Overview

"Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once." -William Shakespeare

Today I was thinking about the most dangerous enemies of progress, and things that halt all kinds of success. One thing that came to mind was fear. I wanted to write this because as an entrepreneur, we have to deal with unknown fears every day. That's just what we do.

Like most anything worthwhile, learning how to overcome a fear is a process of consistency and continued effort to push past your old self and become "one percent" better everyday. With the right strategy, any fear can be overcome. Including the most debilitating fear: the fear of succeeding.

Now, fear comes in many forms: fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of the dentist. However, as broad as the topic of fear is, here is a list of tips that can be implemented to assist in overcoming any fear. I encourage everyone to take these tips, and put them into action in order to achieve your goals.

Brief Summary

Here's a brief summary of what we'll cover in this post:

  • Realize the purpose of fear
  • Take time out temporarily to distract yourself from the fear
  • Breathe correctly
  • Imagine the worst possible outcome
  • Challenge fearful thoughts
  • Take it one day at a time
  • Visualize a happy place
  • Practice gratitude
  • Get in touch with values
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Make fear useful

How to Overcome a Fear

As the old saying goes, "To deal with a problem, you must first know the problem." The same goes for facing a fear. With this in mind, we need to understand what exactly fear is. And the answer might shock you:

Fear is a feeling.

That's it. Fear is only but a feeling. A very powerful one none-the-less. Thus, the feeling of fear has no power to make us do anything. Let me repeat that. Fear has no power to make us do anything. What we do, and how we respond to fear is completely our choice.

Furthermore, a fear can be dealt with like any other feeling that we want to change. Facing a fear is a skill that can be learned.

Here at BizGrips we strive to provide practical knowledge for entrepreneurial development in easy to understand ways. I truly believe that great businesses are built by exceptional individuals, and that working for yourself is the secret to not only financial freedom, but time freedom as well. Starting this is easier than most people realize. If this interests you, check out this FREE PDF here and have your eyes open to the possibilities out there, and how to get started.

Realize the Purpose of Fear

"It is not fear that holds people back-- it is their attitude towards it that keeps them stuck" -Russ Harris

The first step when it comes to how to overcome any fear is to realize the purpose of that fear. You see, fear, as much as we hate to admit it, oftentimes serves a great purpose.

This took me a long time to understand. With all the motivational speeches out there, and all the self-help gurus saying the opposite, it's hard to realize the positive side of fear. When it comes to facing a fear of my own I have realized the first thing I need to stop an think is, "Why does my subconcious mind

Before I continue, I'd just like to take a moment and give a shout out to the book where I had the opportunity to learn a lot of this stuff from. A lot of the content in this post comes from a book called The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris. He goes far more into depth into the psychology of fear, as well as studied and proven methods to deal with and tame fear.

A Life With No Fear

At the end of the day, fear serves one necessary purpose: to keep you safe. Indeed, no one likes negative feelings. Fear is a trick the subconscious mind uses to do it's best to keep the body from doing what it believes will lead to pain and suffering.

What's the catch-22 here? The subconscious mind only sees the imminent future. Oftentimes pain and suffering is required to get to a better place. And this is why it is important to be able to overcome fear if you so choose.

Take Time Out

Once you have taken the time to understand the purpose of the specific fear you are trying to defeat you need to take a moment to clear your head. The next step to facing a fear is distracting yourself from it for a short time.

Thus, do something that will temporarily get your mind of whatever fear is inhibiting you. Some great ways to do this are the small things in life we do on a daily basis:

  • Drink coffee (My favorite)
  • Go for a walk
  • Exercise (This is a fantastic way to reduce stress as well)
  • Laugh
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Listen to your favorite music

Why are these great things to do to temporarily distract yourself? Well, for one they are simple, and most of them can be done at any time of the day (probably best not to drink coffee in the wee hours of the night). Furthermore, these are all activities that won't distract you for too long.

Yes, unfortunately to overcome a fear, the fear must be confronted. This means never dealing with it, and pretending it doesn't exist, or that it is not inhibiting you from something you truly want is a sure-fire way of never overcoming that fear.

Breathe Correctly When Facing a Fear

To continue our voyage in learning how to overcome a fear, let's take a moment to slow down, and breathe correctly. As overrated as breathing posture may sound, I cannot express how important this is, and how effective this has been for me facing my fear.

