Ideas about conquering fear

Photo by NordWood Themes on unsplash.com

Photo by NordWood Themes on unsplash.com

There is much written about fear. It is an emotion we all learn early in life. We learn to conquer and to fall prey to it. The most significant fears are perhaps the quiet nagging ones that create doubt in our minds about our abilities to do things. Perhaps you have wondered what you could do, if you had no fear?

The role of fear
Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger (Psychology Today). It is suggested that this response enables us to protect ourselves from legitimate threats. In caveman days, this was necessary for survival resulting in the fight or flight response to threats.

In modern times, we often fear things far removed from life or death situations. We may fear social situations, being able to perform tasks satisfactorily or perform physical feats. The consequence of this sort of fear is often hesitation, loss of confidence and unwillingness to try new things.

Fear of the unknown
Quite often our fear is based on uncertainty. Uncertainty in not knowing what will happen, how we will respond or be affected by something, if it is the right move, or whether we will we manage what unfolds. With so much change in our lives – economic, social, technological – the fear of uncertainty is easily fuelled.

Fear also changes in life stages. With age, there are differences in the perspectives we take on life and the fears that may be incumbent. We may be more confident about our work abilities and knowing ourselves, while facing new fears associated with physical abilities.

Is it fear or fear of fear itself?
When people who have achieved great things are interviewed and asked about how they did it, there is often a similar theme evident. They say things like, “I just didn’t think about what could go wrong.” Perhaps it is a matter of perspective and self belief?  This resonates with one technique to conquer fear and anxiety outlined by Harvard Professor, Amy Cuddy.

Manage your fear and boost achievement
Cuddy proposes a self-affirmation approach. She suggests these steps:

  • Identify your core values – what are the things that no one can really change about you?
  • Why do they matter to you? Consider these your anchors.
  • Write about a time when you express this.

Research shows that this simple affirmation exercise can lower stress and anxiety, including cortisol and epinephrine (stress-related hormones). More than this, it allows the person to perform better on challenging tasks.

How does it work? By affirming something that you are really good at (being yourself) and is core to your being, makes you less stressed. The affirmations remind us of who we really are and that not being perfect is okay. We can face a stressful situation and manage it, knowing that no matter what the outcome – you will leave that situation as yourself.

Personal power is the key
Your personal power emerges in the things that you possess – your values, skills, knowledge and personality. Identifying this in yourself, and affirming it, is key to achieving personal power. Cuddy suggests that everyone can be personally powerful. This is not a competitive thing. Everyone can do this – and be the best version of themselves. It is liberating. People open up. They take action. They create. Ultimately, they are more interesting.

Listen to Amy Cuddy talk about this in this short clips:

What are your thoughts about this approach?

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