Think about your biggest goal. Why haven’t you accomplished it yet? If you’re like most people, the answer is basic: fear. Fear is the limiting factor stopping you from working toward what you really want. Fear distracts us and leads to excuses – but it doesn’t have to. Learning how to overcome fear is one of the most liberating pursuits you can undertake.
It’s easy to pretend fear isn’t influencing you and to make excuses as to why you haven’t achieved what you’re capable of. Instead of turning around and hiding from it, treat fear as a cue to take action, not an excuse. Look at your goal. If you let fear chase you away from achieving it, then you’ve effectively given in. This is why the path to overcoming fear includes acknowledging the fears and limiting beliefs holding you back.
Tony Robbins has helped millions of people start overcoming fear and creating lives they love. These 10 steps will teach you how to conquer fear and move you closer to the life you want.
Learning how to overcome fear can be an intimidating prospect if you don’t understand the mechanisms behind fear. Before you berate yourself for feeling afraid, recognize that fear is a normal evolutionary response. Although it may not feel like it in the moment, your body and brain are trying to communicate with you. When you learn to read the signals, you can overcome fear for good.
When we encounter a threat to our emotional or physical well-being, it triggers a physiological fight-flight-or-freeze response designed for survival. Without the fear response, you’d leave yourself wide open to danger. Yet in the modern world, our bodies respond with fear to many situations in which we face no physical threat. Fear is triggered by a known outside event – a loud noise, looking over the edge of a high place or standing in front of a crowd.
When you’re afraid, you’ll feel your heart beat faster and your breathing quicken. You may feel a “pit” in your stomach, feel dizzy, sweat or get a dry mouth. Your muscles may feel more tense or weak. These are all results of your body sending extra adrenaline and blood to your muscles and brain. It’s preparing you to fight or flee – but it often happens in situations where we don’t really need to do either.
Think of anxiety like long-term fear. It’s typically focused on the future rather than the present. Anxiety disorders are on the rise, and even in the absence of a psychological disorder, fear keeps many people from taking the necessary risks to reach true fulfillment. For many of us, risks like taking the leap into a new career, letting ourselves be vulnerable in a relationship or even investing our hard-earned money cause plenty of anxiety.
All this worry about potential consequences of things that haven’t even happened yet causes plenty of physical symptoms. When you live in a state of stress, your body releases a chemical called cortisol. Too much cortisol can cause problems sleeping and focusing, weight gain and even affect your immune response.
Anxiety is extremely common in America: As much as 18% of the population is affected each year. If you have difficulty falling asleep, can’t concentrate and replay the same scenarios in your head over and over, these are signs of generalized anxiety. Anxiety can also manifest in a more acute way: panic attacks. Panic attacks come on suddenly and cause shortness of breath, sweating and chills, a pounding heart and an overall sense of dread.
Phobias are another common type of fear – as many as 12% of adults experience a phobia at some point. This is an extreme fear of a very specific situation, object or animal. Spiders, heights, public speaking and enclosed spaces are a few well-known phobias.
Whether you’re experiencing general anxiety or acute fear, if you let it run unchecked, you’ll never achieve what you desire in life. Overcoming fear lets you harness the fear response and use it to your advantage.
Learning how to conquer fear begins with finding your center. Here are tried-and-true tips to overcome fear and anxiety so you can live life at its fullest.
Learning how to overcome fear is much like any problem-solving challenge in that you must identify the challenge in order to overcome it. What is it you’re afraid of? Sit quietly for a few minutes and observe your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Write down what comes up, and be as specific as you can. Consider embracing a daily mindfulness meditation practice to gain greater clarity on what drives you. As you find your center, you’ll feel empowered to confront your fears.
Our emotions exist to tell us things. When you feel fear, your soul is trying to tell you something – so listen. If you feel overcome by stress or distracted by a subtle-but-persistent anxiety, it’s likely a subconscious fear that needs your attention. Rather than avoiding it, overcoming fear requires leaning into your anxiety. View the fear as a piece of information instead of a threat to your survival. When you use anxiety to your advantage, it can’t ruin your life. In overcoming fear, it becomes your ally – a critical source of guidance to reach your full potential.
There are times for action and times for reflection. Acting too quickly to overcome your fear can lead to behaviors that do more harm than good, like reaching for a drink, indulging in comfort food or even repressing the feeling entirely. Next time you feel fearful, try something new: Do nothing. Sit with your fear for a few minutes. Think about it. What is the root cause? What is the story you tell yourself about why you can’t overcome this fear? This isn’t to say you shouldn’t take action. A moment of reflection can have a great effect on overcoming fear in a way that is productive, deliberate and effective.
