To me, the only way courage is found is by facing fear directly.
It’s as simple as that. Then courage builds more and more.
But as humans we easily shy away from fear, and when we step back and think about it – why wouldn’t we? The thing we’re scared to say, do or face, has potential to hurt us or someone else, so we can use fear as a form of protection in many ways.
We’re all terrified of things – it’s part of being human and it’s ultimately the reason why our ego was born; to protect us from harm. Fear also has its place in many ways.
But instead of being petrified of potentially being eaten alive by an animal back in the day, our ego has taken fear by both hands and uses it in too many ways in our daily lives.
We fear letting ourselves down, others down, mistakes, not earning enough money, not having the ‘right’ job, not having a relationship, not having enough friends, what others think, coming out with something silly etc etc.
I’m sure this resonates with everyone.
Fear can be used for us to gain courage if done properly, it’s just we often miss it, even when the opportunity is right in front of our eyes as we revert to type and run away from it.
Here’s 8 powerful tips that may help you find courage and use fear effectively:
- You are not your story.
Whatever happens to you in life is not who you are. Yes, we all have challenging times. Yes, unfortunate things or ‘bad luck’ happens to the best of us, but it doesn’t define who or what we are.
When we define who we are based of what happens to us in our lives, we automatically lose sense of reality and suffer.
When we’re scared of doing something, we can automatically tell ourselves a story which convinces us that doing this thing really isn’t a good idea.
This is an excuse and we feel safe and warm when we sit behind it so we will avoid doing anything that scares us.
When we cling to our story – and inevitably relay this story to everyone else in our lives as a way of seeking reassurance and playing the victim – we give ourselves a free pass because it ‘must be true if everyone else agrees with me’.
This is the ego.
Let go of the drama and try doing whatever it is you’re scared of doing, and be honest with yourself. Drop the excuses and admit you’re scared, but still try to do it.
Can you really not do it, or are you scared, lazy or convincing yourself its a bad idea, thus making an excuse?
2. It is okay to feel scared.
Following on from point 1, know that feeling scared is absolutely fine and absolutely normal because you’re human.
Now if you were a robot we might have an argument here, but we’re not, and we have emotions.
There’s a difference when you proclaim ‘I’m scared’ to ‘I feel scared’.
Stating to yourself that you’re scared is claiming that you are a scared person, so you are excusing yourself from whatever it is you’re frightened of doing.
Whereas saying ‘I feel’ is totally different. ‘I feel’ is telling your subconscious mind that this is temporary and a feeling is an emotion, and emotions come and go and are not permanent.
So if you feel scared, allow it. It’s normal and it’ll happen many, many times. And don’t beat yourself up. Let it pass through you by taking some time out to be present with it.
3. Take baby steps.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was conquering human challenges that aren’t easy.
If you cannot swim, it’s not wise to jump in the ocean for your first swimming lesson expecting to come out as an efficient swimmer.
Rather, you would go to swimming lessons where you are guided and master each stage before you are competent enough to go alone.
The same goes for conquering fear. We can jump in at the deep end (and it’s actually very beneficial to in many ways), but it can also put a lot of people off because as soon as they do something, fear amplifies and they revert back to avoiding it.
So small, baby steps in facing something works wonders. If, for example, something triggers you and it stems from a deeply-rooted subconscious belief – then this can be mastered by being gentle on yourself, but putting yourself around that which triggers you little and often, to allow the body and mind to adjust to it.
Go easy when it’s needed.
4. Don’t compare to anyone.
One thing I noticed in myself and see in others, is how easy it is to compare against those who succeed in the things we do not have the courage to try.
This does not make us inadequate; this makes us nothing. We do not need to label ourselves as anything. They may do something you are scared to do, but they may avoid doing what you consider the most simplest task through fear, too.
For example: One person may love to swim and is very good at it, whilst someone else may have a fear of swimming in public as they consider themselves not to be a good swimmer, so fear judgement.
On the flip side, using the same two people as an example: The person who is a very good swimmer and is extremely confident in that perspective, may really love the idea of delivering seminars to members of the public sharing knowledge on how to become a competitive swimmer, but is refraining from taking this business opportunity up as they are petrified of talking in front of the public.
Whereas the person who considers themselves to be not a good swimmer and is in fear of judgement, is a scientist and delivers speeches to schools, universities and government agencies in front of hundreds of people, with no fear at all.
Be the best you can be, without any pressure and compare yourself to nobody. You are unique in your own way, just like others.
5. Find time to be with your fear.
When fear arises, the ‘normal’ coping mechanism is to try blocking it out as we find it is easier working around it as opposed to facing it head-on.
You may notice that this is short-lived and the fear comes back tenfold continually and never goes away – not for long anyway.
But, one thing I think works very well is by taking some time out if you can to be present with the feeling of fear. Sit or lie down with it and really sink in to what exactly you are feeling.
The more you do this you will find you are aware that fear is nothing more than an emotion that is part of being human, but the perception attached to fear is conditioned in us. And ultimately, emotions come and go like waves in an ocean.
We don’t have to cling to any fear and treat it with too much seriousness if we view it from this perspective. It is not who you are. It is an emotion, just like joy, and you will find just like fear, joy comes and goes too.
Be with it as often as possible and it will lessen.
6. Follow your heart.
When something feels right or wrong, we can tell as our heart or gut informs us.
If you’re tuned in enough it is quite overwhelming. But, this can be confusing when the mind is in the drivers seat as we can question and question if what we’re feeling and thinking is actually right or wrong, as sometimes what we’re feeling is not what we want to admit to ourselves.
The mind will talk you out of most things, so this is where fear creeps in, so be very careful of this.
The heart or body will respond in a way that you know is right, even if it is telling you something that isn’t ideal.
Go with this feeling. There will be situations that are very unpleasant to deal with, yet the heart couldn’t make it anymore obvious what it is that it wants.
Face this fear that comes up from the mind and follow your heart. You will be led to bigger and more suited things on your path if so.
7. It begins outside your comfort zone.
Nothing worth having is generally found within your comfort zone.
The things that we want that also promote fear in us are found outside our comfort zone. Sure, it’s all nice and warm in our comfort zone; we’re free from hassle, pressure and stress, so we choose to stay there because of this.
But the things we really want are only found once we take ourselves away from the warmth that safety brings.
I cannot stress enough how much progress is made from taking the plunge and just doing what it is that you need to do. Confidence increases dramatically, and so does your self-belief.
8. Reflect often.
It’s always good to reflect on your progress.
A good way of reflection is by looking back on the path you’ve been on facing fear, how far you’ve come, where you were, and the difference etc.
This can spur you on for future situations when you are faced with fear. You will remember other situations where you have made progress by facing fear and follow this.
Remember: no pressure, no expectations. But reflect on how far you have come and how you can face what you used to think you struggled with.