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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

How to Overcome Fear and Find Success (The Ultimate Guide)

How to Overcome Fear and Find Success (The Ultimate Guide)

Take a moment and imagine what your life would be like if you had no fear. What would you do if you knew how to overcome fear? It’s not difficult to imagine that overcoming fear would alter your life significantly.

I believe that fear is the single biggest obstacle that holds people back from fulfilling their potential and becoming the best version of themselves.

Fear of failure, fear of abandonment, fear of success, fear of not being good enough

The question is…where does it come from?

Neuroscientists claim that humans are the most fearful creatures on the planet because of our ability to learn, think, and create fear in our minds[1]. We scare ourselves by imagining the worst possible outcomes, assuming that we are protecting ourselves from imminent danger.

You make the choice to be a victim of your fears or to push them aside and be courageous.

In this article, we’ll look into the root cause of fear and how we can overcome it to realize our potential.

What Is Fear, Really?

This acronym best reflects what fear is[2]:

Learn how to overcome fear with the fear acronym

    Fear is an emotion created by your mind based on real or imagined threats. Fear may be completely founded in reality…or not. It may also manifest as anxiety disorders in some cases as anxiety is based on worries about the future.

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    These imagined scenarios of perceived threat end up feeding your fear to the point where it becomes all-consuming. Here’s the kicker… often, these scenarios never happen.

    The real issue is not the fear itself, but rather how we hold it in our minds.

    How to Overcome Fear

    Overcoming fear may sound easier said than done. When you are in the thick of fear, it’s hard to see a way out. The good news is that, because you are the root cause of your fears, you are also the solution to them. However, none of this will be possible if you aren’t ready to face your fears.

    1. Identify Your Fears Through Writing

    There are times when I’ve felt afraid, but I didn’t even know why. If you keep your fears inside, you allow your mind to control how you feel. We all know how that turns out!

    In order to prevent this confusion from happening in the first place, the first step is to identify what your fears are.

    What makes you feel afraid?

    Instead of just thinking about these things, write them down. When you write down your fears on paper and actually question them, it forces you to analyze why you are afraid. Questions are designed to trigger your fears and bring them to the surface.

    Is this going to be a comfortable process? Absolutely not.

    Deep inner work never is! However, if you continue to keep your feelings in the dark, the scarier they will be, and the more disempowered you will become.

    Once you identify the type of fear and the experience that you associate with your fears, you become armed with the power to take action to change them. Eventually, your fears become smaller and smaller, and your strength gets bigger and bigger.

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    2. Practice Gratitude

    If you want to learn how to overcome fear, gratitude is key. From personal experience, I have learned that it’s difficult to experience fear and gratitude at the same time. They are literally on opposite ends of the continuum of the human experience.

    When you are experiencing difficult times in life, it’s easy to drop into fear. Everything feels overwhelming. In that energetic space, it can be hard to stay grounded.

    Developing a gratitude practice allows you to not drown in fear. It doesn’t mean that you won’t still feel it, but the blow will be lessened, thereby allowing you to see the brighter side of struggle (yes, this does exist).

    In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their physical and mental health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships[3].

    Anyone who experiences fear knows that there is almost always a story attached to whatever it is that you’re fearful of. Regardless of what that story is, the running theme is, “I can’t do something.” Fear loves to hang out with your inner critic and come up with worst-case scenarios about what could happen.

    Gratitude helps keep these limiting stories at bay. When you practice gratitude, your brain shifts to what is currently working instead of what isn’t working.

    The act of being fearful is a future-oriented process, while gratitude is a present-oriented one. The next time that fear tries to creep its way into your head, replace that disempowering thought with an empowering one. It sounds easier said than done, but it works.

    3. Release Control

    Are you a control freak? If so, you’re not alone. This is how a lot of people manage their fears, or so they think. Unfortunately, control has no place on the path to learning how to overcome fear.

    In actuality, all that they are doing is masking their fears by trying to control everything. If you can relate, it’s time to release control. Trust me when I say that this is a losing battle.

    Fear results in controlling behavior, and when this behavior doesn’t give us the results we’re seeking (which is usually the case), it further intensifies our fears.

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    In your attempt to control fear, you actually become a victim of it. This fear and control cycle leaves a lot of people feeling defeated. The reality is that there will always be things that are far beyond your control. That’s just how life works.

