Let’s be honest: We all have something we’re afraid to do. Whether it’s speaking in public, joining a new club or even leaving an unhealthy relationship, there isn’t a person out there who doesn’t have some kind of fear. The problem is when that fear begins to take over your life.
“Fear is fear, and if it’s stopping you from accomplishing what you really want to do in your life, then it’s getting in the way,” says Crystal Andrus, author of Simply… EMPOWERED and star of Slice Network’s X-Weighted.
But overcoming your fears and improving your life isn’t as easy as ripping off a band-aid – you can’t just jump in and do that which you are afraid to do. You’d never truly succeed in facing your fears and could end up doing yourself more harm than good.
“You can’t take someone with severe anxiety disorder, for example, and tell them, okay, today you’re going to go out and talk to a bunch of people,” Andrus says. “That’s crazy talk, and when people do that, it’s crazy.”
Instead, Andrus recommends taking a slow, steady approach to facing your fears, starting by dealing with your underlying issues. While you may not overcome your fears and change your life overnight, it will happen, she adds. Here is her advice on how to successfully face those fears.
Deal with any unfinished business: Before you can face your fears, Andrus says you must clean up your unfinished business. Stop thinking about what your life “should have” been (i.e. I “should have” been a famous singer) and deal with what your life is today. “Stop thinking about what your life should have been, could have been, ought to have been, because it’s not,” Andrus says. “It’s time to start letting go.”
Understand your fears: Next, think about what it is you are really afraid of, says Andrus. For example, if it’s staying in an unhealthy relationship, ask yourself why. Perhaps you are afraid to be alone and that is keeping you with that person. “You’ve got to understand what you’re really afraid of,” Andrus says. “Sometimes, it is your worst fears of what you could be.”
Clarify what you want: Once you know what it is that’s holding you back, it’s time to look at what you really want in your life. For example, maybe you want a strong, committed relationship, or to move ahead in your career. Start by writing out your desires, Andrus recommends, and figure out exactly where you want to be.
Get angry: You’ve let go of the past and have a vision of how you want your life to be. Now it’s time to get angry, Andrus says. Get frustrated that you haven’t overcome your fear yet. “Get angry enough to say, I’m not happy and I’m not settling,” Andrus says. “I’m worth more than this. I deserve more.”
Find your courage: Now it’s time to channel your anger and use it to push past your fear. Andrus recommends you make a list of the steps you would need to take to succeed, if you were guaranteed success. For example, if you were going to sing in public, what steps would you have to take to get there? Perhaps you would sign up for singing lessons, get a group together and find an open mic night near you. Or, if you want to move past a bad relationship, maybe you need to write a letter to your significant other or make an appointment for counseling. Find your will to get it done and then you can overcome your fears and achieve your goals.
A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.