Today’s very special post is by Dr. Allison — a licensed clinical psychologist who helps people lead healthier, more meaningful lives. With fear being such a regular resident in our minds, I hope you find her advice as illuminating and helpful as I do.
Fear is a powerful thing. It plays a huge role in our lives. No matter how old we get, no matter how many successes we have, fear seems to follow us. Fear of failure, fear of discomfort, fear of saying no, fear of change. Unfortunately, the natural response to fear is avoidance. And if anything can stop progress and commitment to our goals, it’s avoidance. So today, I’m sharing 5 ways to manage fear so that you can absolutely crush your goals!
See fear as a “proceed with caution” sign, not a stop sign. It might seem silly to point out, but fear is normal, especially when we’re talking about change. I’m not advocating that we ignore fear completely, but we need to rethink it. I see so many people looking at fear and uncertainty as a stop sign. Try to see fear as a “proceed with caution” sign, evaluating what happens as you move forward. My guess? It won’t be as awful or scary as you’re predicting.
Remind yourself that you’re going to make a mistake. So many of us worry, “What if I make a mistake?” The fear of what if looms close by. But when we accept that we will make a mistake, things shift. We’ve normalized that we won’t get it perfect, and that frees up room to actually deal with our mistakes, rather than staying stuck and worrying that we’ll make them at all. When you’re working toward your goals, remind yourself, “I will make a mistake. And I’ll deal with it when I do.”
Breathe mindfully. Deep breathing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to manage fear in any given moment, yet I’ve found that the majority of people don’t know how to do it. It’s not as simple as taking a big breath in and a big breath out. In fact, doing just that will probably make you more anxious. I’ve got an entire video on mindful breathing, but I’ll give you the highlights. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose and then hold your breath for a few seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth, taking a pause after you exhale. Repeat slowly, focusing all of your attention and awareness on your breath, nothing else. In just a few breaths, this act can reduce stress and increase clarity. (Click here for the full video. I promise, it helps!)
Recognize your successes, no matter how small. Fear is based on the idea that we can’t do something. Believe that, and fear has a nice, comfy place to sleep at night. But when you start to challenge this notion by noticing your successes, suddenly that that fear isn’t so comfortable. Notice and name successes, no matter how small they may seem. This provides real life, undeniable evidence that your fear is not entirely accurate. Do this repeatedly, and you begin to see how inaccurate your fear-based thoughts are.
You don’t have to figure it all out now; you can take one, small step at a time. Fear wants to keep you stuck in your tracks, believing that you can’t move forward until all the uncertainty is gone. We feel pressured to have steps A through Z figured out before we even take step A. Not only is this unnecessary and unrealistic, this way of thinking keeps us stuck. Just focus on taking one, small step at a time, reevaluating and recalibrating as you go.
Fear can be so convincing, yet I hope you remember that our fears are not always the truth. We have the power to move, even in the face of uncertainty, doubt, and worry. Your success and growth are on the other side of fear, and I firmly believe you can get there!
A huge thanks to Stephanie for opening her “home” to me today. I am inspired by and grateful for the space she has created here. I hope you’ll pop over to my site to say hello!