One of the things I'm learning to appreciate is that you can't really grow without challenging yourself and going outside your comfort zone.
But with that often comes doubts, insecurities, and fears. The biggest of which is often the fear of failure.
Repeat after me:
There is nothing to be afraid of.
Remember... failure isn't final.
Fear of failing is one of my biggest limiters. I have to constantly remind myself though that failure is never final. We must never let failure get to our hearts (see Meredith Kessler's take on this). We can use it to help us grow and move forward, but we can't let this fear paralyze us to inaction. This also reminds us that we must have patience in our journey. We may fail once, twice, maybe more before we succeed. Having the patience to continue to pursue growth and to continue on when the reward seems so far off are important ways to fight your fears.
Believe in yourself.
Your belief in yourself is one of the most powerful tools you have in your arsenal against fear. Remind yourself that you are capable of overcoming that fear, because you have overcome fears before. It also helps if you surround yourself with people who believe in you and who support your goals and dreams. Those people can be a source of strength and encouragement when you need a reminder to believe in yourself.
You can overcome any fear with two seconds of courage.
Often our fears are irrational and based on emotion versus the actuality of the thing that we are afraid of doing. On Sunday, I was afraid of skiing down a hill. It wasn't a big hill, but I also couldn't see the bottom. My emotions took over and I decided I was afraid of the hill. But, with a little encouragement and two seconds of courage, I made the decision to just let go and ski. Before I knew it, I was at the bottom, safe and sound. And oh my goodness, I actually had fun on the way down!
When you face your fears head on, your self-respect and self-esteem will grow. You will have a sense of pride in overcoming that fear. One strategy is to just, "act unafraid." Visualize yourself as strong and confidently facing your fear head on, as someone who is not afraid at all. Then summon that courage and go for it. Whether that means skiing down that hill or having a conversation you've been avoiding.
Reframe to focus on the positive.
Sometimes we can conquer our fears by reframing them in a positive light. By seeing fears as opportunities for growth and courage, by focusing on the benefits of conquering those fears, we can work toward overcoming them. Instead of saying, "I can't because I am afraid," say, "I have an opportunity for growth."
It can be hard to remember at first though that the benefits of going outside your comfort zone or fighting your fears will outweigh the challenge and that the struggles you face along the way will teach you things. Sometimes it feels like the struggle will never end and the negative talk takes over. That is when you have to dig deep and fight the negative talk by reframing the fear or situation in a positive light.
This is what I started doing with my cycling last summer. I put a smile on my face and focused on all the wonderful things about cycling, then I just went out and rode my bike until my fears started to disappear. I let myself fly down hills and cherished the burn in my legs as I climbed back up to the top. My breakthrough was in Arizona at Christmas, where I actually loved every single second of my ride... all alone.. down a mountain in an unknown place.
These are certainly things that I struggle with in all areas of my life, not just in my athletics. I feel myself fighting growth and change, and wanting to stay in the comfort of what I already know. But I also want to experience and learn new things, grow in my relationships with other people, and challenge my own beliefs. So I will keep going, keep fighting my fears, keep choosing positivity over negativity, keep believing in myself...
How do you face your fears? What strategies do you employ to deal with challenging situations?