FEAR ISN’T COMPLICATED
It’s simply one of our urges to distance ourselves whenever there’s risk involved. There will always be a risk of a negative outcome when we’re afraid of something.
That risk involves a lack of control. We are never afraid of the situations that we don’t have control over.
So how do you gain control? Exposure. It’s pretty obvious. The more you expose yourself to whatever you’re afraid of, the more control you will have, and in turn the less afraid you will be.
If you can’t approach a challenge little by little, just supplement it with something similar. Your subconscious won’t know the difference. If you’re afraid to approach a particular person, approach other people. If you’re afraid to give a presentation, practice in front of the mirror.
The next time you’re afraid to do something you know you want to do, just progress. Take it step by step. Before you know it, you’ll be completely confident.
ANXIETY IS COMPLICATED
I like to think of anxiety as worry. It may seem either rational or irrational. I believe anxiety is very often irrational. That is because worrying only impedes your ability to either tackle the situation or continue living your life.
Anxiety is a lot like fear because the feeling is almost identical. Anxiety occurs when we’re afraid of something that we do not want exposure to, but cannot distance ourselves from.
I’ve been through a serious ordeal more than once in my life that was caused by me being anxious about whether I’d be going to jail. I wouldn’t be able to sleep because I was terrified of the horrors I would face in one of the worst prisons in the United States, Rikers Island.
I took to my notebook and I tried to figure out how I could get over this situation that was ruining my peace of mind. I figured out that the ways to overcome the things we are afraid of are exposure and distance.
Neither was an option for me for obvious reasons. I figured out what the two ways had in common. Both exposure and distance turn one’s fear into something one can handle.
What else can make us handle our fears? Acceptance. This is a tool that we all have used from time to time. Once we accept that we don’t have control over the outcome and say “whatever happens, happens,” we are able to let go of the fear we have.
This is a great skill and we should practice it whenever we can. Whenever you’re afraid of or worried about or anxious due to something, you must take control of everything you can, then accept the inevitable risk.
For example, if you are afraid to give a public speech, the optimal course of action would look something like this. First, take control of all the factors you can, including research, practice, etc. Then tell yourself that you are as prepared as you possibly can be and give it your best shot.
The risk of failure or injury or heartbreak will always be there when stepping out of our comfort zones, whether or not we choose to accept it defines how far we go as human beings. :)