The #1 Fear-Conquering Secret to Overcome ANY Life Situation or Challenge.

Are you terrified this table-flippng New Jersey housewife will become your neighbor?

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.

I feared my body ending up in one of these carriages if things had gone horribly wrong in Nicaragua. NO BUENO.

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? 

27 Comments

  1. ha ha good point – then you should get scared. really scared:)

    so, I’d say reflect upon the good travel experiences. or even parts of your trip that were a success. so, if you went somewhere and came back, you made it back alive. success!

    if you got around without starving to death, success!

    if you managed to travel, tour, visit others and learn; success!

    I’d say look at the positives in the past experiences. Also, if there’s no positives of how you overcame an experience, look upon the positives of another similar experience. you went camping successfully. you took a local sight-seeing-trip successfully.

    if no success whatsoever in any of those things, time to stay home and lock the door:)

  2. Fear is a dicey thing, Vishnu. Many times, I’ve found it depends on the state of mind, the people involved and the outcome we expect. I’ve also realized the same thing doesn’t always scare me. So I just put it down to state of mind. Therefore, I must learn to ensure that I am mentally geared to be calm. And meditation helps big time. 🙂 I’ve read Cathy’s post. Love your take on this.

    1. Thanks for sharing your strategies for dealing with fear Vidya! Yes, state of mind can definitely change how we feel about fear. That’s why I’m regularly trying to come up with strategies to change my state of mind and like your tips.

  3. This subject could be covered multiple times over – it’s clarity and a mystery.

    My method is to assess how I would feel if I didn’t do what I was scared of. Chances are I’m even more afraid of that happening, so it is motivational !!

    – Razwana

    1. thanks Razwana. I like that tip. Not doing what you wanted to is scarier than doing it. And maybe if it’s not, then it’s not worth doing 🙂 ?

  4. Hey Vishnu, great post, I especially like point number two. Fear is most definitely usually based on the worst-case scenario, which actually rarely occurs. I read a great quote today that said “99% of the things that you worry about will never happen.” I think this is so true. Thanks also for the mention 🙂

  5. Yo Vishnu,
    Great post man. I like this idea. We can step back, think about previous situations and use it as evidence to guide us.

    I think this is something that a lot of very successful people do without being conscious about it. I was listening to a very successful entrepreneur in an interview the other day (I can’t remember his name) and he mentioned “When I set my mind on something new I just know I can make it happen.” Now reading this post I understand the deeper reason behind his statements. He unconsciously uses his past success as evidence that he will make this current event happen.

    I have recently been really scared of centipedes. Did you know they are poisonous, brutal, and can kill a human being if they bite you? They are vicious offspring of the devil!

    Well apparently these monstrous beasts live in Kyoto. Unfortunately I do not yet have any past experiences where a centipede and myself have battled it out… What do I do Vishnu? What do i do?

    1. Izzy, thanks for sharing the story of that successful entrepreneur and knowing that he could make it happen. By any chance, was he a ninja in Japan? lol

      I think the more we conquer fear by taking on that fear and accomplishing the thing we were scared of, the more easily we can conquer fear in the future. When scared, I think about the exact same situations in the past that I overcame.

      I’m not sure what to say of your fear of centipedes. That sounds scary – have you ever been fearful of other animals in the past? What did you do? If not, I’d suggest facing your fear with more terrifying animals today – like lions and cheetahs. Once you conquer these larger animals, centipedes will seem like a joke. But jokes aside, a more detailed ‘how to overcome your fear of centipedes post’ post will be coming your way.

  6. Hi Vishnu,

    Fear is definitely the biggest block to our potential to experience and achieve things in life. And it it a big one. As you said, acknowledgement is the first step. There is a lot of hard work then. As someone said above, it can be hard sometimes when our reflections bring up more failures than successes, but you are right. It is about looking back on the things you did before when you were scared and reminding yourself that you are OK.

    I think another big factor is our energy levels. If we are not eating right, not exercising and not sleeping properly I have found that this increases the fear levels. We need energy to push through the fear. It is extremely difficult without this.

