Fear is an important emotion that often helps to keep us safe by warning us of danger. Yet, fear can also prevent us from having fun or benefiting from positive experiences for no good reason like travelling overseas, riding a motorbike, making new friends or changing careers.

We should not allow fear to control and take away our power and limit our experience. Avoiding your fears only prevents you from moving forward – it makes you anxious and will exhaust you because you are constantly thinking about different ways of avoiding situations.

By letting fear dictate your actions, it can hold you back from your dreams, you can miss out on things that can give you a free, fuller life and make you happier. I know it’s not easy to just “get over it” or “just do it”, but ultimately, the only way to deal with fear is to face it.  To overcome fear is a personal process – you need a lot of inner strength and a good amount of coping strategies, self-talk and perhaps counselling can help you explore the underlying issues and help you rise above what you are fearful of to completely avoid it.

Would you want to be held captive by fear and go through life wondering “what if”? Feelings of regret and missing out can lead to many problems later in life such as midlife crises, depression or anger issues. However, you can learn to control your thoughts and replace: the worries with hope, and the fear with determination, you can become fearless in the pursuit of your passion.

Be kind to yourself when facing your fears for the first time – it is a process and it may take time for you to fully achieve it. If you find yourself getting more panicky, take a break and find something pleasant or comforting to notice or do. You can try to explore your fear again when you feel calmer, taking breaks as needed. It’s all right to try, fail and try again. What’s important is to keep trying and make a bit more progress each time.

Here are some things you can do to face your fears:

1.     Acknowledge your fears

Acknowledging your fears will help you understand what you are feeling and allow you to work towards overcoming them.

2.     Expose yourself to your fears

The only way to face fear is to expose yourself gradually to your fears. For example, when facing the fear of flying – start by watching the planes taking off and landing at the airport, once you feel confident that plane travel is safe, the next step is to take a short flight to a nice destination that you have always wanted to visit, do a few more short trips then progress to a longer flight overseas. You will start to feel less anxious as you consistently engage in what you were once afraid of.

3.     Manage your stress

Stress and fear often go hand in hand. Breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation are two great techniques to reduce stress levels. Whenever you’re in a moment of fear, you can engage in deep breathing to help bring those stress levels down. If fear or anxiety arises, be curious, and observe the anxiety. Notice how your body feels, and any associated thoughts. See if you can observe it as it is, don’t get involved in the story or try to avoid it. If you get too agitated, turn your attention to something neutral, like your breath or stop and take a little walk.

4.     Think about the outcome

In facing our fears, we will grow instead of being stuck. Trying something new and challenging is a great way to face your fears. The hardest part is doing something out of your comfort zone for the first time, but once you’ve tried it you may find it wasn’t as scary as you thought, and the next time you do it things will be easier.

Once your fear is conquered, you are fully in charge of your life. Focus on the feeling of accomplishment and a sense of pride in achieving your goal.