There are few things in this world more powerful than fear. Depending on the situation, it can motivate us to reach new heights or overwhelm us into hiding. Fear is a natural part of life — everyone faces it — but it can hold us back, especially in our personal and professional lives.
While you may never fully conquer all of your fears, you can work on strategies to both recognize and overcome them. Doing so can help you make positive changes and improve your life.
Here's how you can start overcoming your fears.
Common fears that can hold you back
While everyone's fears are different, there are some common ones that many people share:
- Uncertainty: Some people love waking up every day not knowing what will happen. But for many individuals, uncertainty is a scary prospect. The fear of not knowing what's to come can prevent you from trying new things.
- Change: Change often represents the unknown, and while some changes — a new career or promotion — are great, not knowing how that change will impact your life or career can be scary.
- Rejection: This fear holds a lot of people back from trying new things. Rejection is a part of life, but if you let that fear prevent you from applying for new jobs or even going on a date, you could miss out on something great.
- Failure: No one likes to fail. The thought of failing — from a test during our school days to starting a business — puts people off from trying anything that doesn't offer guaranteed success. But remember, you can learn a lot from your mistakes.
- Judgment: Another common fear, especially at work, is that of being judged. Everyone wants to be liked, but sometimes people act a different way because they are afraid others will judge their personality.
How to start overcoming your fears
While very few people ever live a life without fear, it's really important to develop a few strategies to help deal with fear when you feel it and not let it overwhelm your life.
Why is this important?
To start, identifying fear helps get it out in the open. For many people, when something scares them, their first thought is to ignore or avoid it. While that may feel better in the immediate short term, you're much better off recognizing and naming your fears — then you can develop a plan to attack them.
Here are some strategies you can use to help you face your fears:
- Assess your personality. People both face and deal with fears differently. It's all based on our individual personalities and life experiences. Gaining insight into your personality can help you figure out the best way to tackle your fears.
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Something else to consider is your strengths and weaknesses. Focusing on these can help you develop strategies where you can lean on your strengths to fight fear while working on improving your areas of opportunity for growth.
- Build your emotional intelligence. We focus a lot on IQ, but your emotional intelligence is just as important. When you can understand both your own emotions and those of others, it can help you identify fears before they overwhelm you and recognize when others are being driven by fear.
- Embrace listening and learning. More often than not, the more you learn about something, the less scary it becomes. So make a practice to speak with others about fears and listen to what they have to say. Learning from others is also a great way to build a support network.
Working on yourself isn't always an easy process, but it's one that can pay off over time. The more you recognize your fears and understand what's driving them, the better. That way, you can develop a plan to face your fears head-on.
Overcoming fears and tackling obstacles can open doors for you personally and professionally. Want to learn more about changing the way you think at work? Check out these 10 books.