Fear rears its ugly head in all of our lives. Wouldn’t you just love to know how to get from fear to fearlessness? So would I!
For this week’s blog, it’s time to get someone else’s perspective. Please welcome Sari Shaicovitch, MSW. She has a counseling practice in Toronto and is a proud member of Brave The Waves Advisory Board. I so appreciate her expert advice and guidance. You will too!
Let’s talk about fear.
We have all been in situations that make us extremely uncomfortable. A new job, an unfamiliar city, or an environment where we do not know anybody. The question is, how to get from fear to fearlessness?
Recently, I was away at a conference where I was totally out of my element. I was nowhere near my comfort zone. I knew almost no one, at least not well enough to rely on for company. At several points during my trip, I contemplated retreating to my hotel room during breaks or mealtime, or at other times when there was no set program.
After all, we always have the choice to avoid. This is actually the most common response. It is a lot easier to leave a situation or circumstance which makes us feel vulnerable or uncomfortable rather than immerse ourselves in it, face it and grow. For some people, however, the thought of immersing themselves could be almost too much to bear, accompanied by feelings of overwhelming anxiety and fear.
But I fought those thoughts of running away. Instead of avoiding to deal with my own discomforts, I chose to throw myself right into them. After all, I went to the conference to learn and grow professionally, and ultimately meet others in the field who are all there for the same reasons. If I avoided them, what would be the point of this adventure? And how disappointed I would have been with myself for letting those fears get the better of me.
As I try to do in my personal life, I always encourage my clients to take risks. Facing a fear or managing an anxiety provoking situation, is not only an opportunity for personality growth and maturation, but also ultimately helps us with our sense of confidence and security.
So what techniques can we use to face and overcome fears instead of choosing to make a run for the hills?
Tips on How to get From Fear to Fearlessness
- Take some time and count to ten. We must physically be able to calm down and stop the rush of panic from overcoming us. If out in public, find a corner where you can get some air, wash your face, and sit down. Breathe deeply, and catch your breath. This will allow yourself to get distracted from your fear and subsequently help you figure out the best way to cope.
- Always be able to envision the ‘worst-case scenario’. Visualize in your mind how you would handle a situation if the worst-case scenario came to fruition. Chances are, this will not in fact happen. But you will be prepared for it if it does. And anything less stressful than ‘worst case’ suddenly becomes that much more manageable.
- Be open about your feelings. Talk to your friends, loved ones, and therapist. People who are open with their feelings allow themselves to grow emotionally. Don’t be embarrassed that you have vulnerabilities. Embrace them instead of running away from them.
- Try to expose yourself to the fear. The truth is, the more we expose ourselves to our fears, the easier they are to cope with it. The more we are used to something or someone, the more we are able to get used to the situation. If we know that a certain situation makes us uncomfortable, we can try to reduce those feelings by throwing ourselves into situations where we know we are afraid but also recognizing that over time, this fear will dissipate.
- Try not to be so hard on yourself. Certainly do not expect perfection. Our lives are full of stresses. The key is to recognize them and remember that everyone has them to varying degrees. We all cope in our own way and in our own time. In the end, always remember to be good to yourself. Reward yourself. Be proud of yourself for taking the risk.
It is not easy putting ourselves out there. But I have learned, both from personal experience and within my own practice, that in the long term, the rewards of taking the risks far outweigh the disadvantages. So stop running, and just deal with it.