Pull up Google and you can read all the various acronyms for FEAR:

Forget Everything and Run

Face Everything and Rise

False Evidence Appearing Real

… and the list goes on. While some of these acronyms are fun to read, the reality is fear has the ability to hold us back from our full potential.

How Fear Impacts You

Living in a place of fear instead of our present moment greatly restricts logical thinking, because our emotions are taking control of our thoughts and potentially actions. The phrase, “paralyzed by fear” has some truth to it.

Think about the last time you were irrationally terrified. To clarify, irrational fear is referencing a non life or death situation. If you’re face to face with a grizzly bear, that’s a rationally terrifying situation. Being face to face with a purring kitten that has been declawed isn’t a rationally terrifying situation, even if you’re terrified of kittens.

Think about the irrational fear of the kitten and about what happened psychologically and physiologically when you respond to fear. Your heart rate goes up, thoughts cloud your mind, and you’re no longer functioning in your optimal state of being.

These are similar reactions to a rational fear, yet even if the immediate risk is much less, it suffers the same psychological and physiological consequences.

Are You in Control?

How do we get back to our optimal state of being (or at least close) and prevent fear from impacting our thoughts and bodies?

We practice putting fear in its place — which isn’t at the forefront of our thoughts.

The first step’s realizing the fear exists, and making the distinction of whether or not it’s rational. The next step’s deciding whether or not the fear, or you, is in control.

For example, public speaking is in your control. You can work to eliminate or conquer the fear by practicing and strengthening your public speaking skills and being uncomfortable until it’s no longer as terrifying as it was on day one; or you can choose to completely avoid the task.

If the fear’s out of your control, such as passing away, you must decide the amount of energy to devote to this fear and what the benefits are of using your energy on something out of your power.

Choose How You React

Once these distinctions are made, we have the choice as to the level of power and control we let fear have in our lives.

There may be fear of success, which can greatly hinder your professional growth. Fears of relationship infidelity can prevent us from being fully present and enjoying our relationships. Our minds and our self-talk are extraordinarily powerful, and we alone have the ability to control our success, or our demise.

When irrational fear presents itself in our minds, it’s our responsibility to categorize it before it takes over. This is no easy feat. Just like building muscle through weight training, you’re working to build new thoughts and new communication patterns within yourself. It’ll take time. It’ll take effort. There will be days you regress and days you move forward. You must keep building this “thought muscle.”

Fear is very, very real and can completely consume us. But that level of consumption is completely up to us.

Combat fear by practicing the tasks you fear and build your level of comfort and skill until the fear begins to dwindle. Practice interviewing your inner critic until it no longer holds power over you.

Fear’s inevitable, but it’s dominance over you and your life, is your choice.

 Photo Credit: Ayo Ogunseinde, Unsplash.com