How to Make Fear Work for You

  • I am thinking of applying for the position, but I’m afraid if I don’t get it, I’ll be humiliated.
  • I’m afraid to speak up in groups. I’m fine one-on-one, but in groups I freeze.
  • I know I should do something when the boss bullies Jessica, but I’m afraid to speak up because she might then turn on me.
  • I let Uncle Joe say racist things, because if I say something, I’m afraid it would ruin our family dinner. And then I feel like a coward.

Step 1. Assess whether there is a real threat

Step 2. Decide you are being called to courage

Step 3. Reframe your experience from fear to excitement

Step 4. Recognize your physiological reactions as indicative of excitement, not real danger

Step 5. Affirm your courage; allow yourself to feel good that you took this action

Five steps for handling your fears

  1. Assess whether the danger is real or imagined.
  2. If there is no real danger, recognize what is being called for is courage. Think of who you are and what you stand for in the world and choose courage.
  3. Define the fear as excitement. Don’t try to squelch it. Literally say to yourself, I’m excited.
  4. Recognize your physiological symptoms as just that — an indication of excitement, not of danger.
  5. Afterwards, congratulate yourself. Find the successful parts of what you did; do not allow any negative results to override the positive. Learn from the negative and affirm yourself for the positive.
  • Conscious use of self
  • Move your emotional attachments out of the way
  • Clear negative emotions
  • Commit to personal change
  • Identify with your values, not your emotions
  • Adopt a learning orientation
  • Persevere through the time lag of change; recognize small wins along the way



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