Oftentimes the process of overcoming fear becomes stymied by uninspiring or elusive goals we set for ourselves. To turn this around, ask yourself: What does the life you desire and deserve look like? Is it just a “someday, maybe” plan or do you actively work toward it? Is it something that is attainable and you’re willing to commit to? The first step in overcoming fear is identifying whether or not you’re creating a compelling goal. If you accomplish this, will you feel fulfilled? Conversely, if you don’t accomplish this, will you be lost?
Dig deeper into your goal. What is your ideal outcome? Is it financial growth – more money in the bank? Maybe you want the financial independence to travel anytime, anywhere? Consider what your life will look like if you don’t achieve this outcome and compare it to what your life will look like if you do. Once you feel that your goal is essential, the fear of not trying at all eclipses the fear of failure – that’s when you’ll be inspired to act.
Fear makes you put things off. “I’m really tired. I have other stuff to do. It’s a dumb idea anyway.” These excuses probably sound familiar, don’t they? You’ve probably said this out loud and to yourself. Think about it. Is there any truth to these statements, or are you constructing excuses to avoid potential failure? It’s much easier and less painful to make excuses than it is to put in the long hours and energy it will take to work toward your goal, but excuses and opting out will ultimately leave you feeling unfulfilled. If you want to find out how to conquer fear, you need to take a different, proactive approach.
Recognize when you are using excuses and figure out how to overcome them. Too tired? Adjust your schedule so you can get a better night’s sleep. Not enough time? Assess your priorities and find out where you can make time. And the next time an excuse comes to you, make the decision to not give in to the little voice telling you “No,” because it won’t help you grow in the long run.
Tony says that “Proximity is power.” This is also known as the law of attraction, or the idea that, in essence, you become the people you surround yourself with. Tony puts it another way: “Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life.” If you’ve turned your “shoulds” into “musts” and recognized all your excuses but still aren’t sure how to overcome fear and put your goals into action, it’s time to examine your focus.
People who are truly focused on overcoming fear and achieving their dreams surround themselves with others who have the same mindset. These are people who you not only look up to, but who will push you to achieve your goals. To overcome fear, you need to raise your standards – and allow others to hold you accountable.
When you’re afraid, you tend to stay in one place. What if you make a mistake? What if you fail? You start to believe you can’t progress at all, that you’re incapable of it – the fear holds you back. One of the most powerful tips to overcome fear and anxiety is to adopt a growth mindset. It’s not about achieving your goals and being perfect every step of the way. No one is ever perfect all the time, so stop striving for that. It’s about getting comfortable with what you don’t know and continuing anyway – this is the foundation of a growth mindset.
As Tony says, “No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow your progress, you’re still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.” As you work to overcome fear, you will realize that there will be lots of trials and tribulations along the way. As soon as you’ve accepted that the path to success includes growth and change, you’ll be one step closer to attaining your goals.
No one likes pain. Most of us go to great lengths to avoid it. But pain is a profound teacher. If you accept that your life and your efforts to achieve your goals will be painful at times, painful experiences become opportunities for growth. When you let go of pain as a threat to your survival, it loses its power and becomes another tool for overcoming fear. Everyone experiences hardships in life. It doesn’t matter whether your setbacks are personal or professional – what matters are the lessons you take from those experiences and how you apply them to your future. Instead of letting pain and fear dictate your decisions, actively choose to learn from those painful moments to be in control of your own life.
You’ve done the mental work: identifying the real reasons you’re holding yourself back and determining your must-haves in life. But overcoming fear requires that you practice these habits daily so they will lead to true action.
Tony says, “Identify your problems, but give your power and energy to solutions.” Goal visualization is one of these solutions. It’s used by some of the most successful athletes, actors and entrepreneurs, like Michael Phelps, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith and women’s soccer star Carli Lloyd, among others.
Goal visualization sets your focus – and where focus goes, energy flows. It can take the form of priming, meditation or imagery training. The important thing is that you see yourself succeeding and fully immerse yourself in your goal. You’ll condition your brain to believe that anything is possible – a key step to overcoming fear.
What’s the number one fear people have when it comes to accomplishing their goals? That they’ll fail. But like pain, failure can teach us. In fact, failure is often a better teacher than success. If you accept from the onset that failure is an inevitable part of success, you’ll be less afraid of it. Failure can provide you with valuable learning experiences that will positively impact your future strategies.
Everyone fails. Successful business owners. World leaders. Prominent chefs. Artists and scientists and doctors. Our society shies away from talking about failure, and instead celebrates successes; this creates the false impression that to be truly successful you must never fail. But part of overcoming fear is recognizing that everyone on the planet – including those you know and admire – has encountered failure on their path to greatness. The quicker you realize your fear of failure is preventing you from making the decision to accomplish your dreams, the sooner you’ll be able to accept the possibility of failing and move on.
How you respond to fear is what sets you apart from the rest of the crowd. Break through your own barriers at Unleash the Power Within, where you’ll learn how to overcome fear and tap into your inner power.