The best way I have found how to breathe when combatting fear is to breath from your belly. To do this, simply place one hand on your chest, and the other on your belly. Take in a deep breath letting your belly push out, while keeping your chest from moving.

At the top of your breath, stop and feel the pressure and tenseness you feel. Consider this your "armor". This is the armor you will need to confront the fear.

Overcoming Fear by Imagine the Worst

“...maybe sometimes it's riskier not to take a risk. Sometimes all you're guaranteeing is that things will stay the same.” -Danny Wallace, Yes Man

Oftentimes, I think people do not understand the power of imagining the worst thing that can happen. When it comes to how to overcome a fear, imagining the worst possible outcomes is exceptionally powerful. Why? Simply put, because more-often-than-not the worst really isn't that bad.

Certainly, there are certain things to be rightfully afraid of that might be life-threatening, but at the end of the day the most common fear is the fear of failing. Maybe they are scared to talk to that special someone? Or afraid to start a business? Or afraid to make a phone call? But when these fears are dissected, it's easy to see the fear only lies in the fear of not getting the expected outcome... The fear of failing.

Well let me tell you, failure is a powerful driving force to success, innovation, personal development, and positive change. The feeling of failure sucks. When we fail, we realize that we do not want to make the same mistake twice, so we learn. We learn the correct way to do the thing we failed at.

You can only truly fail when you give up. To conquer a fear is by nature taking risk. To risk the possibility of the negative outcome. But to not take risk is to not grow. A stagnant life is no life at all.

Challenge Fearful Thoughts

Facing a fear is based on challenging what you feel. Furthermore knowing how to overcome a fear comes with knowing how to convince your feelings of the truth.

How to overcome a fear - eagle

To challenge fearful thoughts we first had to imagine the worst possible outcome. Once we've done this we can see how probable that thought is. With a clear image of the worst, we can test that idea against the truth, and see how grounded in reality the fear really is.

For this reason, ask questions that maintain objectivity and common sense. Is this outcome realistic? What is the likelihood of this happening? Questions like these wrangle our wandering minds back towards reality.

Personally, I know I have had some silly fears. That when challenged I can see how unrealistic it is for the outcome I'm afraid of to pass.

Overcoming Fear One Day at a Time

"Don't look too far into the future, just look at tomorrow. One day at a time. Can you win tomorrow? Can you make progress? The answer is yes, you have a choice and tomorrow you're going to win." -Joe Wick

Thinking about things only with a long-term view is a dangerous game. Especially when it comes to overcoming a fear. Yes, having a long-term vision is good, but everything must be taken one day at a time.

When things are seen in one day increments, success seems possible. On the contrary, when only the end goal is seen, success seems to be an unreachable feat.

When it comes to facing a fear, it's actually a lot like excellent goal planning. Where in goal planning the objective is to break down larger goals into smaller goals, and in overcoming fear the objective is to break down the overreaching fear into smaller fears.

These smaller fears can then be turned into daily objectives to conquer. Therefore, you can win one day, then the next, and before you know it you will have made a habit of slowly but surely overcoming the overreaching fear. Then one day, the giant fear will cease to exist.

Exposure Therapy

The phycology land, there is a common practice to overcome fears called exposure therapy. Put simply, the goal of exposure therapy is to slowly increase the amount of exposure you have to your fear.

This video here is focusing on social anxiety, which is a very common fear. However, the stuff he is talking about is all about exposure therapy. It's an excellent explanation of what exposure therapy is, how to do it, and the benefits seen from it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnVIUOiqvmc

In Vivo Exposure

This is a fancy term that essentially means direct confrontation with a fear. For instance, say you are terrified of spiders. In Vivo exposure would be forcing yourself to be around spiders and directly confront your fear.

This is a challenging way to overcome a fear, yet has been proven to be very successful. The more we are forced to deal with our fears, the better we come at handling them.

Imaginal Exposure

This is exactly as it sounds. Imaginal exposure is exposing oneself to the fear by using vivid imagination. Oftentimes this is used in overcoming trauma.

The idea here is to vividly imagine events that triggered the specific fear. Over time typically after getting comfortable with the imagination of the fear, the person would move onto another type of exposure therapy.

Graded Exposure

Using graded exposure is a fantastic technique on how to overcome a fear. When it comes to facing a fear it's best to dissect the fear and break it into smaller fears; graded exposure is exactly that.

The idea behind graded exposure revolves around the fear hierarchy, where at the top of the hierarchy lies the overreaching fear, and going down the hierarchy are all the bits and parts of that overreaching fear.

