What is Fear?
Fear can have several meanings. In this guide, fear means a disturbing feeling caused by the threat of something bad happening.
Every person experiences fear from time to time. Fear can paralyze you and hinder your success. It can also galvanize you and spur you to succeed.
Your fears may change over time as you and your circumstances change. By following the steps in this guide, you will respond wisely to your fears and eliminate them or use them for good. The 4 Types of Fear
There are four primary types of fear:
Type 1: Fear of physical pain that you may suffer due to lack of shelter, food, protection, clothing or money.
Type 2: Fear of mental or emotional distress that you may feel.
Type 3: Fear of physical pain that others may suffer.
Type 4: Fear of mental or emotional distress that others may feel.
Your fears may consist of a combination of one or more of these four fear types. The intensity of fear correlates directly with the level of anticipated pain or distress. What are some examples of fear?
Example 1: You’re walking alone at night on a dimly-lit street in a high-crime neighborhood. You are wearing expensive clothing and jewelry. You feel afraid that someone may attempt to rob you.
This fear is composed mainly of Type 1 listed above, mingled with Type 2 (and perhaps Type 4 if an attack on you might hurt your ability to care for others).
Example 2: You’re watching your teenager drive away in your car to a party with her friends. You worry that she may make moral decisions she will later regret. You’re primarily feeling fear Type 4, mixed with some of Type 2 and Type 3.
Example 3: You’re working full-time to support your family, but you’re not making enough money to pay the bills. You worry that your spouse and children will not have enough food to eat, and that you will lose the house in which you currently live. This fear is a composite of all four types listed above.
So … how can I overcome my fears and have more success? You promised to tell me.
Right! Now that we’ve established what fear is and how it can affect your personal and professional performance, let me give you a five-step process to overcome it.
Step 1: Identify Your Fears
What are you really afraid of? How much have you thought about that? Have you written down exactly what your various fears are?
Increasing your awareness is the first step. You have to know what it is that’s causing you to feel fear.
Now, you may feel downright frightened at the thought of talking about and dwelling on your fears. But remember – you can’t fight the enemy if you don’t know anything about him.
In a few minutes, we’ll talk about actually defeating your fears. For now, the point is to understand them.
Consider the following questions:
1. How do my fears make me feel? What do they cause me to do or avoid doing? 2. What prompts me to feel fear? When am I most afraid? 3. How does my life suffer because of my inability to overcome my fears? 4. What would I like most to change about those situations which bring my fears to the forefront? 5. What would I like most to change about my response to my fears?
As you answer each question, think about the types of fear you may be experiencing. The four fear types generally run in descending order of urgency – while all are important to address, you should probably prioritize your attention as follows: Type 1, Type 2, Type 3, Type 4.
Studying your fear is like shining a bright light in a dark room. Everything becomes clearer, and things that once seemed menacing often turn out to nothing but shadows. And even the really scary stuff becomes easier to face, because you can discern its shape, its color, its direction. You can finally look fear in the eye and prepare to fight it.
Step 2: Track Your Interaction With Your Fear
The second step is to sharpen your focus. Just as a person first sees light and color entering from all directions and then decides to look at one thing for a certain time, you need to first identify and then focus on your fears and your experiences in relation to them.
So now that you’ve identified what makes you afraid and how your fears cause you to behave, you need to form a plan that will keep your attention fixed on facing your fears and your response to them.
Here’s an example of how you could do this for your life.
1. Get out a blank sheet of notebook paper and turn it sideways.
2. Make eight columns going across the page, with Fear as the title at the top of the left column and the days of the week as the titles of the other columns.
3. In separate rows in the left column, write each of the 3-5 most significant fears you currently face.
4. Go across the page and fill out when you expect to interact with each fear and what you intend to do when that interaction takes place.
5. Review your written plan each morning and each night, writing down the results along the bottom of the page under each day.
The main idea here is to keep close track of what you actually do about your fear now that you know what it is. In fact, if you’ve had trouble identifying your fear in the first place, this step may help jolt you into seeing it more clearly.
When you fail to plan … you know the rest. And it may take several weeks or months (or longer) of sustained focus to really understand the nature of your fears and how you tend to react to them.
So don’t skip this step, please! Step 3: Decide What to Do
Honing your discernment is the third step, and it’s the next thing to do about your fear in order to overcome it.
If you’ve had any difficulty up to this point in identifying or paying close attention to your fears, this step should really help. While Steps 1 and 2 make you look carefully at the past and present, Step 3 shifts to a view of the present and the future. It makes you ask the question, “Where will this choice lead?”
Here’s a six-point routine to help you discern and decide more clearly what you must do to vanquish your fear.
1. Simplify complex things – Insist on a simple plan of action. Complexity will only make conquering fear harder at this point. So instead of ten resolutions for improvement, go with two or three.
2. Understand the nature of something – Look at the charts or measurements you took in Step 2. What do they tell you about yourself? About what scares you? About what works and what doesn’t?
3. Perceive character, thoughts and intentions – Peer into your mind. Why do you want to overcome your fear? What results do you hope to achieve by meeting fear head-on?
4. Estimate value – For each potential plan, analyze its strong and weak points. Try to quantify it somehow.
5. Recognize difference – Compare your possible plans to each another. How do they differ? What advantages and disadvantages do they present?
6. Determine truth – Be scathingly honest. Now is the time to get real about what makes you afraid and what is the most effective way to respond.
Once you’ve come up with an action plan to face your fears, write it down and review it daily. Exercise your decision-making power of discernment. Make decisions about your fears or they will govern you.
