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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How to Fight Your Irrational Fears and Stay Strong

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How to Fight Your Irrational Fears and Stay Strong

I could hear my baby crying but was frozen in the doorway, unable to move. The crying got worse and I knew that unless I comforted the infant soon the baby would be inconsolable, and yet my feet wouldn’t move. I didn’t look at the crib but the floor in front, where the venomous hairy monster sat….okay it was a UK spider so very unlikely to kill me at all, and yet still my body was frozen as the tears fell down my face. “What a useless mother you are,” I berated myself as I faced these irrational fears.

My fear of spiders had not been controlled for years, and I was at the stage where I wouldn’t open a newspaper until my husband had read it and removed the images of spiders. I hated houses that had wooden floors or skirting boards because every knot in the wood could be a spider about to crawl across me.

At the height of my fear, I tried to get out of a moving car. Clearly this harmless 8-legged creature had massive levels of power over me, but now that the fear is gone, I’m never going to love spiders, but I’m not going to leave the room because of one, and I can read the word without freaking out and sobbing.

If you think that fear is irrational, what about the fear of going to airports? Or the fear of not asking for help?

Today I want to look at how our irrational fears impact us, and how they can destroy our success. They can damage our health and even stop us from living our lives. And then I’ll share the benefits of fighting that fear and, most importantly, how you can fight your fears, too.

How Irrational Fears Impact Your Life

The thing about irrational fears is that we are not keen to look at the particular object or situation causing them as it causes a great deal of distress. It makes us feel inadequate, weak, and silly because we can’t do things that it seems everyone else can. That gives the fear power.

Fear loves negative emotions and saps up yours, making your fear bigger and uglier and even more powerful. Not ideal to say the least. Fears can cause us to do any of the following:

Avoid Certain Situations

If you know you may have to face your fear, you can find yourself dodging parties, new jobs, or new experiences where you aren’t sure you will be able to protect yourself.

Hinder Sleep

We may have trouble falling asleep, thinking the thing we fear will “get us in the night.” For me this was massive, and I stopped sleeping, which had massive implications when my job was to look after a toddler and a baby. I felt half dead most of the time!

Experience High Levels of Stress and Anxiety

Stress can be the cause of unhealthy decisions. Drinking alcohol when we shouldn’t, eating chocolate because it makes us feel better…the list of excuses that we hold on to is long so that we can avoid the cause of our stress. These high levels of anxiety can even lead to panic attacks or a long-term anxiety disorder.

If we experience long-term stress and anxiety from our fears, it can cause health issues that may extend far beyond the times we are actually feeling fear[1].

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Irrational fears can cause long-term stress effects

     

    Negative Thinking and Mental Distress

    Having irrational fears can damage our confidence. Having coached thousands, I know that a lack of confidence is usually the underlining impactor on most people’s success across all areas of their lives.

    Seeming Aloof

    We risk looking aloof or arrogant because we won’t participate like other people. Our fears can even isolate us in our personal and professional lives, too.

    Feeling Debilitated

    Needless to say, these fears may look irrational and shouldn’t exist to the outside world, but to the sufferer they are debilitating. They can ultimately impact their earning potential, love life, hobbies, travels and personal and professional success.

    Why Bother Fighting the Fear?

    Couldn’t you just ensure you live your life in a way that you don’t have to deal with your fear?

    I had a client that was so scared of flying that they couldn’t even take their partner to the airport. I had another who had avoided public speaking for over 20 years and yet now, at the height of their profession, they had no choice. There was another who could never ask for help, and another who feared people finding out who they really were.

    All these fears and many more can be fixed, but only if we can appreciate the benefits of fighting the fear.

    If you’re going to change the way you do something that has impacted your life, thoughts, and actions for years, it can be hard to believe change is possible.

    The first thing you must do is give yourself a big enough reason why. Go back through your life and remember all the occasions that this fear was there.

    Remember the feelings, the actions, the negative feelings you felt afterwards. Really experience the fear. Make it so painful that you probably notice your heart racing, your shoulders drawing up, and your breath changing. That fear is causing physical change in your body; doesn’t feel good, does it?

