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Master Your Fear With These 6 Tips

Master Your Fear With These 6 Tips

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

– John Lennon

Fear is a normal human reaction that helps to protect us. It alerts and prepares us to deal with approaching danger. When we sense danger the body physically responds by increasing our heart beat, increasing our blood pressure and we also experience rapid breathing. When we are in real danger the body also physically prepares us to do one of two things – To Fight danger or Flee from danger. The body will stay in this state until the brain signals that there is no more danger.

Fear is a good thing to feel.

It sets us up for the adventure and it also prepares us to be cautious. The problem isn’t the fear, the problem is us and our reaction to the feeling of fear. When we are afraid to step out of our comfort zone, to follow our dreams, to confront bullies or to stand in our power, we don’t fight the fear, instead ,we flee or we hide. We don’t use it to excite us, stimulate us, or to move us forward in life. We let fear control our lives and paralyse us. When we are reacting to fear in this way we are choosing to make decisions that are not serving us well. As John Lennon said in his quote, if we are controlled by fear we pull back from life – mediocrity and complacency become acceptable in our lives. The key to overcoming our fears is to learn to love ourselves more – even with our imperfections.

“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

I am proud to say that I am pretty close to being Fearless when it comes to me following my dream, stepping out of my comfort zone and dealing with life’s challenges . For many years I had been too fearful to step out, to be courageous and follow my dream. I had made attempts, some were successful and some were not. In my career particularly I could never get to a place in any of my jobs where I was happy. I would take on roles because I felt like I had to, or the money was good, or the job was easy, and as a result I drifted through my career doing the roles I could do rather than doing what I wanted to do.

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The turning point for me was last year when I had to face my third redundancy in 18 months. It was then that I decided that I didn’t want to be afraid anymore. I chose to face my fears and then I worked out how I was going to manage them. Today as I write this I can honestly say that my big fears no longer mean anything to me – I do however have a few minor ones lurking around. You never really stop being fearful, you just learn how to proactively manage your fears so that they enhance, energise and motivate you to action.

The 6 Steps to Mastering Your Fear

“Fear is a habit, so is self pity, defeat, anxiety, despair, hopelessness and resignation. You can eliminate all of these negative habits with two simple resolves: I can and I will.”

– Napoleon Hill

To master my fears I used the advice of  6 Fearless people who knew what they were talking about. Hopefully these 6 tips will help you to master you fears, so that you can live the life you desire.

Before you start reading through these  6 tips please note that Acknowledging your fears is the easy part – mastering your fears is hard work and it is a life long journey.

1. Get comfortable with Fear and invite it into your life.

Do things that frighten you. Take action and face your fears – the more you do this the more confident and stronger you become.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by each experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

2. Learn that Fear is only in our minds.

Fear is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. We can control our fears – they don’t control us. When you start to feel afraid, acknowledge the fear, feel it and then ask yourself “what is the worst thing that could happen to me if I did it?” Is the worst that could happen as bad as what you imagine it will be? It is ok to feel afraid and scared – it is not ok to let the fear control our minds.

“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.”

– Lucius Annaeus Seneca

3. Get to know your 3 Big Fears.

There are 3 Big Fears which are the source of all your fears. Write your 3 Big Fears down and then put a plan in place on how you will  deal with them one by one until you feel you are in control. You need to know what you are dealing with so that you can take one step at a time.Be realistic about confronting your fears. Its a life long journey so you don’t have to rush it. You just have to keep moving forward in your life.

“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”

– Judy Blume

4. Focus on the Positives’ in Your Life.

Get yourself a journal and every day for 1 month write down:

  • 1 positive thing that happened to you today
  • 1 thing you are grateful for in your life today
  • 1 good deed that you did today where you helped someone.

At the end of the month read your journal and then write down the top 3 things that month that you feel positive about, the top 3 things that you are grateful for and the top 3 deeds that you have done where you have helped someone. If you can complete that exercise I guarantee you will start to feel more positive and you will also see a more positive picture of your future. Not one bit of fear insight.

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.”

– Maya Angelou

5. Be prepared for hard times and for failure.

It’s a life long journey managing your fears. Learn from other fearless people about how you can be more resilient and where you can find your courage. Resilience and courage will give you the strength and determination to master your fears.

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

 Vincent Van Gough

6. Plan to Be Great.

Having a plan of action will mean that you won’t fall into the trap of giving too much time, energy or attention to fear. Be accountable and start to work toward getting results. In your  Plan to be Great you need to be real about yourself and about what action steps you will need to take toward achieving your dreams. You will need  to calculate, minimise and manage the level of risk – this is essential to the success of your plan. The last and the most important thing to be noted in your plan is that you are accountable for celebrating your victories. The past and the present victories need to be recorded in a journal, shared and celebrated. Please don’t forget to Celebrate because if you do forget you will find your fears will start to appear more regularly in your daily thoughts.

Become comfortable with your fears, embrace your fears and start learning how to be a master at managing your fears. Once you manage your fears then you will accomplish feats in your life that you would have thought impossible. You will find that you will be living your greatest and happiest moments when you push through the barriers of fear. Why would you not want to Master Your Fears if you know how great the rewards are?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who am I to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous. But honestly, who are you to not be so?”

– Marianne Williamson

Featured photo credit: imgix via unsplash.imgix.net

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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