Over time, fears are conquered starting at the bottom of the hierarchy working to the top. A great example of this for a person afraid of spiders:

  1. Person afraid of spiders has to think of spiders (thinking of spiders = bottom of hierarchy)
  2. Next, the person afraid of spiders has to just be in a room with a spider
  3. Then, the person afraid of spiders must handle a spider (handling a spider = top of hierarchy)

Each fear in the fear hierarchy is conquered before moving up the hierarchy.

Overcoming a Fear by Visualize Happy Place

Visualization is a powerful technique that has been used by athletes, entrepreneurs, soldiers and visionaries. It allows better mind-body connection and the ability to preplan actions you will take in the event that what you visualized occurred.

When it comes to facing a fear, visualization allows you to not only stay grounded with reality, but to have a clear picture of what exactly this fear is preventing you from doing.

With that said, there are two important types of visualization I'd like to stress. One, visualize what you will do in the event that what you most fear comes to pass. Imagine in detail how it will feel, sound, taste, smell, and how you will react. Envision how you will respond amongst the negative emotions you will geel.

And, two visualize the place you want to get to, and see how this fear is preventing you from getting there. Have a clear "why" behind your goal. Get attached to it. And understand how much you want it, and why it is far better to be there than where you are.

Practice Gratitude When Facing a Fear

Gratitude? Yep! How does this relate to how to overcome a fear? Well, I am a huge advocate for the overall power of a constant state of gratitude and how it can help most situations for one reason:

Gratitude keeps you grounded

Gratitude reminds you of exactly where you are, and as much as it pains us to admit, we are not at the top. We don't know everything, and we have so much to learn. And that's ok, because amidst our shortcomings, we still have far more than we "deserve".

“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When it comes to overcoming a fear, gratitude allows us to be honest with why we are afraid. Typically, we are afraid of things we have little experience with. Realizing this allows honest perspective of self, which in turn allows actionable things to be done.

Get in Touch With Values

When it comes to facing a fear, being able to be in touch with your values will ensure you stay on the right path. Muhammad Ali once said, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

You see, values are like a compass. No matter how foggy, frightening, or confusing things get, as long as you make choices based on your values, you are going to continue to head in the right direction that you wish to go.

Furthermore, values can give you a sense of fulfilment even while you are afraid.  How? Well, because when all else goes south, you can take satisfaction knowing that you did not compromise on your values, and you stayed true to them.

Practice Mindfulness

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have.”  -Eckhart Tolle

Mindfulness is the art of being aware of everything around you, yet doing so without a lens of judgement about the situation. When it comes to how to overcome a fear, this is vastly important.

Pretending the fear isn't there is the worst thing to do, because the fear is there and your whole body knows it. The true secret to facing a fear is full realization and acceptance of its existence.

When we step back and are mindful about the present situation it allows us clear judgement on the path we should take. And that path is the path that follows our values.

Grow the "Mindfulness muscle"

Becoming more mindful is easier than it sounds, and the great thing is it can be done almost anywhere. In his book, The Confidence Gap, Russ Harris talks about mindfulness a lot, and how to practice it.

For the sake of conciseness I'm not going to go into depth here in this article, if you wish to learn more about this I highly recommend you check out his book.

In a nutshell, mindfulness is being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment without interpretation or judgement. Here is a simple exercise to practice this:

Next time doing any chore (laundry, dishes, brushing teeth, etc...) focus on every sense as if you were studying the action.

Notice all the different sounds entering your ears. Pay attention to how the light reflects off of the different objects in different, unique ways. Take in the various smells and observe how they effect your nose.

Do all of this acting as if you were studying the action being performed. For the short duration of the chore, pretend as if you were a scientist about to write a study on exactly what you are doing.

Mindfulness in Practice

The next time you encounter any uncomfortable situation, stop and put back on the scientist hat for a moment. Observe the situation, what you are feeling, and your position in space and time at the given moment. When it comes to facing a fear be mindful of what it is:

Fear is nothing more than a feeling

Then, take your actions based on your values.

Make Fear Useful

"Fear is not your enemy. It is a powerful source of energy that can be harnessed and used for your benefit." -Russ Harris, The Confidence Gap

I had to put that quote in there... That is one profound realization of Russ Harris right there.

Imagine this scenario:

You and a close friend are out for a hike and he falls into a rushing river. He can't swim very well, and he's on the verge of drowning. You are still beside the river, but you are terrified. You can swim, but not in water like this. It's too fast. It's too violent. But no one else is around. Without your help your friend will drown.

