I’m all for finding ways to conquer my fear of public speaking or competing, so when I came across an article on a news site the other day about controlling fear, it caught my interest. It said, “The secret to control isn’t fearlessness but admitting to what scares you”. I’ve used a couple of these concepts preparing to compete at barrel races, but several are new to me.
The idea is to push yourself past your comfort zone, then when you’re in a panic, pick one or more of these tricks to regain control.
1. Try telling yourself a story
When you’re attempting something that has your heart racing, try talking about it unemotionally, as if you were describing an everyday event. “The plane is taking off. The girl’s seat belt is fastened. She’s holding a book.” They must have watched me whenever I fly. The next sentence would be, “Her hands are shaking. She drops the book. She wants off the plane.” I haven’t tried this yet but will in a couple of weeks, and I’ll let you know how it works.
2. Clench & Release
Almost sounds dirty, doesn’t it. It’s progressive muscle relaxation, and doing it calms the body. Start with your feet, tightening then relaxing the muscles then gradually move up your body, finishing with your eyes. Relaxed muscles ease your mind. This one I can recommend as I’ve used it a lot. Remember, don’t do this while driving.
3. Breathe From Your Belly
Diaphragmatic breathing is easy, and also a nice way to relax when you can’t sleep. Inhale slowly from your lower belly to a count of four, hold for four counts then slowly exhale to a count of four. Repeat. This exercise takes you out of your head and into your body, distracting you from your thoughts. This works. I’ve used it many times. The key word here is slowly, or you’ll hyperventilate, and that doesn’t help anything.
4. Admit Your Fear Out Loud
I was going to say I’ve never tried this, but ask anyone who’s ever flown with me. Simply voicing how scared you are taps into the more rational, less emotional part of your brain. When subjects described their feelings out loud after being shown scary images, activity in the logical parts of their brain increased, and they felt calmer. Plus if you tell them, your friends can talk you down.
5. Transform Your Terminology and Your P.O.V.
Ah, P.O.V. changes; this should be a piece of cake for the writers on this blog. Think of what scares you as an exciting challenge rather than something you dread. A first date could be an opportunity for love. A 5K is a chance to show off how hard you’ve trained, or a synopsis could be an opportunity to fine tune your writing abilities. (It could happen). Then enjoy a celebratory glass of wine afterward—or three if it’s the synopsis!
The only thing you have to fear is fear itself….and spiders.
What makes you most afraid? Do you have any other ideas for conquering your fears?