BY BRITTANY ORIE
Public speaking. Making phone calls to start a non-profit ministry. Chopping off all of my shoulder-length hair and going all natural. Talking to strangers. These are all fears that I had to overcome in the past five years, and I can honestly say that they changed my life for the better. I am more confident, sociable, and welcomed with opportunities. All of my fears bullied me, making me think I wasn’t good or strong enough to overcome them. But just like you stand up to bullies, making them cower and shrink, you must confront your fears the same way. Here are some ways to help you face your fears, along with why overcoming them can change your life for the better.
Start off small and go bigger. This begins with addressing your fears and why you have such fears. For example, let’s say you’re shy and are scared to talk to strangers. You can start off small by saying “Hi” or complimenting a random person when you’re out in public. This could be at school, at work, when you’re shopping, or at church! Make eye contact and smile. I know those of you who have social anxiety are hissing at this idea—trust me, I know what social anxiety feels like! But once you take the initiative by genuinely interacting with others, most of the time you will get a warm response. Starting off small with your fears is a must because once you tackle the small goals, you will be more confident in taking on the bigger ones. Whatever your fear is, try standing up to your fear bully someplace where you feel comfortable, whoever you feel comfortable with. A comfortable or familiar environment will make things a little easier.
Try encountering your fear every day. Consistency is key! The greatest way to diminish any fear at all is to face it head on, whether you fear a certain object or a situation. Think about this: the more you avoid your fear, the bigger it will get. It will start to take over your mind, and it can even cripple you from being your very best. Try chipping away at that fear day by day until it gets smaller and until you gain more confidence. Fear will destroy you only if you let it. So be consistent in overcoming it.
Realize that your fear is learned. No one is born with fear. We learn our fears by experiencing them in life. But anything that is learned can be unlearned. You can certainly “unlearn” a fear of heights, a fear of failure, spiders, and rejection although it may take some time.
Remember that you’re not alone. No matter what your fear is, or how rare you believe it is, there’s always someone else in the world with the same fear as you. There are times we may feel like the only ones having a unique fear, but that is not the case. It’s such a relief knowing that you’re not alone in dealing with your fears. In fact, it’s always helpful to know someone who had the same fear as you (fear of public speaking, for example) and who overcame that fear. It’s good to learn from that person: how she approached the fear, how she conquered it, and what steps she took.
Imagine how your life will be if you overcome those fears. No one wants to live with regrets. It’s no fun asking “What if…?” all the time. Do you think it will be easier living with fear, or living without it? What opportunities do you think you can take advantage of after you’ve leaped over the hurdles of fear? Is there a character trait that you’re trying to develop? Is there a job that you desire to apply for or a program of study that you really want to pursue? Keep your future in mind as motivation to face your fears and live your best life.
What fears are bullying you right now? It’s time to stand up to those bullies!