When s**t hits the fan, it’s natural to be scared, to be apprehensive, or to want to avoid thinking about the source of your fear. It’s easy to just say “I’m scared” and leave it at that but, here’s an uncomfortable truth — you have to push past your fear if you want to live a fully actualized life. 

Fear is a completely normal response — it’s what protects us and keeps us safe in certain circumstances — but just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s useful. Fears can come from the body’s desire to keep itself safe or from experience or some combination of the two. But fear can become unwieldy, interfering with our enjoyment of life or our willingness to experience new joys. 

Does your fear of flying stop you from traveling to visit family members or prevent you from taking the vacation of your dreams? What about socializing with coworkers after work? Have you turned down social invitations simply because you were anxious about not knowing anyone in the group?

When your fear starts to dictate what you do in life, you need to face it so you can be in control, not your fear. In addition to the following steps check out this post on using.  After all, you can’t live in a bubble! It’s time to start living your life instead of watching life passing you by and one way to do it is to start conquering your fears, or at least reign them in a bit. 

To help you gain control of your life, here are a few tips on how to get over your fears: 

  1. First, identify your fears. Get a piece of paper and write down exactly what you’re afraid of. It doesn’t matter how long the list is, whether it has one thing or 15 things on it, and it doesn’t matter if it sounds irrational. No one needs to see the list other than you. This is about you taking control and getting over your fears. 

  2. Next, figure out why you have the fear. Try to remember a specific incident that might have caused the fear. Maybe your fear of flying intensified because you’ve been on a turbulent flight. Or maybe your fear of dogs stemmed from being bitten as a child.

  3. If you’ve blocked out these memories because they’re too painful to remember, a professional can help you reach those memories and decipher their meaning. A professional can also advise other forms of treatment, such as hypnosis or the emotional freedom technique (EFT).

Now the hard part begins: overcoming or conquering these fears. Be patient and be prepared to do some work because, just as the fear took time to develop, it will take time to conquer.

Take Baby Steps

Therapists often use a technique of exposure in small doses, “baby steps”, to help their patients overcome fears. Taking small steps, one at a time, helps you build confidence and eventually (with patience and practice) overcome the fear. Continual exposure will help you retrain your brain into a less fearful response.

What would your baby steps be? It depends on your fear. 

  1. If you’re afraid of social situations, slowly start going to different events. Start with small groups, preferably with a few people you already know. Try open air environments, then transition slowly into larger gatherings. The purpose here is to prove to yourself that there’s nothing for you to fear. 

  2. If you’re afraid of dogs, take this same approach by visiting a friend who has a friendly and well-behaved dog. Small dogs are much less intimidating (although they might bark more frequently). If your friends don’t have dogs, ask your local vet’s office or animal shelter if you can visit. Start by just trying to be in the same room as the dog, then perhaps petting it, or letting it sit on your lap. You don’t have to develop an overwhelming love for dogs, but think of how nice it would be to go to your best friends house that you avoid simply because they have dogs?

  3. Fear of flying is much more difficult to conquer because of the expense, but you can look into hypnosis. Volunteer to take your friends to the airport or pick them up so you gain exposure that way. Also, some airports or flight schools might have classes in airplane simulators that help you feel like you’re in an airplane. That type of plan will take more research but will open the world to you.

Through each step remember to breathe and most importantly remember to be gentle with yourself. Remind yourself why you want to overcome this fear, what your goal is and, perhaps most importantly, try not to be hard on yourself. You probably won’t get over a fear you’ve had for years in a few days and that’s okay — embrace that fact that it’s a process and that may make it easier. 

Remember, true courage isn’t the absence of fear, but feeling a bit scared and forging along anyway. Plus, there is a sense of accomplishment in doing what you always wanted to do but couldn’t because you felt afraid. By facing your fears, you will open yourself to many more opportunities and you can start enjoying life more. Start taking the steps now to get over your fears and confidence will start taking its place. You will become the kind of person that says yes to life instead of being scared of it and that is one of the best things we can do for ourselves!