Almost all of us are afraid of something, whether it’s spiders, public speaking or even being alone. While fear is a normal part of life, it can become a problem when it affects your life and you don’t take steps to overcome it.
So how can we overcome our fears? Well, according to new research from Ohio State University in America, the key to conquering fears is a positive attitude to whatever it is you’re afraid of, combined with exposure therapy (i.e. confronting the source of anxiety head on).
The study in question looked at adults with a fear of public speaking, and it was found that those who had developed positive associations with public speaking maintained their progress while those who continued to associate speaking in public with negativity did not. Those with improved attitudes were also the ones who credited themselves for mastering public speaking, as opposed to those who credited the therapist.
If you are looking to conquer a fear of your own, try the following steps:
Ease yourself into it
First of all, make sure you do your prep work and ease yourself into the fear-inducing situation. You want to start off at a level that will challenge you, but not overwhelm you. For example, if you are afraid of speaking in public, start by practicing in a mirror before moving onto practicing in front of close friends, then eventually a couple of colleagues. After this, giving speeches in front of large groups may still be nerve-wracking, but at least you will have overcome your crippling stage fright.
Come up with a game plan
Having a go-to strategy in place for when you do face your fears can help you to regain some control over the situation. If confrontation makes you nervous for example, plan exactly what you’re going to say before you enter the conversation. Having this sort of game plan will help to diminish that powerless feeling.
Visualise the outcome
Visualising success is a proven tool for top athletes and it can help you too. Take some time to think about the situation you are afraid of and visualise it going well. Alternatively, visualise the worst-case scenario, the more ridiculous the better, and realise that this is not only unlikely to happen it is unlikely to have any serious consequence.
Talk yourself into it
Every time you say to yourself ‘I can’t’, you are giving your fear power. Challenge these thoughts with positivity and be kinder to yourself. By thinking like this, your body will eventually catch up and the fear will have lost all its power over you.
If fear and anxiety are inhibiting your potential, a life coach could help. Find out more by visiting our confidence page.
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