AZIM:  The purpose of fear is to compel us to consider our actions and protect us from harm. But many times our fears become bigger than the purpose they are supposed to serve and paralyze us from taking any action or moving ahead in life. In fact, we start using our fears as self-limiting and punishing tools that torment us with scenarios that do not even exist.

Becoming fearless is not becoming insensitive to our fears, but using them as stepping-stones to forge ahead on our path.

Here are a few ways to work with our fears and reclaim our courage:

  1. Focus on your breathing – Your breath forms your inherent link both to life and state of mind. In other words, each has the capacity to influence the other. You must have noticed that when you feel angry or anxious, your breathing becomes fast and shallow, and conversely, it becomes deep and slow when you are relaxed. The best way to calm yourself when confronted with fear is to follow a breathing pattern that best reflects your relaxed state. For this, focus on deeper and longer exhalations. That is, breathe out longer than you breathe in. An easy method is to take in a breath to the quick count of five in your mind and then slowly breathe out to the count of nine. Keep repeating this for at least 10 breaths and you will soon find your state of mind start settling down.
  2. Re-imagine the outcome – Our imagination is the harbinger of all our outcomes and helps us to project into the future so we can plan ahead. We have the power to create what we imagine, both good and bad. So instead of imagining the worst possible scenarios, imagine yourself being calm, composed and powerful in the expected situation. And practice the above breathing method while imagining the best-case scenario. This will help to anchor your breathing pattern to the positive outcome and help you be your best when the situation arises.
  3. Disassociate from your fear – You only strengthen what you resist; hence accept your fears and know that you are bigger than they are. Observe your fear as if you are watching a movie. Once you distance yourself from the fear, you can observe it well. Dig deep into your fear and deconstruct it like you deconstruct a recipe. Find out the various elements that make up this situation and examine them to understand what exactly you’re afraid of. Once you start observing your fear, one of two things will happen; either your fear will start becoming weaker (if it has no basis) or you will start to understand the real reason or message behind your fear. You can then focus on what needs work in you rather than on your fear.
  4. Fake it till you make it – Often our fears are grounded in our pre-conceived notions and complexes and are without real basis. In such scenarios it’s best to do exactly the opposite of what your fear is telling you to do. This is because our physiology mirrors our psychology and vice versa. So if you are feeling scared, pretend to be fearless. Do everything that a fearless person would do in such a situation. This not only changes your body chemistry but also sends a powerful sign to your unconscious mind to stop overreacting and tone down its response.
  5. Be in the now – All fears are future based, and all future is seeded in the present. Hence, concern yourself entirely with the present moment. If you do your best in the present moment, then the future will take care of itself. Once you embrace the present, you realize that everything is how it is supposed to be and the only thing expected out of you in life is to act from your highest self.
  6. Practice gratitude – Every situation contains both the positive and negative. Instead of feeling fearful, choose to feel grateful. For example, if you are scared of an upcoming examination, feel thankful for the opportunity to grow your awareness about a certain subject or life itself, instead of fretting about the grades. Once you start giving attention to the positive aspect of things, the negative aspect will begin to starve off and wither away.
  7. Start small – Often the imagined enormity of the situation holds us back from taking action, so take baby steps when attempting something fearful. Break down the situation into smaller steps and focus only on taking the next step for the present moment. Commend yourself for it. Once you start becoming comfortable with the situation, you can start increasing your pace and soon you will notice that you have conquered your fear.

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