As the cabin door opened, I felt the Central American humidity and a strong dose of fear strike me. “How am I ever going to survive this trip?” I thought to myself.
I’m not the most adventurous traveler, haven’t traveled on my own previously and never been in a country where I didn’t know the language well.
I was afraid of being kidnapped, of getting lost, of being robbed, of losing my plane ticket and my passport, of not being able to speak Spanish well enough on the street to find a place to eat and then starving to my death in hunger!
How was I going to make it through Costa Rica and Central America for the next few months?
My fears had instantly become real as the stewardess was rattling off welcome greetings in Spanish and passengers stood up ready to make a mad dash to the exit.
What are you afraid of?
Fear is that pesky internal talk within ourselves that makes us imagine the worst outcome, makes us doubt ourselves and prevents us from being our best selves. Regardless of real or make-belief, fear is crippling and damaging to each of our lives.
As my friend Caroline just wrote , fear of success and fear of failure keeps us right where we are in life without allowing us to move forward.
We are afraid of trying out something new and failing because we don’t want to look bad, fall on our face, be laughed at or be ridiculed. (And I’m not just talking about the first time I went skiing a couple years ago.)
We are also afraid of success because we fear change, alienation from people close to us and simply being our best selves.
When trying out something or taking on a new challenge, fear holds us back from excelling.
The best-kept secret to conquering fear.
I’ve found one of the best secrets to conquering fear is reflecting upon past similar successes when you conquered fear.
Remember that trip to Central America that terrified me?
I reflected upon the times I did travel by myself, the times that I was in an unfamiliar country (trips to India when I was younger) and other travel successes. I realized that I had successfully made it through each of those travel challenges and enjoyed myself (and lived to talk about them).
Naturally, my travel adventure was one of the best ones in my life. It was a journey to self-discovery and overcoming my fears of travel.
Reflect on past success when facing uncertainty or the unknown (and when filled with self-doubt and fear)
In my travel fears, I had to reflect upon my past successes and ability to overcome my fears in past situations, to remind myself that I had overcome that fear before and will do so again.
Now, you may be afraid of doing something in your life. Before you take another step, do this:
1) Acknowledge the fear and why you’re scared of doing something. The first step to conquering fear is realizing you’re in fact scared of something.
2) Accept that the fear is real in that it’s holding you back but unreal that it’s likely the worst case scenario you’re imagining. Fear is usually a trumped up feeling of inadequacy and a creation of your mind.
3) Whatever it is you are afraid of, look at and reflect upon those similar past events in your life. If you are afraid of starting a new career, look at how you achieved success in your past career. If you’re afraid of giving a speech, reflect upon all the positive speeches you’ve given. If you’re afraid of whipping up a gourmet meal for your mother-in-law and getting her approval, good luck!
4) Go forth with confidence. Know that you’ve done it well before and will do it well again. Use your previous success and ability to overcome challenges to help you conquer your fears!
Here are 12 additional fear-conquering strategies.
When was the last time you felt scared about something in your life? What do you do to overcome fear?