Feel the fear and DON’T do it

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Many say that the way to overcome fear is to face it head on. Do what you fear long enough, they tell us, and you will eventually conquer that fear.

There are others who say otherwise.

One group of philosophers say that instead of making ourselves do something that makes us uncomfortable, we should heed the feeling. “Never move forward in fear,” they say.

Who’s right?

Should we brace ourselves in the face of fear and soldier on? We know this works. If you fear public speaking, for example, but force yourself to do it enough, you often overcome the fear and are better for it.

But facing your fears can also make you miserable. For every one time we think, “I’m glad I stuck with it,” there might be three times when we think, “I never want to do that again!” Isn’t there a way to accomplish the deed without the pain?

The folks who say, “Never move forward in fear,” say there is. They say we can (and should) eliminate the fear first, or at least dilute it enough so that we aren’t bothered by it, and then take action. They also say that doing it this way will allow you to do the task more easily and get better results. You can speak without trembling knees and sweat dripping down your face.

Sounds good to me. But how? How do we dissipate the fear?

Therapy? Hypnosis? A stiff drink or two?

The philosophers who recommend this path suggest that you guide how you feel about the activity by changing your thoughts about it. “Reach for a thought that feels better,” they say. Keep doing that until the fear is all but gone.

So maybe you think, “I’m not going to have a heart attack and die on stage”. Marginally better thought, yes?

Then you think, “It’s only twenty minutes. I can get through this.” Relaxing a little. Feeling a little better.

“I have something worthwhile to say.” Yes, you do. And the audience wants to hear it.

“Actually, it’s a friendly crowd.” Feeling better and better.

“Once I get past the first few words, I’ll be okay”. That’s the ticket.

And so on. Little by little, thought by thought, you think your way to feeling better and better until the fear is all but gone.

I’ve done this before and it works. It takes a little practice, but it’s not difficult.

Anyway, you don’t have to feel the fear and do it anyway, you can remove the fear and feel good about it.

Try it. Find something you know would be good for you but you’ve been putting off because of fear. Change your thoughts about it, little by little, until the fear is gone or at least completely under control. And then do it.

Your mind is powerful. It created your fears and it can be used to eliminate them.

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