    A big subject that many more discussions could be had on.

    1. Yeah, Keith – not just energy levels but our entire frame of mind. All those things you mention help put us in the right place. Being in a normal and healthy state of mind, using the techniques you mentioned and others, can help us find the energy to conquer fear. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Hi Vishnu,

    Very nice post!

    Fear can teach us to acknowledge and respect our limits. But that should be all, we mustn’t allow fear to paralyse our ability to act.

    Being aware of our fears and limitations is the first step to overcome them.

    I love how this quote by Mark Twain can relate to fear and conquering it:

    “Some of the worst things in my life never happened.”

    Some of our worst fears are not even real, or at least not nearly as big as we envision.

    Take care my friend!

    1. Completely agree with you Rod – we can’t allow fear to paralyze us. Acknowledgement of our fears, not matter how unreal those fears are, is key. Love the Mark Twain quote – I would say most of the worst things in my life never happened:) Why do our fears seem enlarged and then we minimize the achievement of those fears ?

  8. Age helps a lot with this process! I’ve been successful enough over the years to remember those times when I need reinforcement. And I’m generally just not as afraid as I used to be. Having said, that, there are still times, like something that happened a couple of weeks ago, that can still send me into a place of fear before I have time to take a breath. Using your steps would still help even then to get myself calmed down and recentered.

    1. Thanks Galen – with age comes wisdom and yes, lot of experience in overcoming fears:) I would imagine the longer I’m alive, the more experiences with fear I would have had. And the more instances of having conquered those fears. Taking a breath is always a good step when facing fears or other shake-ups in our lives:)

  9. Vishnu, I love how you completely change your thoughts by shifting your focus from something negative (fear) to something positive (past success). It is an awesome idea! This can be applied to so many areas of our lives. The next time I am feeling fear I am going to use your suggestion and remember a time when everything worked out fine and the worst didn’t happen.

    1. Glad you liked the tip Wendy. I’ve been doing it my whole life and I’m sure subconsciously we all are. We know we can do things, like overcoming our fears, cause we continue to do them everyday. I know people say don’t live in the past but recalling positive past experiences can help us overcome the present fear:)

  10. Awesome as usual, Vishnu! This post is so timely for me. Over the last few days, I’ve been feeling major anxiety and then last night, I realized was actually suffering from serious fear of a variety of things. The curse of the wild imagination! It’s crazy! Those troublesome what ifs! For me, it’s fear of people not enjoying my forthcoming novel and fear of sharing so much about my personal life and past experiences. But I know that no matter the outcome, I will never regret my decision to do this.

    Thanks for this, V!

    1. Jody, I’m sure the novel will do great and this will be an exciting first publishing experiencing. I’m sure all famous authors and artist felt the same way when releasing their first work:)

      As one of my readers mentioned above, this is a situation where not releasing the novel will be a lot scarier than releasing it. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the novel and I know I’ll enjoy it!!

  11. Vishnu,

    I love the idea of reflecting on past successes to help us move through current fears. At the same time, I know that fear can be deeply inplanted in the route of our brain and our subtle body as well. I go slowly with fear and that is my secret to conquering it “fast”. Glad you’re travels have gone so well!

    1. Thanks Sandra – while usually not a good idea to reflect on the past:) I say we take the positive past achievements to help bolster our current fears. It’s a technique that has worked for me anyway. I like your going slow idea to conquering fear – that’s one quick way to overcome fear:)

  12. Hi Vishnu, I guess I just have faith that *I* will figure it out and come through it OK, like I always have done, one way or the other 🙂 Age and experience helps. If you’re not dead yet, then walking through the fear makes it an adventure!

    1. Having confidence in your ability to conquer fear is great Julie! Yes, I bet age and experience help – I guess the older we grow, the more experiences of fear-conquering we’ll have under our belt. Overcoming fear as an adventure:) – I think the roller coaster amusement parks would agree 🙂

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