Overcome Your Fears in Five Easy Steps

16 Oct

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?


Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Idaho


12 responses to “Overcome Your Fears in Five Easy Steps

  1. Liz Flaherty

    October 16, 2012 at 4:46 AM

    Excellent post–and my apologies if this appears twice. WordPress and I have a love-hate relationship!

  2. Stephanie Berget

    October 16, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    Thank you, Liz. Pretty much all technology and I have a love-hate relationship.

  3. Janis McCurry

    October 16, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    That I’ll die alone and no one will check and the cat will eat my face off.

  4. Stephanie Berget

    October 16, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    That, too. I see you’re a fragile flyer like me. 😉

  5. maryvine

    October 16, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    I fear having an MRI. I’m thankful I haven’t had one yet. The closed in part freaks me out. Thanks for the tips, Steph.

    • Stephanie Berget

      October 16, 2012 at 4:51 PM

      Here’s hoping you never need one, but if you do, I’d love to hear the story. I’m trying the story the next time I fly.

  6. Peggy Staggs

    October 16, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    Most of the things that scare me are things I can’t control. So I’ll go with, that I’ll do a bad job. Reason I show up 1/2 an hour early for work and do more than I’m asked. Sigh…

    • Stephanie Berget

      October 16, 2012 at 7:37 PM

      Peggy, I’ve been having dreams about not doing a job right, so I know what you’re talking about.

  7. Judith Keim

    October 16, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Love your comments about the synopsis – grrr, can’t do them well–and spiders. LOL We sprayed for spiders but hearing about wolf spiders staring at you sends my whole body quivering. If you can be in a barrel race you can do anything!!!

    • Stephanie Berget

      October 16, 2012 at 7:39 PM

      The synopsis is a particular fear of mine. I’d rather run barrels than write a synopsis. Spiders and I get along pretty well, but we’ve had a bunch of black widows this fall. Those I can do without.

  8. Liz Fredericks

    October 18, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    Ok . . . I’m with you on the synopsis! I’ve also a fear of being late (so I’m clearly facing that fear with this late comment on your post). Strange thing is . . . for years I’ve been terrified of flying, heights, and auto travel – absolutely terrified . . . but I’ve cut out a lot of stress in the last two years and have recently flown without a whimper and traveled up a steep mountain road pulling a horse trailer with only a couple of jitters. Sometimes stress or fear in parts of our lives (especially those we don’t admit to) show up as fear in other areas. I think this is useful as a plot device.

  9. Stephanie Berget

    October 18, 2012 at 9:16 PM

    I agree, I’m much more worried about everything when I’m stressed. The late thing is a worry of mine. I’d always been late until I figured out to get ready an hour early. Took me years to figure out that little gem. Thanks for the comment.


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