    The only way that we can move past needing to be in control is to accept that it is not always up to us. While you may be in control of your decisions, you don’t always have control over situations that you are pushed into, nor can you control how others react.

    The only thing that you have control over is your inner world and how you choose to respond to your external environment. The next time you catch yourself trying to control everything, step back and ask yourself what you are afraid of.

    Start to get curious about what thoughts are generating your fear. Curiosity and fear don’t like to co-exist. Once you let go of one, you invite the other in.

    True freedom comes from fully releasing control. When you are able to do this, you begin the process of releasing your fears as well.

    4. Recite Positive Affirmations

    Positive affirmations can be used to combat almost any negative thought pattern, which can be very helpful when you want to learn how to overcome fear. Using them to help challenge your fears can help re-train your brain and have your fears reframed as powerful statements.

    Research shows that you can actually train your subconscious mind such that it will help you to attract exactly what you desire in life[4].

    Instead of saying “I am afraid of doing this because I might fail,” look in the mirror and say to yourself, “I am prepared for this. I am ready. I will not fail.”

    The more you use positive affirmations, the stronger they become. The best way to cancel a negative belief is to develop its positive counterpart.

    Commit to making positive affirmations a key component of your morning ritual. It literally takes one thought, repeated over and over again, to set you on the path to transforming your entire life.

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    Here’re more positive affirmations you should try: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life

    5. Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You

    Living in your comfort zone will get you nowhere in life, and it certainly won’t help you learn how to overcome fear. In my experience, not doing the things that scare you will only increase the likelihood that your fears will grow and inevitably take over every decision that you make.

    I want to encourage you to do one thing every day that scares you. It can be something small. All that matters is that you take action. Make it a habit to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

    Putting yourself in new and uncomfortable situations triggers a unique part of the brain that releases dopamine, nature’s make-you-happy chemical. Here’s the mind-blower: that unique region of the brain is only activated when you see or experience completely new things[5].

    When you condition yourself to do something every day that scares you, your fear fades away, and your courage grows. Think about it…when you face your fears, how can you fear them again? Soon enough, your confidence will skyrocket.

    Final Thoughts

    The next time that you feel threatened by fear, I encourage you to pull upon one or more of the above strategies. Change your relationship with fear. Instead of letting it knock you down, use it as motivation to grow and achieve more.

    Once you recognize that fear is not real, the obstacles that appear to stand in your way will be removed, and you will feel empowered to take action.

    Your potential in life is limited by only one factor: you. Are you ready to transform fear into action?

    More on How to Overcome Fear

    Featured photo credit: Jonathan Klok via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Ashley Elizabeth

    Resilience Mastery Coach and Motivational Speaker

    What Motivates You to Succeed in Life and Keep Moving Forward? 5 Reasons Why Keeping a Mood Journal Is Good For Your Mental Health 5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion 5 Steps to Bounce Back Fast When Life Knocks You Down

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    Published on February 19, 2021

    8 Greatest Obstacles In Life You Must Overcome To Be Successful

    8 Greatest Obstacles In Life You Must Overcome To Be Successful

    Whether it’s planning a public speech or a kid’s birthday party, our intentions lean toward success no matter the endeavor. And whatever success we are hoping to attain, there will likely be obstacles that we must face. When these obstacles surface, we can either shy away and miss our chance or meet these challenges informed and ready.

    Although obstacles can seem like the outside world is plotting against us, in reality, these external challenges are merely triggering hurdles that already exist within. They might be memories or beliefs we have about ourselves that act like mud and slow us down. We can be trapped by our own self-sabotage.

    What could happen if you knew about and prepared for these obstacles beforehand?

    If you knew what you were up against, perhaps you could come equipped with just the right tools to get through anything that threatens your chance at success. Perhaps you could take an obstacle that felt like a mountain and turn it instantly into a mere molehill!

    Here are 8 of the greatest obstacles you must overcome on your way to success:

    1. Perfection

    One of the most common obstacles we face is the need for perfection. Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, shared that her mother always used to say, “done is better than good.” Anyone prone to perfectionism is going to find it difficult to remain on the road to success if everything has to be “just so” all the time.

    Perfection is the killer of creativity, vitality, and accidental discoveries! There are so many instances of people fortuitously discovering things that we use every day.[1] If they had been so concerned with perfection, they may never have enjoyed the success of their “mistakes!” Plus, learning from our mistakes is how we develop and grow throughout our lives. Therefore, “perfect” will never provide a straight shot to success.

