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10 ways to rethink fear

We can allow fear to prevent us from doing things we dream about, or we can find a way to manage our fear

By Joe Serio

Frequently, the most significant obstacle to success can be our own self-limiting beliefs. This may be the single most important idea to grapple with as we imagine the kind of life we want. Leadership – whether summoned from within or provided by others – is the vision that helps us manage our fear and overcome our self-limiting beliefs.

The central issue is typically one of clarity, focus, and discipline. Here’s a keystone question to ask ourselves: “Have I decided what I want?”

Don’t take this word “decided” too lightly. Either we decide or don’t decide; there is no in between.

Related to truly deciding is the idea of “committing.” “Am I committed to it?”

Either we’re truly committed or we’re not. We can’t be committed to an undertaking and not committed at the same time.

The problem is that our own fear often prevents us from deciding, committing and, of course, keeps us from moving forward, to get what we really want.

As always, we have a choice. We can allow fear to prevent us from doing things we dream about, or we can find a way to manage our fear and move forward into things we never dreamed possible.

When we realize that everyone has fear, even the most successful people, our own burden can become lighter. When we realize that perfectionism – not to be confused with excellence – has no role in the creative process, our own burden can become lighter. When we realize that the universe is rooting for our success, our own burden can become lighter.

In our mind’s eye, we can frequently look at the totality of what we’re trying to accomplish and bury ourselves in fear. When we realize that life is about what we do here and now, in this minute, our own burden can become lighter.

Here are 10 useful ways to rethink fear:

1. Realize that often our fear is a result of events or perceptions from childhood, a time when we were not particularly qualified to accurately interpret what was happening around us.
2. Resist the urge to compare your insides to other people’s outsides. It may seem that they’re fearless. They’re not.
3. Understand the difference between healthy fear and paralyzing fear.
4. Create mechanisms, games, and psychological tricks to counteract the fear that gets inside of you.
5. Hard work will help reduce fear. Proper preparation prevents poor performance.
6. Don’t try to complicate or overthink your task. Just the opposite: keep it super simple.
7. Frequently visualize yourself going after – and getting – what you want. This helps to increase confidence and reduce fear.
8. Learn breathing exercises to calm yourself.
9. Understand that experience combined with reflection is the only way to really learn and “mistakes” are merely doorways to opportunity.
10. Do your best to serve others. Putting your ego to the side and serving others helps reduce fear. The more you give, the more you receive.

Once we truly realize that our biggest obstacle is the way we look at ourselves and our situation, our ability to do something about it will increase dramatically.

Dr. Joe Serio is a popular and sought-after criminal justice speaker and trainer. He is currently delivering a series of classes on time management, emotional intelligence, leadership, customer service, and other topics at the Harris County (Houston) Sheriff’s Office Training Academy. Dr. Serio is a featured speaker at SHIELD, Sheriff Institute for Ethical Leadership Development, at the Travis County (Austin) Sheriff’s Office Training Academy. He also speaks at adult and juvenile probation departments as well as police departments.