I was watching an intriguing television show recently and the host was speaking with a gentleman who was born with an ultra-rare condition: he was incapable of feeling physical pain.
As a result, he had broken his bones hundreds of times, having no sense of caution about how he was moving his body; no threat of pain to stop him from hitting something too hard, jumping too high, running too fast.
It got me thinking about how incredible our lives might be if we were immune to fear. Too often, fear cheats us out of our true potential. It paralyzes us and keeps us stuck. But then I realized that although it may not be possible to be truly immune to fear, there are ways we can trick our brains into rejecting fear.
With the following techniques, we can throw the doors open wide to our futures and prevent fear from stepping in the way of our wildest dreams.
1. Rooting out the cause of our fear
Sure, there are things in life that are worth fearing. For example, I wouldn’t blame you for shaking in your boots while standing at the foot of an erupting volcano. But the fact is, the majority of our fears are irrational. At the first sign of fear, ask yourself how likely it is that what you fear will happen.
Don’t let a fear of shark attacks keep you out of a refreshing ocean. Find out how truly rare they are and realize that the odds of getting bitten are incredibly small.
If you’re afraid to speak in front of an audience because you think everyone will laugh at you, ask yourself how often you’ve seen an audience break into cruel laughter at the expense of a speaker. That usually doesn’t happen.
Asking, “What’s the worst that can happen?” This exercise is a shortcut to recognizing just how irrational your fear may be. The worst-case scenario is so unlikely to happen, it might even make your fear seem silly. Being able to laugh at it and ourselves will automatically reduce fear’s power over us.
2. Expecting the best
Instead of ruminating on the scenario you fear, flip the story upside-down. Visualize what you most want to happen. Not only will you lessen your anxiety, but by picturing your desired outcome, you are more likely to recreate that story when you’re actually in the situation.
3. Jumping in sooner rather than later
If possible, don’t prolong your agony. Jump right in. You’ll save yourself unnecessary suffering and dread. Converting the fear to excitement.
What do we feel in our bodies when we’re scared? Maybe a racing heartbeat, sweaty hands, breathlessness? Have you ever stopped to think that feeling excitement feels the exact same way? We can banish fear simply by changing our perspective and looking at our feelings as excitement.
4. Adopting a confident stance
The way we hold our bodies has a direct impact on how we feel. For example, if we sit slumped forward with our head hanging, our brain receives a signal that we’re feeling vulnerable or depressed. However, if we stand or sit with our shoulders back, our head held high, and our facial muscles relaxed, we can actually dissolve our own anxiety and trick our brains into believing we feel confident.
Which of these techniques appeal to you most?
Try one or a combination of your favorites to dispel fear and invite more possibilities into your world.