    How can you stop going for perfection? Just as it may have taken years of practice to “perfect” a skill you have acquired, it takes practice to undo perfectionism.

    Try the following:

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    • Try new things and let go of your expectations.
    • Don’t do everything on your “To-Do” list. See what happens when you leave it for tomorrow.
    • Learn how to prioritize (no, everything isn’t equally important all the time).
    • If you’re feeling particularly rebellious, send an email with a typo in it!

    Have fun with this and learn how to laugh at yourself. Welcome to the wonderful world of being human.

    2. Fear

    Fear is triggered when we have a thought or perception that we are not safe and secure. This is quite a useful tool when there is a real threat to our safety. However, when the threat is imaginary, fear can actually prevent us from doing the work we need to do to achieve our goals.

    As with perfectionism, the best way to deal with fear is to become more mindful.

    Here are some steps you can try in working through fear:

    1. Sit with the emotion of fear and notice where you feel it in your body. Notice the thoughts that accompany the feeling.
    2. Ask yourself what you are afraid will happen and write down your answers.
    3. Visualize yourself experiencing your worst fears. How did you feel imagining your worst fears coming true?
    4. Ask yourself when you have felt this way before. How did you cope with it that time? What strengths could you use in your previous visualization?
    5. Imagine yourself using your strength with the imagined worst fear. How does it feel to know that no matter what happens, you have the tools and resources to handle it?

    In this exercise, we’re trying to be okay with the emotion of fear. Fear is actually trying to help by keeping you “safe.” It calls upon memories of when you were threatened in your life. But when we spend all of our energy trying to prevent the feeling of fear, we make it stronger. We also deny ourselves the memories of all the times we have faced our fears and triumphed.

    Allowing the fear to be present and calling upon memories of making it through challenging times helps to convince our minds that, as President Franklin Roosevelt said, the “only thing to fear is fear itself.”

    3. Lack of Clarity

    Imagine that you are going on a trip and you need to pack. Your suitcase is out, but you don’t know any details of the trip. You haven’t decided where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, or what you’ll be doing. How easy will it be to pack for this trip?

    If we’re trying to run our careers or lives without clarity, it can be nearly impossible to figure out what we need to be doing to get to our destination of success. So, how do we get clarity?

    Author and speaker, Simon Sinek, had some excellent advice for businesses on how to get clarity, and it applies beautifully to just about any area of life. According to Sinek, when clarifying your “message,” you should start with your WHY.[2] In other words, why are you doing what you do? Once you are clear on your “why,” it will be much easier to figure out your “how” and your “what.”

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    Let’s go back to the packing analogy. Perhaps your why for vacationing is to get some much-needed rest as you have been stressed out lately. That tells you that a quiet vacation might be better than one with lots of museums and crowded attractions. Your “why” tells you that you don’t want to be very active, but you do want to take care of your body, mind, and spirit, perhaps by spending a few days at a nearby spa. Less travel means less stress. Looking at the spa, you see they have a 3-day retreat. Now, you know how to pack.

    See how easily those details fell into place once you got clear on your “why”? Imagine what success you could achieve once your “why” is uncovered!

    4. Making Comparisons

    It’s natural for us to compare ourselves to other people. That’s how we know whether we’re doing things correctly or not and how we can continue improving. When we get into a habit of making comparisons all the time and feeling bad about not being able to “keep up with the Jones’,” this can pull our energy down. And when our energy is down, so is our motivation to keep working toward our goals.

    As with perfection, it’s important to be mindful about how much importance you’re placing on “keeping up” with what you think everyone around you is doing.

    Want to stop sizing yourself up to others? Try the following:

    • Notice the feelings that come up for you when you compare yourself to someone else.
    • Ask yourself, “what information am I really getting from this comparison, and what’s helpful about it?”
    • Keep the helpful bits from that line of questioning and let go of the rest.

    Remember that when you compare yourself to another person, oftentimes you are seeing the potential that already resides within you.[3]

    5. Untamed Inner Monologue

    How do you talk to yourself? Do you tend to say uplifting and encouraging things to yourself? Or is your self-speak often negative? An untamed inner monologue can serve as a great obstacle to many people.