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    When the irrational fear is challenged and destroyed, it can’t have power over you. New opportunities can come your way, and instead of fearing them, you can be open to new hobbies, more travel, or expanded job opportunities. You can plan on being happier, healthier, and more confident.

    How to Stop Irrational Fears

    In my book Fight the Fear: How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life, I cover 12 of the biggest fears that I see impact success and happiness. Not all of these are obvious, but they all have far-reaching consequences.

    Here are some of those ideas to help you fight your fear and get more of what you want out of life:

    1. “Why I’m Awesome”

    Creating a 2-page handwritten document of why you are awesome can help. This document will be packed with achievements, successes, overcoming adversity, and all of those will be full of positive emotions, actions, and feelings. It is not easy to write; however, it is a powerful reminder that you can stand up and accomplish something.

    2. Draw out Your Emotions

    Earlier, we looked at how irrational fears can damage every aspect of our lives. If you were to follow the negative spiral down, you can follow the positive spiral up again.

    I draw these individually for clients, and with each action, thought, or feeling, we put an arrow between them. Each arrow is an opportunity to do something different. If we know that irrational fear is an automatic thought process, then we can start to see that we need to think, do or feel something different.

    3. Acknowledge That You Need to Change

    It’s not easy to change, and that is a belief that many hold. Remember that when you want to do, think, or feel differently, you’ve already achieved the first step, and that is recognizing something must change (you don’t need to know what).

    Then, it’s about acknowledging it. That means not only accepting it, but feeling that it is yours to take on and change.

    There will be times when you fail. Instead of berating yourself, just start again and take a look at the list you made in step 1. 

    4. Choose Your Words Carefully

    Any thought that gives power to your fear takes away power from you to fight it. Therefore, choose how you word your goal to overcome your fear carefully[2].

    Think thoughts like “I remember when I achieved X, and that reminds me I’m far tougher and more capable than I give myself credit for.”

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    Talk yourself up to overcome fears

      You can practice cultivating positive self-talk with this article.

      5. Believe That You Have the Control

      The only person that can control what we think and feel is us.

      If you really think about that for a moment, can you see that you have the right to think and feel anything you want right now? I’m certain you wouldn’t choose pain, fear or anxiety. So, what would you choose to think about your fear?

      6. Put up Physical Reminders

      Physical reminders or visuals can be great for reorienting the mind toward overcoming irrational fears.

      For example, the CEO who was petrified of public speaking but could handle a conference call with 300 without a second thought imagined the microphone was a phone when they spoke in front of 400 people to help reinforce the positive thoughts and ideas we’d created.

      The client that always worried that they were an imposter and “someone else can do this better” pinned on their office wall a tag cloud of all the words that made up their “Why I’m awesome” document.

      They had a daily reminder. They were the right one for the job, and they could do it.

      What would be your visual clues to remind you that you can overcome this?

      7. Change Your Environment

      Music, natural environment, and even smells can impact the way we think and feel. Know the music that makes you feel alive, calm, and ready for anything. Try aromatherapy oils to feel positive and energized. Even choose your work environment or clothing to empower you.

      Giving yourself physical reminders toward action can help power up your emotional state, too.

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      8. Don’t Go It Alone

      The fear to ask for help is very real (and has a whole chapter in my book), so I know people really struggle with this. The fact is we all need people. We are not insular by design, and as such it can be tough to admit that you have irrational fears that you need help with.

      However, sharing your intense fear with a trusted friend, colleague, loved one, or mental health professional can mean that when you are feeling the fear, you can talk to someone. It could be that you share with them the contents of your tool kit and ask their permission to be added to it. That way they know what works for you and how to best support you.

      It’s not a sign of weakness to tell people about your specific phobia. It takes massive levels of strength to say, “I have this fear, and I want to get rid of it.”

      9. Pay Attention to Your Body

      One of the reasons that a fear can escalate is because we have come to accept that response. Our body reacted in a certain way, repeated the behavior, and formed a habit that was accepted.

