your fear grows larger and larger. Soon it dominates your thinking and feeling, preoccupies you during the day, and often keeps you awake at night.
Deal With the Fear Directly
The only way to deal with a fear is to address it head-on. Remind yourself that “denial” is not a river in Egypt. The natural tendency of many people is to deny that they have a problem caused by fear of some kind. They’re afraid of confronting it. In turn, it becomes a major source of stress, unhappiness, and psychosomatic illness.
Be willing to deal with the situation or person directly. As Shakespeare said, “Take arms against a sea of troubles, and in so doing, end them.”
When you force yourself to face any fear-inducing situation in your life, your self-esteem goes up, your self-respect increases, and your sense of personal pride grows. You eventually reach the point in life where you are not afraid of anything.
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