How to Conquer Your Fear

Excellent. You’ve determined what you’re afraid of. Or, you should have if you read this first post. Now, how can you conquer your fear? This is a simple technique that you can use to overcome your limiting, irrational fears. It derives from the combination of research and works by various experts and PhDs in psychology (articles linked at bottom for reference), ordered and prioritized by what has worked in my own personal experience.

When you put this technique into action, you will rise to meet that knotting sensation in your gut. You’ll embrace the waves of discomfort that assault you from the inside. You will learn about yourself and your capabilities. Steadily, you’ll watch the limits in your life dissipate and fade into the past. 

What you must do is arm yourself with information, stoke your courage as one stokes a fire, and take action. It starts with this:

conquer fear how to conquer your fears
“You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” – Dale Carnegie

Step number 1. IDENTIFY

What are you afraid of? Why? Write it down. When you write something down you gain power over it. You draw your fear out from the dark corners of your mind, where it could grow, evolve, and paralyze you from within. When you put it down on paper, you take an abstract thought from your mind and you make it real.

You can’t defeat the abstract; you can’t defeat the potential.

But once it’s made real, you can work towards a solution. Now it’s just a problem – an equation that you can solve. When I am able to move past my own limiting fears, it is only because I am truthful to myself about what I am afraid of, and I know why those things scare me. Only after I have identified these fears can I begin to move past them.

conquer fear how to conquer your fear
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie

Step number 2. ANALYZE

What are the facts? It’s easy to fear that which one does not fully understand.

Let’s take the movie ‘Jaws’ for example, released in 1975. The movie about the giant, man-eating shark off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard – you know the one. The average person didn’t know a whole lot about sharks back in 1975. There was no shark week to watch, no influx of specific research conveniently gathered and packaged for the curious consumer. In reality, shark attacks are quite rare. The oft-quoted statistic is that you’re twice as likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a shark. And to be killed by a shark? You’re seventy-four times more likely to die of lightning.

But after the movie ‘Jaws’ was released, people were terrified to go into the ocean to the point where beach tourism was statistically reduced for the summer of ’75. They just didn’t know much about sharks, beyond the fact that they were terrified of them.

To this day, people remember the first time they saw the film and retain that deep-seated fear of sharks, or the ocean, or just of swimming in general. In a Boston Globe article, movie director David Fincher has stated: “I’m always interested in movies that scar. The thing I love about Jaws is the fact that I’ve never gone swimming in the ocean again.” This is an extreme example, but you can see how affected people were just by a blockbuster film.

After the movie, shark research increased dramatically.

People wanted to know more about sharks. Knowledge is power. The more one knows, the more one understands. And as one’s understanding grows, one’s fear will diminish.

You must ask questions, and find answers.

“What are the odds that what I fear will affect me? How often will I have to face my fear? How can I prepare for it? What is my absolute worst-case scenario? Who do I know that has successfully dealt with a similar fear? How can I minimize, avoid, or deal with my fear if it should come to pass? What if the worst should happen? How can I come back from that?”

With each fear comes a new set of questions. You must decide on your own which ones you need to ask.

Once you’ve laid out all possibilities, you can effectively prepare for the possibility of your fear. Focus on controlling what you can control, and don’t agonize about the rest.

Conquer Fear how to conquer your fear
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Step number 3. VISUALIZE

In your mind’s eye, see yourself facing your fear.

This will be a most terrible daydream, but you must know the depths of your fears in order to surmount them. Take counsel from the Ph.D, and don’t hit pause during your own personal horror story. Live through the worst parts, and don’t stop until you arrive at a safe conclusion.

Mentally practice what you can do or control. This might be painful to do. You’re essentially forcing yourself to relive your worst fears over and over again, and knowing that it isn’t real reduces your discomfort just slightly. Our minds can be cruel in this way.

Use what you learned when you were analyzing your fear. Let the information you gained change the narrative. Think your way out of it. Over and over and over again, as many times as you need. Push through the disaster towards your safety and overcome your fear.

“Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.” – Dale Carnegie

Step number 4. FACE YOUR FEAR

Now is the time to work up the willpower to face your fear.

It’s not easy, but it’s doable. You can handle it, trust me. Break your fear down into small, bite-sized chunks that you can manage.

Experts say that repeated exposure to your fear will lessen the negative feelings or even make them go away altogether, and the research supports it. If you fear sharks, start by reading a book about them. Go to an aquarium and see them. Wade in the ocean. If you fear public speaking, tell a joke to a group of people. Share a short personal story. Engage a room full of people for a brief moment. If you fear death, speak to someone that’s seen death, maybe a nurse. Go to an elderly care facility and speak to the staff, perhaps even speak with some of the elders if you’re allowed. See how they’ve come to terms with the end.

Break your fear down into small parts.

Divide, and conquer. If you really can’t bring yourself to do something, then you haven’t gone small enough. Yes, it can be tough to work up that willpower, to work up that courage. But you’ve already done all the thinking, and you’ve already done all the visualizing.

Now is the time to stop thinking. Now is the time to take the leap of faith – faith in yourself. Go for it, and make that jump. Conscious fear melts away in the face of action. As you succeed in a tiny endeavor, your confidence will grow. You will take on a slightly larger task, or just as small again if you need. Steadily and incrementally your confidence will grow, and soon enough without noticing it you’ll take on bigger tasks without even a second thought.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

Be courageous. Stand tall in the face of what makes you afraid. When you face your fear over and over, you discover that you are capable of more than you realize.

Conquer fear how to conquer your fear
“I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically the fear of change… I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back….” – Erica Jong

Step number 5. ACCEPT

The last step: acknowledge that what you fear is part of life.

When you’ve prepared, you’ve done your part. You’re ready to move on. It is impossible to be 100% in control of everything that happens to you. You can only control how you choose to perceive it.

Some of our fears we might manage to avoid for the entirety of our lives, and some we may face everyday. But recognize that there is no such thing as perfect safety. You can’t live forever in a sealed room away from all harm. The world can be a chaotic and scary place, but you can navigate it with courage. People have done so for thousands of years up until now, and they will continue to do so for thousands more (hopefully).

Remember, you’ve put in the work. You were honest with yourself about your fears and you wrote them down. You asked questions, and found answers. In your mind you visualized the worst possible situation, and came back from it. One small portion at a time, you faced your fears. You came away with courage and confidence.

You’ve learned how to conquer your fear.

There is no deadline. There is no rush. We must all conquer our fears at our own pace.

As the tall shadows of your fears come crumbling down, new doors and opportunities will open up for you. It’s time for you to seize those moments. Leave your limitations behind, and step forward with self-confidence. There’s always room to become more than you are.

Remember, you are capable of great things.

Don’t be afraid to show the world what you can do.

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