    Many people grow up with the idea that the inner monologue is what drives us to become better people. We get “tough” on ourselves to prevent laziness or sloppiness. If unchecked, the monologuing can quickly become negative and purely critical. Despite our intentions for self-improvement, this constant habit of pointing out what’s “wrong” with what we do and who we are can become a huge energy drain.

    According to the Mayo Clinic, overcoming negative self-talk is good for our health.[4] Some of the benefits of maintaining a compassionate inner voice include lower levels of depression, better immune function, and improved coping skills in stressful times.

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    Activities to develop awareness about your inner monologue and make it more compassionate include:

    • Keeping a thought diary (there are so many great apps for this!).
    • Reframing negative self-statements neutrally or compassionately.
    • Asking yourself what a trusted friend might say to you.
    • Thinking about what you might say to a friend if they were in your shoes.
    • Considering EFT Tapping or saying affirmations.
    • Allowing yourself to follow the inner critic down the worst-case-scenario path (this version might have you laughing at how ridiculous your inner critic’s imagination truly is).

    6. Unclear Boundaries

    So far, we’ve covered several ways that internal boundaries are necessary on the road to success. These include monitoring your fear, limiting your need for perfectionism, lacking clarity about what you want, making unhealthy comparisons to others, or having a mean-spirited inner monologue.

    How about those boundaries we need to clarify with other people in our lives? To be clear, boundaries are not about saying “no” to everything and cutting yourself off from everybody. Healthy external boundaries are about being communicating to others about what you want, how you want to be treated, and what your plans are.

    If we have unclear boundaries with others, success will result only by accident, if at all.

    People pleasers and empaths especially know how challenging it can be to set boundaries with others. The desire for harmony can be so strong for some people that they convince themselves that it is easier to let others make the decisions rather than risk creating conflict.

    The problem here is that no matter how hard we try to avoid conflict with others, we will create conflict within ourselves that results in roadblocks to success. If you have trouble setting clear boundaries with others and you want to be successful, start building your muscles around this skill slowly.

    Here are a few steps:

    1. Identify little things that you like and want.
    2. Tell people about what you like and want in your life.
    3. Notice what happens in your body when you say this out loud.
    4. Identify things you don’t like or want.
    5. Notice what happens in your body when you think about these things. (Your body is really smart when it comes to telling you what you don’t want!)
    6. Tell trusted people what you don’t like or want.
    7. Notice how it feels in your body to say this out loud.
    8. Practice saying “no” to something really small that you don’t want and work your way up to bigger things.

    Without boundaries, it’s like being water and trying to hold a shape without being in a container. You get to create your own container and watch your success take form.

    7. Unreasonable Expectations

    It’s important to dream big. It’s how we allow inspiration and big ideas to come to the surface of our awareness. But if our dreams are not grounded in the reality of our current resources, we might be headed for some disappointment or even worse, the loss of our dreams!

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    Setting reasonable expectations is the bread and butter of success. If you haven’t been introduced to setting SMART goals at this point in your life, it would be a good idea to try it out.

    It might not always be possible to know whether or not something is reasonable, especially if you’re trying out a brand-new-to-you project. If the expectation is for a new project to work without any bumps or glitches, this is likely to be unreasonable. The consequences of this experience could be losing your drive to succeed.

    If the expectations for a new project include the idea of bumps and glitches that hold seeds of learning and growth, then even the perceived “mistakes” will turn out to be a success. This has the positive benefit of fueling your motivation to keep working toward even more success.

    Be mindful of where you set the bar—neither too high nor too low.

    8. Unreasonable Definition of Success

    What is your definition of success? Asked in another way, from what perspective are you seeking success?

    It’s easy to think that success means achieving the goal(s) you set for yourself. But there are so many ways to look at success. You might be missing out on some opportunities to really feel like you are shining in your life.

    An unreasonable definition of success might be one that only allows for one specific outcome. If that outcome is not reached, then success is not the result. But if we allow for multiple definitions of success, we might find that success is much easier to come by than we previously thought!

    To expand your definition of success, ask yourself the following:

    • What would need to happen to make me feel successful?
    • What else could happen to make me feel successful?

    Keep brainstorming all the outcomes you could experience to create a feeling of success.

    Final Thoughts

    Being successful requires overcoming a lot of obstacles, and many people will fail at some point. The key is to tackle these obstacles one step at a time. In the words of Joyce Brothers, “Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.”

    More Tips on How to Overcome Obstacles

    Featured photo credit: asoggetti via unsplash.com

    Reference

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