Fear is the barrier to most of what we want in life, in fact, how we deal with fear is as good a predictor or indicator of whether we will be successful as any. Being able to overcome your fear will allow you to start where you're stopped, and keep going when challenged. Ok, you want to overcome it, but first, let's get clear on what it is.

Fears are simply feelings. Nothing more than feelings (ok, I had to). What's important is to separate fear - a feeling, from doubt - a thought, or risk assessment - a thinking process. Both the feeling of fear, and the doubtful thoughts as to whether you can handle it are both part of your survival mechanism. What you are really interested in is when your risk assessment says proceed, and your fear holds you back


Fear may only be a feeling, but, the way those feelings occur is enough to stop us in our tracks. And, for good reason. Fear is a biological response to a threat - and a critical component of a defense system which has kept humans alive for thousands of years. It's built in, and it's necessary. It has the ability to take over your body (literally), and stop your upper brain functions (logical thinking) altogether.

When fear strikes, first, breath. Actually, exhale. Then shake your body out and relax. When threatened, our response is to prepare to run or fight - so we inhale and keep it in and tighten up our muscles ready to pounce. Just by altering your body, your fear will start to diminish.

So, how do you overcome a part of you which has so much control and has been around for thousands of years? There are 3 main ways to accomplish this:

Reduce the fear

  • When you repeatedly put yourself into fearful situation, and the worst outcome of that fear doesn't happen, the fear starts to fade. This process is called desensitization. You start small then work your way up to more and more fearful situation regarding your fear. Cute stuffed spiders - realistic stuffed spiders - pictures of real spiders - real spiders behind glass - real spiders in your hand. You get the idea. Same applies with other fears - asking for the sale, making that call, public speaking, etc.
  • When you are afraid of something you've never done, or haven't started the desensitization process, by simply vividly imagining yourself in the situation can help. The lower brain (where feelings come from) can't differentiate very well between reality and imagination - so it thinks you've done that fearful thing before just by imagining it. And, just like desensitization, when you've done it before, it seems easier and less fearful.
  • Sharing your experience can have your unwanted feelings diminish - whether fear or other feelings. Simply by relating those fears to another, being understood by them, and ideally having them share back with you their shared fears, provides you both ease in overcoming those fears.

Alter the Fear

  • When you alter your context (see Winning without Work), you alter what it is your are afraid of. You may start being afraid of talking in front of all your employees, but by shifting your context to something like "I'm an example of what I expect", the threat changes. Now the fear of having your employees see and model a fearful person is more threatening than going on stage. The threat changed.
  • A less sophisticated method of dealing with fear is to simply distract yourself. You've heard the "imagine them naked" solution. It may sound silly, but it works.

Brute Force

  • A capability all of us have in varying degrees is willpower. Willpower is the ability to push ourselves into action even when our feelings or thoughts are resisting. A word of warning, though, you have a limited quantity before it needs to be replenished (via a nap, meditation, workout, etc) - so don't be surprised if you can't resist that doughnut after finishing the presentation. Manage your willpower so that you use it when needed, and it can be a powerful weapon against being stopped by fear.
  • Your overall level of confidence will allow you to take action in the face of varying levels of threat. When your confidence is high, you can push through larger amounts of fear. The confidence doesn't even have to be in a related area. Get a huge sale in the morning, and getting in front of the employees will be a breeze. When you actively boost your confidence before fearful situations, the fear looks more manageable, because you look more capable of managing it.
To deal with the fears you will ongoingly face in your life requires that you be good at managing and pushing through them. Regardless of the solution, or combination of solutions, you use, what's most important is that you make sure fear doesn't stop you.

Gary Menezes, 2019-01-24 | Posted in General