*Spoiler alert: HELL NO! I didn't let fear stop me and it turned out to be the best year of my life.
As you've undoubtedly learned by now, fear is an inevitable part of life. Some people are completely disabled by fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of...whatever. Fear can be crippling or it can be empowering if you can learn how to work with it. In my year of traveling I was forced into many situations where there was no other option but to face fear. What seemed terrifying at the start has provided me with a tried and tested method for dealing with fear that anyone can use:
Step 1: Accept fear as normal
When it comes to dealing with fear, the first, and often biggest obstacle is embracing that fear. It can be difficult to accept fear but it is an essential first step. Understand that it is normal to feel fear. Its instinctual. You can't eliminate fear from your life but you can learn to live WITH fear and how to use it to your advantage.
Step 2: Adjust your posture
Biologically, body language has a big influence on your confidence. Confidence, which happens to be linked directly into your nervous system, also plays a large roll in overcoming fear. Don't underestimate yourself. If you believe you can conquer your fear, you can. Even if your not feeling your most confident; when you stand up straight, broaden your stance, and hold your head high your nervous system tricks your brain into thinking confident thoughts. Confident posture (body language, eye contact, deep/slow breathing, speaking slowly) turns into heightened levels of confidence.
Step 3: Put yourself in a position to conquer your fear
Confronting your fears can actually relieve discomfort that fear had previously caused. Write down what you fear and visualize yourself successfully overcoming that fear. Picture things going well and agree in advance to move forward by any means once you are face to face with the situation. By doing this you are increasing your chance for success. Next is to set up a reward for yourself.
Step 4: Reinforce the positive
Just like Ivan Pavlov and his slobbering dog taught us, rewarding positive behavior will condition you to better handle similar situations in the future. Set up your reward in advance if possible. When you reward yourself for facing a fear, you are teaching your subconscious that facing that fear is beneficial. Later, write down your success from the experience. Reflecting on what went right allows us to duplicate success next time.
Step 5: Support system
You're never alone. Reach out if necessary because encouragement can play a crucial role in dealing with fear. Associate yourself with confident people. People that want to help you grow and rally behind your attempt to better yourself.
Now the hard part is over. If you follow these 5 steps and still find yourself having doubts about conquering your fear, ask your self these questions:
-What do I stand to gain from confronting this fear?
-What do I stand to miss out on if I don't deal with this fear?
Fear can be very limiting if you don't learn to deal with it but if I can do it, so can you. Move out of your comfort zone, demolish your fears, and you might just find yourself having everything you've ever wanted.
"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." -Martin Luther King Jr.