      Challenging a fear can be done using our body when we appreciate that fear is actually a reaction inside our bodies. We don’t need to understand where in our brains or what chemicals are racing through us to use our physicality to help us challenge our fears.

      When I was writing my book, the Cuddy Superhero pose[3] was proved and disproved by various researchers around the world 3 times. Whether it’s real or not, the fact is the way we stand, the way we breathe, and even the speed at which we speak can impact us, as well as those around us.

      If you have a fear of public speaking, or a fear of people thinking you are stupid, or a fear of what people are thinking, you can look at how you speak, stand, and move. If you compare these with people you deem confident and happy in these situations, how do you look? What can you learn?

      The research around placebos reinforces the idea that if it feels like it’s working, then keep doing it! What could you use to help reinforce your power and fearlessness?

      Final Thoughts

      A little fear can be good. However, when irrational fears become debilitating, it’s time to take a long look at what you can do to undermine their power over your life.

      Despite having an absolute hatred of public speaking 10 years ago, I now love an audience, and yet I have a healthy level of fear. That level of fear ensures that I prepare well, do my best to understand my audience, and push myself to deliver a great speech. Those thoughts are all sensible.

      As you aim to reduce your irrational fears, cultivate a healthy sense of fear to help you achieve success.

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      More About Fighting Fears

      Featured photo credit: Isaiah Rustad via unsplash.com

      Reference

      More by this author

      Mandie Holgate

      International Coach, Best Selling Author & Speaker inspiring people around the world to success.

      50 Words of Encouragement for Moving Forward 7 Types Of Emotional Baggage And How To Deal With Them How to Control the Uncontrollable In Life 6 Types of Fear of Success (And How to Overcome Them) Self Awareness Is Underrated: Why the Conscious Mind Leads to Happiness

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      Published on September 20, 2021

      What is Tenacity and How to Use It To Be Successful

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      What is Tenacity and How to Use It To Be Successful

      Do you ever feel like life is passing you by and you don’t have the same energy as others? Maybe you have seen people push for new opportunities with ease, and you wonder how they are capable of so much more. If this is the case, you might need a boost of tenacity. But first, what is tenacity?

      Being tenacious means having drive and passion, which can be experienced in various ways. Maybe you approach cleaning your house with methodical determination and a detailed plan. When it comes to your job, you might analyze how to be more efficient and prepare for future projects while you are off the clock. Being tenacious does not necessarily mean being the loudest in the room or always moving at a fast pace. It also entails giving yourself the space to breathe and be in the shadows when you need to, then showing up again with confidence and strength.

      Tenacity is what makes you leap out of bed each day. You might not have discovered what this spark is yet, but it is somewhere within you. Becoming a more determined person and utilizing this quality can allow you to be more successful. Here are four ways to use tenacity that will yield measurable results.

      1. Put in Preparation

      The key to being a tenacious person is going above and beyond when it comes to preparation. If you have a deadline to meet at your job, take the time to organize your approach. You might need to wake up earlier or stay later on some days to make sure you can deliver your best work. Putting in this extra effort will allow you to stand out, and it could open the door for more opportunities. You might also take steps to plan for retirement. This could mean analyzing your current assets, investing in stocks, or changing your spending habits. Retiring is something we think about all the time, so actually being ready for it will make you more successful.

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      Tenacity can also be used in personal areas of your life. If you are thinking about going on a vacation, start by outlining the logistics of timing. You can first consider if there are any loose ends to tie up before you leave. From there, do thorough research on the area you are traveling to and find out if there are any must-do experiences. Decide on the excursions you want to take part in, and set aside days to simply lounge around. Planning ahead of time will eliminate stress and ensure a more relaxing vacation. Even organizing your days can have a huge impact on feeling accomplished. Creating a grocery list to make meals for the week or scheduling workouts will allow you to be more productive.

      In all aspects of life, the tenacious person takes the time to prepare for the future. This makes achieving your goals easier and you will find that you are more efficient.