Most everyone has heard of the "Fight or Flight" response. It's a profound mechanism for survival, that only happens when we are afraid. When we are terrified, our bodies give us a potent dose of adrenaline to either fight back, or run away.

When this "Fight or Flight" response is blended with our values, fear becomes a powerful force. This is the exact thing that you need to save your friend from drowning.

You see, fear gives your body heightened focus, senses, and physical ability. This ability, however, is like a roaring fire, and if not tamed will take over your judgement and perception of reality. When tamed however, is one of your greatest allies against overcoming a fear.

What Fear Means

Furthermore, to add onto the usefulness of fear, realize that fear is oftentimes a sign that something needs to be done.

Think about this for a second. We rarely fear things that mean absolutely nothing (Yes even the "silly" fears have meaning). Your mind thinks the feared thing will cause you physical harm, stress, or suffering. Is that meaningless? Absolutely not.

So, with all that being said, feel the fear and do the thing anyways. Take note of the goal fear is preventing you from achieving, and go ahead and take action on that goal.

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How to Deal With the Fear of Succeeding

Let me share with you this short poem:

Our Greatest Fear —Marianne Williamson

it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson

I believe that one of the most debilitating types of fear is the fear of succeeding. The fear to succeed is one of the most challenging types of fear to face. Why? Because much of the common "fear fighting" tactics don't seem to work so well... It sucks.

To achieve your goal means your fear will come to be true... Almost. For this reason, I wanted to add this specific fear, the fear to succeed, in this article. It goes beyond the typical means used to overcome a fear, and requires an extra level of strategy to defeat.

What is The Fear of Succeeding

The fear of succeeding is exactly what it sounds. It is the fear to succeed, fear to change, and fear of achievement. Oftentimes, this fear is driven by a few fundamental ideas (which we'll talk about in a bit) that mostly revolve around a low self-image.

Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage is the #1 symptom of fear of success. It's almost as if the subconscious is battling the conscious mind.

When someone has the fear to success, oftentimes without even realizing it they end up sabotaging themselves, so that they cannot succeed. The crazy thing about this, is there is a part of you that is SO confident in your ability to succeed that it has to sabotage your abilities because it is afraid of that success.

Symptoms of The Fear to Succeed

Being able to "diagnose" the fear to succeed isn't as obvious as it may sound. Actually, the best ways to diagnose it is by finding other pitfalls you struggle with:

  • Do you have a lack of goals recently?
  • Have you been procrastinating a lot?
  • Are you placing unnecessary obstacles in your way?

These are all symptoms of being afraid to succeed.

Causes For The Fear of Succeeding

It seems as though a lot of the causes for the fear of succeeding are correlated to shyness. Growing up I was a VERY shy kid.

It took my a long time to realize what shyness actually was. It was hard for me to wrestle with the idea that shyness is actually a form of selfishness. Why? Because it's all about you, and how others will perceive you. Now, that was a tough pill for me to swallow.

I think it's the same when it comes to the fear of succeeding. In the poem I shared earlier, it illuminates how success actually intimidates others. When we succeed, oftentimes we find two people in our lives:

  1. The ones that actually are happy for us and support us
  2. The ones that are jealous and secretly wish for our demise

Succeeding at things welcomes both camps of people, and both camps of people will inevitably come to the party. Knowing this, is the first key to understanding the fear to succeed.

Being Afraid of The Spotlight

What's wrong with being in the spotlight other than just all the attention? Well, the higher you climb, the further you can fall, and the more people there are to witness it.

As an entrepreneur failure is inevitable. Failure is a step taken to get to success, so it's important to have the right relationship with failure.

At BizGrips we believe entrepreneurship is the ticket to financial freedom, time freedom, and meaningful purposeful, work. Starting the journey of entrepreneurship is both exciting (thinking of the possibilities), yet also terrifying imagining what happens if you fail, especially once everyone has seen you take the leap out of the ordinary 9-5 job. If entrepreneurship is something you wish to start, well click here and get this free training to get you going.

Feelings of Growing Complexity

Being overwhelmed of the idea of the growing complexity is an understandable reason to have the fear of succeeding. Only if you look at the big picture though.

