Face Your Fear

We’re all afraid of something, but when it comes to conquering our fears, where do we start? Here are six expert lessons on how to handle fear. 

By Anthony Gunn Adapted from: Walking Tall: Overcoming Life’s Little Challenges by Anthony Gunn

Australian Psychologist Anthony Gunn is an expert in overcoming fear and phobias. As a teenager he underwent a harrowing six week medical treatment in Honduras for a collapsed lung. He transformed what he learned from that experience into a life long examination of fear and phobias.

Now this "fear specialist" offers his lessons on overcoming your fear.

Lesson 1: Share your fears

There’s nothing truer than the age-old saying that “a problem shared is a problem halved”. Maintain your equilibrium by talking with someone you trust. Start by sharing a small fear. Pick up the phone, write a letter, type an e-mail or talk to a trusted person face-to-face.

Lesson 2: Choose to be wrong

We don’t like to be wrong. So, as strange as it sounds, if you think you can’t do something, you’ll unconsciously sabotage your efforts in order to be proven right. Increase your self-esteem by opening yourself up to the possibility that you’re wrong about what you cannot do. Whenever anyone steps out of a comfort zone in life and faces a new challenge, there fear waits. The person who says he doesn’t feel fear either has a damaged brain or is lying.

Lesson 3: Negative thoughts are normal

Not only is it normal to feel fear when facing a new challenge, it’s normal to have negative thoughts too. Acknowledge these thoughts; allow them to be present without passing judgment or accepting them as truth, while continuing to walk tall towards your goal. Trying to banish them, as with fear, will only make the thoughts flare more menacingly. Rather, allow them to be there without reacting to them.

Lesson 4: Control yourself to control your situation

The only thing you have full control over in this world is your own reaction. A common way to mismanage fear is to try to control things over which we have no control—such as the stock market, other drivers, friends, family, or work situations. Remember, you cannot control others—you can only control yourself and your responses. Take control of your reaction and you have a far greater chance of influencing the outcome of a situation.

Lesson 5: Surf your discomfort

People will often go to great lengths to avoid feeling the discomfort associated with trying something new. The key to gaining control in a situation is to treat your fear like a succession of waves—and learn to “surf” them. Most people find this process difficult because they misinterpret fear as being harmful, instead of viewing it as the healthy protective response it is. The result? Most people react by dismissing their dreams. For them, fear isn’t the problem – rather, it’s the way they’ve reacted to it.

Lesson 6:  Make mistakes

Mistakes aren’t bad. The fear of mistakes, though, will imprison you in your comfort zone. Instead of being scared of making a mistake, be scared of not making one, because without mistakes there is no growth. All great discoveries and accomplishments were made by makinga mistake first.

So go on, find a comfort zone and step out of it!

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