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7 Techniques to Turn Your Fears Into Learning Opportunities

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Experiencing fear is good. It shows that you’re human and that your natural survival instincts are working just fine. Imagine a fearless person about to swim across a river full of crocodiles and you’ll know what I mean. Perhaps more than any other emotion, fear enabled humans to remain a thriving species for hundreds of thousands of years. If not for fear, we would all have been dinner, roadkill, or worse. In short, we’d all be extinct had fear not been hardwired into our DNA.

But yielding to fear without any good reason is just being a scaredy cat. And allowing irrational fear to paralyze us into inaction easily turns us into a miserable pansy. After all, encountering a clan of ravenous hyenas is far different from meeting your hot crush who had you slinking into the nearest corner, speechless and short of breath for weeks on end. And yes, taking the first step to build a business is not as life-threatening as walking at the edge of a steep, thousand-foot cliff.       

In the digital age, nearly all fear is irrational, a construct of our wild imagination and the negative stuff we tend to focus on. You fear approaching the manager to ask for a raise. You’re afraid that following your passion will leave you without the security of a 9-to-5 job. You like to learn some techy stuff but you feel you just don’t have it in you to write computer codes. You’re aching to build your own blog but you dread the workload. In the end, a lot of us just stay put without even trying.  

Overcoming fear is both a lesson from history and a unanimous verdict of people who have learned to manage their own crippling fears. Following a traumatic watery experience, Tim Ferriss came to dread swimming so much that he never learned to swim until he was in his 30s.

Despite excelling in mixed martial arts, bouldering, wrestling, motorcycle racing, competition tango and other sports, Ferriss would have sunk like a stone had you casually pushed him into a pool. But once he questioned and conquered his fear, he learned how to swim faster than you can say dolphin! In fact, he was able to swim a one-kilometer stretch out on the open sea after just a few weeks of training.  

Here are 7 techniques you can adopt to conquer your fear:

  1. Understand the factors that trigger your fear – Is your fear reasonable or irrational? Reasonable fear is, well — reasonable. Take appropriate action if that’s the case. On the other hand, obliterate any fear that is irrational. Irrational fears are unnecessary weight dragging you down.
  2. Unless the situation is life-threatening, let the bout of fear play out – You’ll eventually realize that your emotions stressed you out more intensely than the object of your fear itself.
  3. Take control of something when fear takes hold – Without the semblance of control, fear escalates into panic. Start with your breathing. Fight the urge to hyperventilate. Consciously inhale and exhale slowly and realize that you can control aspects of yourself even amidst fear. Conquer more territory by controlling other aspects of your body.
  4. Use physiology to fight fearAdopt a confident posture and body language. Don’t slouch and look crestfallen. Physically appear in control even when you have yet to gain it.
  5. Follow up with psychology – Focus on positive thoughts. Focus on good intentions, excellent achievements, noble goals. Visualize beautiful things. Fight the evil of irrational fear with good.
  6. Speak confidently and positively – When mentally talking to yourself, elevate the conversation. Do the same when actually speaking to people.
  7. Turn fear-busting into a well-ingrained habit until it becomes instinctive – Bust fear the moment you feel it! It might take you time, but keep practicing over and over time you’ll develop a new positive habit.

It’s amazing how something so imaginary can trigger real impact in people’s lives. Irrational fear holds back millions of people from growth and achieving success. To win, face fear and use it to become a better person. As Tim Ferriss said, “fear is your friend.” And as he has done over and over, you can learn anything — from the complex nuances of a foreign language to the exquisite choreography of tango — simply by mastering your fear.

Markado Escano is one of the most highly sought-after creative directors for the top millennial influencers, entrepreneurs, and leaders. He’s the co-founder & director of EscanoBrothers.com, a boutique creative media agency specializing in the entrepreneurship and entertainment industries with work across the globe in the US, Australia, Dubai and Philippines. Work has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and various other international publications impacting millions worldwide. Markado is also the Co-Host for YEL2.0, one of the top millennial podcasts with Peter Voogd, the leading authority on Gen Y leadership.

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