Step 4: Imagine New Solutions
Until now, you’ve spent your attention mainly on answering these three questions:
1. What are my biggest fears? 2. What happens when I encounter my fears? 3. What should I do to face my fears?
Let’s add a fourth:
4. How can I approach my fears more creatively?
Imagination can be incredibly powerful. Without it, life’s vibrant colors fade to gray. That’s why exciting it is the next step you should take to tackle your fears.
Here are a few examples of imaginative approaches to fears:
Example 1: You’re afraid that your business is wasting your time and your customers’ time. Rather than just asking, “What do you think of our business?”, you decide to face your fears with some creativity. You make a contest announcement – the first 10 people to tell you how they think you should improve your business get entered into a drawing for one of your flagship products. You reward the participation by sending each suggester a coupon for a discount on that product, and you give away at least one or two to randomly selected winners.
Example 2: Your biggest fear is writing. You spend hours and hours poring over drafts, never satisfied with their quality. On top of that, you develop a strong fear that people are upset with you for publishing so rarely. So you settle on a slightly unorthodox way of overcoming these fears. You resolve to post five times a day to your public blog for three weeks straight, without explaining why to anyone. As you force yourself to post even when your drafts aren’t “perfect,” you come to realize that your audience actually prefers your new, more authentic voice.
Example 3: You have a somewhat popular store that is rapidly losing ground to a competing store in your niche. You are afraid that people will stop coming to your store altogether. Instead of merely begging for them to stay away from your competitor, you decide to try to befriend her, or at least network with her. Over the course of three months, you and she develop a healthy cross-promotional relationship and both see an increase in business as a result.
Here’s one from my own experience. I started blogging publicly in October 2005. It took many months for me to acknowledge and face my fear of rejection.
I slowly came to see that my vivid imagination was the culprit.
I would daydream of someone visiting my blog, rising from their chair in anger and accusing me of wasting their time, for instance.
So one day I finally decided to let my natural sense of humor emerge.
The result? Blog posts I felt more passionate about – and smiled at more. Reader responses that egged me on. A greater sense of satisfaction and less worry about what others thought.
In short, I stopped taking myself so seriously.
So learn to laugh at yourself. After all, isn’t it funny how we let ourselves be afraid of trivial things most of the time?
It’s often this “imagination” step that converts a paralyzing fear into an electrifying one. So get a little crazy. It just might be what you need to survive. Step 5: Go the Distance
The final step is to strengthen your diligence. And it’s the pinnacle of any quest to overcome a serious, deep-seated fear. If you’re not willing to go an extra hundred miles to make sure you’ve left your fears behind, you’re not ready to call them gone.
The best thing you can do to increase your determination in the face of fear?
Talk to yourself. Talk to others. Don’t stop preaching to yourself about how powerful you really are and how much you deserve to be free of fear’s shackles. Don’t stop talking about your fears and exposing the cracks in their armor. Don’t stop asking other people to help you get up after a fear-filled fall, or to make the final grueling steps to the summit.
The other best thing you can do to finally destroy fear?
Keep walking. No matter how far you’ve come, your journey will be in vain unless you decide to take one more step, one more step, one more step. You must continue until you reach your goal, pausing occasionally to catch your breath but never turning back or giving up.
Remember: There is no growth without overcoming. We need obstacles like fear to give us opportunities to grow.
Hurricane Katrina, that terrifying monster of a storm that tore through New Orleans and the U.S. Gulf Coast in the fall of 2005, left battle scars not only across the land, but also in the hearts of its battered victims. A year later, I was blessed with the opportunity to get to know a tight-knit community of writers who lived in the storm-stricken areas. These men and women, many of them professionals, chose to publish their frustrating journeys to the world, day after day, despite a slew of fears that could nearly suffocate and drown even the strongest of souls. Some of them still do.
Their example of diligence in the face of fear changed me forever.
Conclusion: You Can Do This …
… So Do It
Fear is an enemy to all success – unless you face it wisely. Then it becomes an opportunity to improve. The five steps to follow:
1. Increase Awareness: Shine a light on your fears. Get to know them inside and out.
2. Sharpen Focus: Track your confrontations with fear. Watch your performance closely.
3. Hone Discernment: Choose carefully how to combat your fears.
4. Excite Imagination: Try creative approaches to solving fear.
5. Strengthen Diligence: Never give up. Resolve to overcome fear no matter what.
We at Sweep The Earth hope this simple guide helps you live a happier, more fear-free life – and overcome your fears related to sharing the Gospel.
More Notes on Fear and How to Overcome Your Fears
Key points to overcoming my fears:
– I am worthy and deserving of success, good rewards and recognition.
– I am completely right to want to go forward and succeed.
– I am prepared to handle the negative responses that might occur.
– I know that success requires change.
– I freely choose a life of success. I see that it as easy as choosing to do what the Lord has told me is right.
– I am good enough.
– I recognize and welcome the the chance to triumph over competition without feeling unworthy or undeserving.
– I have amazing gifts that I will always allow to shine.
– I will put forth full effort always.
– I will get enough rest and nutrition so I can perform at peak levels.
– I will watch myself closely to make sure I do not trip myself up on my way up the mountains of life.
– I will be assertive, pro-active and decisive.
– I will keep myself intensely motivated to grow, achieve and succeed more.
– My purpose is to serve others and glorify God.
– Visualize yourself in a brave, rich life. Then go get there.
Alma 58:10 – Does “we” include the 2,000+ ammonite warriors? if so – and it appears so – then that adds a whole new dimension to the story – they feared temporarily, and that’s ok – they were human – and after having fought (not before, when they didn’t fear).
Remember, it’s only natural to be grieved and filled with fear in a very hard situation (Alma 58:9). There is no sin in having that initial reaction. The sin happens when you choose to develop that fear and not reject it.
Think: If God has commanded me to do a work, why should I fear to do it?