As we go forward in life, we learn things that we previously didn't know. The day we stop learning is the day we die. now, if you turned to your younger self as a 5 year old and told him/her what you do on a weekly basis (feed yourself, go to work, drive a car, manage money) he/she would be completely overwhelmed. Why? Cause that would be going from zero to one in a blink.

The same goes for success that we fear in our lives today. The idea of hiring an employee, or doing accounting for your business might seem completely overwhelming to you today. That's completely fair! But getting to that point happens one day at a time. Which by the way, that's the whole point of BizGrips here, to give small tidbits of information that incrementally lead to business and entrepreneurial success.

Leaving People Behind

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.” -C.S. Lewis

Want to know what separates a good business from a great one? Simply put, a great business carries other people forward. When the business succeeds, it helps others do the same.

Many times when I have struggled with the fear to succeed it was because I was afraid of leaving others behind, and thinking to myself, "Who am I to leave all these people behind." But then I realized how short-cited I was for seeing success as that.

To be successful doesn't mean leaving people behind, being successful only greatens your ability to help others. And this is what we do as entrepreneurs, we understand that our success means having a greater ability to help those around us.

Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever felt as though you are a fraud, and you have no clue what you are doing. You're not alone! Imposter syndrome is very common. Imposter syndrome leads to having a fear of succeeding because success means only a greater chance others will find out you don't belong.

Do I have news for you! If you have found success, then you belong there. Success is not about knowing everything, or having all the perfect things to say, or having it all together. Success is what happens when you follow your values, consistently, over a long period of time, and doing what is right.

So, how do you combat this? Regardless of what you think you know or don't know, stop comparing yourself to others, and provide exceptional value to those you serve.

In doing this, you have done two things:

  1. Removed the standard for what you think people in your position should know
  2. Displayed that regardless of what you think you place is, you've already met the criteria needed in your current position.

Fear of Backlash

The fear of succeeding is often due to the fear of backlash. Being afraid of a large adverse reaction by a large number of people, is most certainly a reasonable fear. Regardless, it needs to be put to death.

There are three main things that seem to treat this "fear of backlash":

  • Treat everything as an experiment
  • Don't be a people pleaser (except there will always be those that disagree with you)
  • Stay in touch with you values (remember, your values are a compass).

Poor Self-Efficacy

"In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life." -Albert Bandura

Self-efficacy is the belief in your own abilities. More-often-than-not when it comes to facing a fear in general, and especially when it comes to the fear of succeeding, the lack of self-efficacy is clearly present.

When a person believes in their own abilities, it's not believing that they know everything, rather it's believing that regardless of what comes their way they can figure out how to deal with it.

Not only does having self-efficacy lead to overcoming the fear of succeeding, it also leads to the following:

  • Stronger interest in activities
  • Ability to quickly recover from setbacks
  • Drive to go after more goals
Growing "Self-Efficacy Muscle"

Self-efficacy is developed mainly by slowly increasing the amount of, and the complexity of the tasks and goals you accomplish. For instance, say you have no idea on how to edit videos. A decent goal would be to learn how to edit videos.

When you finally have mastered video editing and released an exceptional video the self-doubt you once had will be that much more squashed. Because right in front of you lies evidence of your ability to learn, on your own, and to accomplish something you once thought to be impossible.

Conclusion

Here's a quick summary to quickly recap what we covered in this article about overcoming a fear and facing a fear, especially the fear of succeeding:

  1. Realize the purpose of fear
  • Fear exists in attempt to protect us from physical harm, or stress.
  1. Take time out temporarily to distract yourself from the fear
  • Distract yourself for 15-30 minutes to clear your head and begin to think logically
  1. Breathe correctly
  • Perform the mystical belly breathing technique
  1. Imagine the worst possible outcome
  • Imagine the worst that can happen. You'll realize giving up and regret is the worst that can happen.
  1. Challenge fearful thoughts
  • Ask questions about the fear that maintain objectivity and commonsense
  1. Take it one day at a time
  • Tackle bits of the fear each day
  1. Visualize a happy place
  • Vividly imagine how you will react in the given situation
  1. Practice gratitude
  • Gratitude keeps you grounded
  1. Get in touch with values
  • Values act like a compass to guide you through the hard times
  1. Practice mindfulness
  • Mindfulness allows you to take correct actions based on values rather than feelings
  1. Make fear useful
  • The correct relationship with fear allows you to tame the fear and let your values guide it.

Remember, overcoming any fear is no overnight process, but with diligence, and a value-guided mind it can be achieved.

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Catch you on the flip,

-Noah

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