      2. Be Forward-Looking

      The difference between a person with fierce tenacity and someone who lacks the same drive is that the tenacious person does not let life just pass them by. If you find yourself constantly reminiscing about the past, you might consider shifting your mindset.

      To be a more determined person, you need to live in the present moment. Exert your energy in focusing on what is to come. You can use your past to shape how you want your future to look, but you have to let go of any resentment you might have. For instance, if you can’t release the memories of a toxic relationship, then you aren’t opening yourself to finding the love of your life. When you wake up, tell yourself that today is an opportunity to accomplish anything you set your heart on and consider what might be next for you.

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      Perhaps you have been pondering how you might develop a new skill or pick up an exciting hobby. Using passion and tenacity, you can seize the day and build a better future by signing up for an instructional class or trying a new activity. There is so much liberty in forward-thinking. You might feel that it is daunting to contemplate the unknown, but it is really a huge chance for change. You are giving yourself a blank canvas to draw who you want to be without holding back. Think about where you might see yourself living in the future, who your friends will be, or what kind of job you will have.

      When you learn to channel tenacious energy towards tasks and goals daily, your days no longer feel mundane, and you can achieve more.

      3. Seek Opportunities

      Part of being tenacious is tapping into one’s passion and purpose. If you show that you are open to new opportunities, you will have more chances to succeed. If you are searching for a job and are offered an interview for a position, make sure you come with insightful questions and send a follow-up or a thank you email. This will set you apart from other candidates and convey that you are enthusiastic about the opportunity.

      If you are already employed, use tenacity to ask for a promotion or expand your duties. You might offer to assist with other team projects or bring new ideas to the table. When you truly love your job and are excited to attend office parties or volunteer at events, you will naturally exude passion and drive.

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      In your personal life, find ways to diversify your routine. Switch up what you order at a restaurant or test out interesting recipes at home. Instead of going to the gym like usual, try out a spin class. Letting every day be a little more different will be revitalizing. Also, seek openings for making new friends. Look for groups or clubs in your community that you can join where you might meet different people who share some of the same interests. Start becoming a person who is up for anything.

      When a friend invites you somewhere, just say yes and be open to a new experience. Others will begin to associate you with being lively and tenacious, and you will attract similar people. When you surround yourself with individuals who are as strong-willed and energetic as you are, you will vibrate at a higher frequency.

      4. Know Your Worth

      Being tenacious will come easily if you remember the bigger picture and can visualize reaching for your dreams. This could mean reminding yourself why your work matters. Whether you have a career in customer service or the corporate world, make sure you understand how what you do benefits others. Knowing that the project you’re working on makes a difference allows you to bring a new level of excitement.

      If you don’t have a clear meaning behind your actions, waking up for a 9-to-5 job feels tiresome, and you become complacent with your position. By asking how everyone’s duties fit together, you might find that you bring a valuable skill. It can also be beneficial to recognize the fruits of your labor. Perhaps you worked with a team member and assisted them with a project. When you see the finished product and how grateful your coworker was for your aid, you gain an understanding of how you can be in service to others. This makes it easier to value your worth and be passionate about other tasks as well.

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      Even keeping a vision board can allow you to be more persistent and determined to succeed. Putting up pictures of a car you’ve always wanted or words associated with the type of partner you’re seeking can motivate you and remind you what your end goal is. Part of being tenacious is also considering how you want people to talk about you. Taking a few moments each day to meditate on how your friends and family regard you will allow you to remember the qualities you love about yourself and anything you might want to work on. Understanding your worth and how others view you helps you live with more tenacity.

      Final Thoughts

      Tenacity is what moves us to action. It is energetic passion and perseverance that we are all capable of exuding. When you are a tenacious person at work, you will become a dependable individual who is given more opportunities.

      Having tenacity in relationships also builds stronger bonds with like-minded people. Challenge yourself to bring determination in these ways to a few aspects of your life in the coming months. By being intentional with your time, you will maximize your impact and embrace success.

      Featured photo credit: Ales Krive via unsplash.com

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