How can we conquer fears and worries without prescription drugs or years of therapy? Here are some methods that have proved helpful to almost everyone who has tried them.
1 Analyze exactly what you are afraid of
Any fear that is faced honestly and truthfully may be conquered, if the source of the fear can be determined. But fear wears many masks. Once you are able to determine what your real fears are you can, with time and patience, overcome them.
2. Analyze your problem: can something be done?
The famous prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous embodies a philosophy of life that has helped change the attitudes of thousands of persons for the better.
God grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change; The courage to change the things I can; And the wisdom to know the difference.
An old English proverb puts it this way:
For every evil under the sun, There is a remedy, or there is none. If there be one, try and find it. If there be none, never mind it.
If something can be done, do it. If nothing can be done, stop stewing about it.
3. Compute the likelihood of the thing you fear happening
We often overestimate the danger of unfamiliar actions, and overestimate the safety of the familiar. If you are afraid of flying, become aware of safety statistics. The fact is that plane crashes make the news because (1) they are rare and (2) when they happen, there are often many people injured. You probably do more dangerous things than getting on an airplane without giving them a second thought.
Be realistic about the odds of what you fear actually coming to pass.
4. Do the thing you fear
If you have a concrete fear, you can often conquer it by doing the thing you fear. In fact, Emerson wrote, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”
In order to get rid of a fear, we usually have to expose ourselves over and over again to the situation we fear.
Suppose, for instance, you’re afraid to get up in public and make a speech. If you get up in public only once or twice, you may never quite conquer your fear.
But if you get up in public at every available opportunity, each time you will lose a little of your fear. Psychiatrists refer to this process as desensitization.
5. Learn to deal with problems as soon as they arise
Ignoring a problem does not make it go away. Postponing action does not make the situation better, it makes it worse.
6. Overcome your fear of making mistakes
Many of our fears are based on past mistakes. Instead of profiting from our failures and learning from them, we let the memory of them paralyze us.
We might ask ourselves: What have I to lose if I act as though I did not fear the thing I do fear? When you discover you have nothing to lose, you release within yourself the power o£ positive action.
7. Have faith in your ability to solve problems
Faced with a new job, we are apt to go into a blue funk. Sometimes we are afraid we won’t be equal to it.
Here’s a way to build up your realization that you probably can handle the job, and handle it well.
In the next half hour, take a refreshing shower or bath. Then sit down with a pad and pencil and write down the things you’ve accomplished that should help to equip you for the job.
What are your strong points? Write them down. What are your weak points? Can you do anything to eliminate them? If you figure things up correctly, you’ll find your strong points outweigh your weak ones. And with your strength, you’ll be able to correct your weakness.
Surely, there is some reason why the boss picked you for this job. He believes you can do it. Why should he be wrong? Why should you judge yourself more harshly than he judges you?
Close the door on the past. Maybe you failed at something you tried to do ten years ago. What of it? Certainly you learned from that experience. In many ways you are different from the man you were ten years ago.
It is utterly impossible to live in the past. Never mind yesterday. Today is a new day. This very day will bring you over 1,000 minutes, which you can use as you choose.
8. Don’t expect to be completely worry-free
Some fears and worries have a rational basis, while others are based on exaggeration and misinterpretation. But only a moron could go through life completely unconcerned and unworried every second of every day.
What we want out of life is to acquit ourselves so that we can approve of how we ourselves have acted in emergencies.
Faced with a situation he fears, every human being either (1) runs away from it (2) faces it or (3) retreats temporarily, gathers his reserve strength together, and then attacks the situation again.
You can’t successfully flee from fear. We know that running away from any situation or fear is foolish. The man who absconds with the bank’s money will be caught, sooner or later. The deserter who walks out on his wife and children will usually be brought to justice. And within the bar of his own mind, he is condemned the moment he acts against his inner convictions. The salesman with the cold doorknob hand who refuses to knock on anybody’s door will never sell successfully.
We can build our courage by our daily actions. We can, by our small daily actions, learn to triumph over small fears, and so build up the kind of courage that will help us face large emergencies successfully.