We all experience moments of fear in our lives. At work, we might be scared of speaking up or giving honest feedback. In our relationships, we might fear moving to the next step, or being vulnerable with our partners. Researchers have found that “anticipatory fears”, the predictions we make based on our fears, can end up holding us back from taking action, and cause us to remain frozen in place. But when we can take a minute to pause and empower ourselves to move forward in those moments, we can unlock our potential.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the tips that have helped them overcome fear in their lives. Which of these strategies will you try?

Start with one small step

“When I was starting my business, I made a pact with a dear friend who was also contemplating a life-changing decision. We agreed to pursue the fear and committed to taking one small step in that direction every day, believing that even small steps can lead to big destinations! Today, she’s created a life in the city of her dreams and I’m doing the work I was put on this earth to pursue.”

—Stacy Cassio, CEO, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Remind yourself how good you’ll feel afterwards

“One tip that I use to help me face my fears is reminding myself how good I feel after I face the fear. I always feel very proud and brave after completing something scary, and those are feelings I look forward to when I’m anticipating something scary. Those good feelings are kind of like a reward after doing it.”

—Sarah Rudman, healthcare operations, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Write down what you’re feeling

“I find that most of my fear-based moments are just that: moments. When fear creeps in, it knocks my nervous system out of balance and anxiety kicks in. I’ve learned to lean into ‘this too shall pass’, which has helped me find my centre in those moments of internal chaos. Once I’m back on emotionally solid ground and able to look at the situation with a stable nervous system, I take notes in my journal on the experience. Over time, the notes have become research, and they help me understand the themes and roots of my emotional wounds. It is a process that I am committed to in order to evolve past my fears.”

—Heather Colleen, writer, Los Angeles, California, USA

Use positive self-talk

“I recently faced the fear of speaking up for myself. I was being asked to take on a role that I was not comfortable doing. First, I took a breath, and I then had a talk with  my inner self. I said, ‘Gerry, you don’t want to do this so you have the right to say so in a positive way’. I walked through my fear and said what I needed to say. I felt great relief in my heart that I stood up for myself. I find it more effective when I actually use my name in my self-talk.”

—Gerry J. Tucker, author and HR consultant, Austin, Texas, USA

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

“One of the tools I have learned to use when fear creeps up is the deconstruction method — the one that says: ‘What’s the worst that can happen? They say no?’ The instant I replace fear with this logic, a feeling of instant release chases the tensing and tightening up away. I try to remember the ingredients that make children fearless, and remind myself of that scene in Batman when the child jumps to get out of the cave, blindly risking her life. Instantly, I remember the beautiful outcome that comes with being fearless— ultimate freedom.”

—T.K., Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Talk to a loved one about what you’re feeling

“As I’ve gotten older, I have realised that our fears truly hold us back from living in the present and enjoying the precious moments we have now that we will never get back. When faced with fears and stuck, I first try to look inward and identify the source. If that’s too painful, I seek out someone who will listen without judgement or bias. This can be my coach, a therapist or a loved one. The worst thing you can do is hold on to your fears and allow them to grow and take over your entire life.”

—Joshua Miller, master certified executive coach, Austin, Texas, USA

Tap into your curiosity 

“I learned a long time ago (and teach my clients) that the antidote to fear is not courage or bravery. It’s curiosity. So when I’m frozen by fear, I get curious. I use the sentence stem ‘I wonder…’ and complete it as many times as possible until my curiosity overwhelms my fear and I move into action.”

—Carolyn Mahboubi, certified master coach, California, USA

Think about what your fear is teaching you

“I’ve found that looking for a lesson in the fear is a fantastic motivator to help you to keep moving forward. I recently decided to learn to scuba dive with my teenage son, and I really wanted to do it for him, but I was much more scared than I expected. I thought about cancelling our scuba holiday, but something made me curious about this fear and what I had to learn. So I went, and what I noticed was that scuba diving was challenging me to speak up when I wasn’t okay. I had to rely on myself to protect myself, and it challenged me to learn to trust myself. Fear contains powerful lessons!”

—Nicola Harker, doctor and coach, Bristol, UK

Remind yourself to maintain perspective

“One tip that has helped me to face my fears is reminding myself that if the situation goes wrong, it is not the end of the world, and that situation does not define me. It is only one page in the book of my life.”

—Connie Washington, VP of people, Utah, USA

Focus on the end goal

“When I am overcome with self-doubt and find myself retreating from sharing my voice and work, I use visualisation as a tool to move through my fear. I spend a few minutes each day imagining how it will feel to have a project come to life, or to reach a goal that feels unreachable. I don’t focus on how I will get from here to there, but rather on how it will feel once I get there. The feeling of possibility and excitement motivates me to move forward, no matter how big my fear appears.”

—Emily Madill, certified professional Coach (ACC) and author, Nanaimo, B.C., Canada

 

First published on 8 November 2022, here.

Rebecca Muller
Senior Editor and Community Manager at Thrive

Rebecca Muller Feintuch is the Senior Editor and Community Manager at Thrive. Her previous work experience includes roles in editorial and digital journalism. Rebecca is passionate about storytelling, creating meaningful connections, and prioritising mental health and self-care. She is a graduate of New York University, where she studied Media, Culture and Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. For her undergraduate thesis, she researched the relationship between women and fitness media consumerism.

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To see how Thrive Global handles your personal information please see thriveglobal.com/privacy/.