Written by Michelle Armstrong, certified personal trainer, bestselling author, and mindset expert. Model : Simone Sinclaire
Let’s face it: even the toughest people get scared now and then.
But whether fear pops up when you’re about to ask for a promotion or attempt a new squat PR, it shouldn’t hold you back from going after your goals. Fear is a mental construct; unless we’re being attacked by a bear, fear has no basis or value in our lives.
In true environments of threat, the presence of fear is purposeful, as it activates the fight or flight response needed for our survival. However, when fears are stemming from our internal perception and no true threat exists, then we’re really only responding to an illusion that we have manufactured. So the next time fear is standing in your way, be prepared with a plan to combat it. Here are four steps you can start taking today to obliterate your fears and reclaim your power. Think of these exercises as a circuit workout for your mind, which over time, will override limiting patterns in the brain that trigger unnecessary fear.
Flow through the following steps each time fear arises in your life.
Step 1: Acknowledge Your Fear
The first thing most people do when fear arises is to try to block and resist it. They don’t like the physical feelings fear brings to their body or the thoughts it triggers in their minds. But resisting fear only ends up amplifying it, and disempowers your ability to do anything about it. It is better to acknowledge your fear, so you can manage it.
Exercise: To acknowledge your fear, perform the following mental exercise. Do 20 reps. Take a long, slow and deep breath between each rep then move immediately to Exercise 2.
Say to yourself in your mind (or out loud if possible), “I acknowledge I am feeling fear at this moment about [insert the trigger of your fear] and even though I feel this fear I acknowledge that in this moment I am safe, protected, and all is well.”
Step 2: Get an Accurate Perception
Most of our fears are based on our own internal perceptions—the way in which we perceive a situation in our mind’s eye is what triggers our fear-based thoughts, which triggers our fearful feelings, and vice versa. It’s important to realize that what’s happening in reality is often a stark contrast to what’s playing on the screen of our minds, and that your body doesn’t know the difference—it will react regardless of whether the fear is real or simply perceived. Once we are experiencing fear, we start having irrational thoughts. What if this happens? What if that happens? As we continue to think more fear-based thoughts we, in turn, feel more fear in our bodies. However, the good news is we can put an end to our fear by changing our perceptions of our experiences:
To change your perception in any given situation, perform the following exercise for a full 2 minutes.
Exercise: Get present in your environment and assess what is actually happening around you. For instance, if you’re standing backstage before a fitness competition and the thought of “what if I fall flat on my face on stage?”, pops into your head accompanied by the image of you falling flat on your face in your mind, then stop giving that internal world your attention and immediately focus on what is actually happening in your physical reality. For instance, if you’re standing to the side of the stage waiting for your name and number to be called, acknowledge that this is what’s happening in the moment and focus your mental and emotional attention on it instead. You can even talk it through in your mind: “I am standing at the side of the stage, and all is well.”
Step 3: Visualize the Desired Outcome
The third and final exercise in the circuit is to create in your mind the mental picture of what you want to experience. You’ve acknowledged your fear and accurately gathered the facts about what is true versus perceived, so now you can enjoy a new experience by mentally creating one. You do this by creating a new mental picture or mini movie clip in your mind of what you do want to experience, like walking on to the stage and performing brilliantly, with ease and grace. By creating this new and empowering mental picture, your brain will automatically respond by sending out positive thoughts and feelings to your body. As you repeat this mental exercise you are literally creating new neurological pathways in the brain where fear no longer exists.
Exercise: Decide what you want the outcome to be in any situation and then play it out in your mind. Begin by envisioning a blank white screen. Next, bring up the picture or the mini movie clip. Watch the visual for 3-5 seconds and then go back to the white screen. Wait 2-3 seconds, then repeat. Perform 20 reps.
Step 4: Act Despite the Fear
Now that you’re acknowledging your fears instead of resisting them, you’ve gained a brand new perception of the situations that trigger your fears, and you’re creating new mental pictures that match what you want to experience. The next most powerful thing you can do is to take action in the face of your fears. When you act anyway, this also reinforces new neurological pathways in your brain that diminish (if not eliminate completely) your fears over time. Fear can’t control you anymore. It is you who holds the power.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle Armstrong is a bestselling author, certified personal trainer, mindset expert and soul coach. www.MichelleArmstrong.com
Twitter: @michellearmst | Instagram: @michellearmst | Facebook: michellearmst