9 Techniques That Can Help You Conquer Any Fear

by Christa Avampato on 14 March 2014 0 comments

John Wayne, an American icon of fearlessness, famously said, "Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway." We're all afraid of something. What defines us is not that fear, but how we rise above it. Below are effective methods I've used to conquer my many fears and live a rich, fulfilling life in the process. (See also: How to Do Things That Scare You)

1. Breathe

When we're afraid of something, we hold our breath. It's a very natural reaction that signals to the body to brace itself for some kind of danger. If we can override that reaction and keep the breath flowing, we'll find our stress response (also known as "fight or flight") drops, and we're able to think clearly and perform to the best of our abilities.

2. Remember What You've Already Been Through

Everyone I know has faced some kind of hardship and difficulty. In times when we feel afraid, it's important to remember that we've been afraid before, and we lived to tell the tale. Those old crises didn't kill us. They made us stronger and more resilient. Best of all, while the fear eventually subsides, the strength and resilience we cultivate when we overcome fears stay with us for our entire lives. (See also: Build on Your Strengths to Find Success)

3. Keep a Journal

To aid my memory of past fears and how I conquered them, I keep a regular journal in addition to my daily blog. Every day I record my roses and thorns. I write down what went right in my day and what didn't go right. Then I think about how these events will inform my day tomorrow. Many times, I find myself writing about my fears and worries. Having this record I can flip through helps me realize I've been here before, I'll be here again, and I'll always find a way to be okay.

4. Build Your Support Network

Nothing helps us conquer fear like a cheering squad. Be a good friend and rally around others when they're afraid. That positivity will help you build strong bonds to others who can support you when you need them and it can do wonders to help you bolster your own sense of fortitude. (See also: Cultivating Relationships Is Good for You)

5. Fake It 'Til You Make It

When I'm most afraid, I tell myself the exact opposite message. I say to myself, "I am strong, tough, and capable, and I can get through this." Even if I don't believe these things in the moment, actively saying them to myself begins to change my mind. Once I change my mind, I can change anything.

6. Keep an Inspirational Quotes Folder

I'm a sucker for inspirational quotes. Pinterest has made it easier than ever for me to keep track of all of my favorites. I have a board titled "Inspirational Words." When I'm afraid, lost, and uncertain, I open it up and read a few of the pins to get my mojo pumping.

7. Make Home Your Haven

It's natural to seek refuge when we're afraid. My (very small) apartment is comfortable and has things that make me happy. It's a retreat for my mind, body, and soul and a constant source of calm that serves me well when I'm frazzled and scared. Find a space, however small, in your home that helps you repair and restore during times of trouble. (See also: Happiness Habits to Feel Better Now)

8. Knowledge Is Power

Uncertainty is frightening. When I'm faced with a new situation that scares me, I do everything possible to get informed and stay that way. No one in my family is a fan of the water, and I never learned to swim as a child.  At the ripe old age of 30, I registered for adult swimming classes. Though I'm still a bit nervous in deep open water, in a pool or shallow beach area I enjoy my time in the water after three decades of being afraid.

9. Break It Down

Many times just being overwhelmed by the enormity of a task can frighten us. When I was in college, one of my roommates gave me a one-inch picture frame. It still sits on my desk today and it reminds to take things one step at a time. My ability to break a large task down into many small manageable tasks has helped me accomplish more than I ever thought possible.

Fear is a natural human response. It's meant to keep us safe. We all have fears, but fears don't have to have us, nor stop us from living the lives we want to live.

How have you conquered your biggest fears? Don't be shy — share in comments!

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