Facing Your Fears. Live a Courageous Life.
You can run, but you can’t hide! No matter what goal you are trying to reach, the large majority of your success depends on your ability to work through mental challenges and obstacles. Your success is directly related to your ability to manage your psychological roadblocks, in particular, fear. The more you embrace this, and apply concrete actions to mindfully manage your mental approach towards fear, the stronger the likelihood you will reach your goals.
Why So Scared?
Our natural instinct is to protect ourselves. Minimizing threat is the brain’s primary goal, and it dedicates a higher degree of resources to this process than it does maximizing pleasure.
In evolutionary terms, this made a lot of sense for our survival and to this day plays a helpful role. However, without having the ability to mind-shift into a more productive and preferred state of mind when appropriate, you are essentially at the mercy of the brain’s automaticity. But you can minimize your brain’s automatic hold on you. Here are three ways you can train your brain and body to work through fear to do better, by thinking better.
Forget the outcome
Place your focus on the process, the “now”, and let the outcome go.
This sounds counterintuitive, and it is for most people. However, if you are going to train your brain to master any goal, then you have to focus on the step-by-step process as much as possible. The quality of your work will increase exponentially when you are able to do so.
Besides, technically, that is all you truly have control over. However, don’t take this to mean that it’s okay to forget the purpose or meaning behind your work, or to not be driven by a vision. Without those crucial ingredients, the work becomes mundane and robotic.
Start your day by reminding yourself of the vision behind the actions you will be taking that day, but then bring your focus squarely back to the process required to drive that vision forward. Often fear starts to creep in when we look too far into the future and believe our expectations are not going to be met. Keeping ourselves grounded in the present, and submerging ourselves in the one action we are currently engaged in can be a powerful antidote.
Ask yourself: How often am I picturing what can go wrong instead of focusing on what I am working on? How often am I in a state of complete focus on the work that I am doing? How do I feel when I am completely engaged in my work? What would be possible if I was able to recreate this process with all my work?
Always look for a solution
Train yourself to be solution-focused. That means taking the time to teach your mind to respond with a solution-focused approach.
Don’t allow yourself to get away with the most reflexive answer we all give when faced with roadblocks, “I don’t know!” This way of thinking may be very demanding at first, but the rewards are well worth the challenge.
Even if you are completely unsure of the answer to the question, take the first step, any step. Reconnect to your vision, anchor into the process, and then move. Let your behaviors shape your feelings from this solution-focused point of view.
Solution-focused thinking is all about consciously deciding to focus on how to move forward. Often it is the continuous dedication to micro-shifts in perspective that moves us to greater accomplishments.
You are more likely to chip away at your fear(s), or completely dissolve it, by taking constructive action, rather than staying in deconstructive rumination.
Ask yourself: What do I have control over right now, and am I doing something about it? If I were to do just one thing today to move my vision forward, what would that be? When was the last time I took charge of my thoughts and behaviors, how did it make me feel?
Biofeedback is a process that the brain is always participating in. Simply put, it is the gathering of information from the various and continuous physiological changes that happen throughout the body and the brain.
It is remarkable the amount of influential information that is shared between the body and the brain. You can literally reprogram the way your brain interprets your internal and external environment by changing a few physiological inputs. Clients are often surprised by how much of their fears can be managed after learning how to control their physical state.
Try it: Here are two foundational tools that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you regulate your fear response. The first one, and most foundational, is your breath (tool Heartmath and Headspace), and the second, is your body. Take a look at our previous blogs on how to incorporate these techniques to help you transcend fear.
Living a completely fearless life may not be possible, but living a courageous one is. It takes a mindset that is focused and practiced. A mind that has been trained to seek the most effective way forward. Mind-shift your fear by choosing to focus on the process versus the outcome, by looking for solutions no matter what, and by learning to manage your physical state, to do better by thinking better.
Dr. Yashar Khosroshahi, ND, ACC is the Chair of the Medical Advisory Board (MAB) for Relyf and co-founder of MINDSHIFT NINJA, a Leadership Development company.