Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom. — Bertrand Russell

Fears can stem from a mixture of fear of failure or success or just fear of the unknown.

Some fears are healthy in small to moderate doses and need to be overcome if we want to be successful in life. Other fears which perpetuate negativity are simply not worth your time or effort and may just be symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Being able to “unpack” your fears in a systematic and meticulous way will be essential to living your best life!

Here are 16 steps to overcome your fears:

1. Define it

Define your fears, instead of your goals. — Tim Ferris (TED Talk April 2017)

The very first step is defining your fear. Is it a fear of heights? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Defining it will help to reveal a lot about why you have these fears and will also help you to determine a plan of action and develop your goals.

2. Understand it

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is to be understood. — Marie Curie

Understanding your fear is critical to overcoming it. How does it come on? How does it make you feel? Is it an intense gut-wrenching feeling that overpowers you? Or is it just butterflies? The level of intensity will tell how deep of a fear this is and how it affects you both physically and emotionally.

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3. Follow your intuition

Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself. — Oprah Winfrey

Your intuition is your absolute guide — and it is never wrong. If a little voice keeps nagging about conquering your fears— chances are you need to listen to it.

4. Contextualise it

“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” — Seth Godin

How detrimental is this fear to you achieving your goals? Is it a barrier to your future success? Honest answers to these questions will help determine how much of a plan you need to conquer it.

5. Determine whether its real

“Fear is a question: What are you afraid of, and why? Just as the seed of health is in illness, because illness contains information, our fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if we explore them”.― Marilyn Ferguson

Your fear could be self-generated: or False Evidence Appearing Real. It appears real, even though it is a fear of the future and is not happening now. Therefore, it has no real substance, arising when your ego is threatened.

If you find yourself asking questions like — “What if I don’t make it?” “What if he doesn’t like me?” “What if they laugh at my ideas” — these are usually artificial barriers that we put ourselves and then worry about the “what ifs” in life.

6. Decide whether its worth your time

“The trouble is, you think you have time” — Jack Kornfield

Do step #5 above, and then if its not real ask yourself these questions — Is giving this fear my wholehearted attention worth the time and effort? Will negativity consume me and lead to toxicity? Or is getting over this fear a positive step in achieving true success?

7. Approach it head on

“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” — Nelson Mandela

Once you’ve decided that it needs your time and attention — attack it head on. Devise a plan of action and stick to it — this is surely part of your personal growth and will only make you stronger.

8. Channel your spirituality

“The spiritual journey involves going beyond hope and fear, stepping into unknown territory, continually moving forward. The most important aspect of being on the spiritual path may be just to keep moving.” — Pema Chödrön

Seek spiritual advice if you need additional support — this can be key in also overcoming your fears.

9. Ask for help

“Ask for help, not because you’re weak, but because you want to remain strong”. — Les Brown

Seek out experts in the area, join a community of support and seek out online resources that can help you overcome your fear.

10. Educate yourself

“Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.” — Karl Augustus Menninger

Some fears are based on personal experiences, childhood trauma or abuse or even tragedy, loss and grief. Others are as a result of culture and past experiences. Educate yourself about your fears and how they came to be. The more you are educated about it — the better you will be at overcoming it.

11. Visualize success

“By visualizing your goal already completed, you flip your mind onto the frequency that contains the way that it will be attracted to you.” — Bob Proctor.

What will success look like? How good will that feel? Depending on the intensity of your fears, visualizing success will surely bring about positive feelings and confidence to execute your strategies in overcoming fears.

12. Have a positive attitude

“H.O.P.E. = Have Only Positive Expectations”. – Anonymous

A positive attitude will help you get through the entire process — and could be the ticket to overcoming your fears, according to a small new study in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy.

Researchers from Ohio State University found that people who had a negative attitude after undergoing exposure therapy for a phobia were more likely to have that phobia come back, compared with people who had more positive attitudes.

There are many people who are on the same path — know that you are not alone and you are on the past to a better life.

13. Learn from mistakes

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one.” — Elbert Hubbard

Learning from mistakes is essential in life. If you make a mistake its not the end of the road — just try and try again.

14. Take Action

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy”. — Dale Carnegie

Have a concrete plan — a fear of public speaking for instance requires that several actions be taken to overcome. Joining a toastmasters club or just practicing to speak in situations that would otherwise be intimidating like being a presenter at a large conference or workshop — are all practical steps you can take.

15. Step out of your comfort zone

Don’t be afraid to expand yourself, to step out of your comfort zone”.― Herbie Hancock

When you form the habit of doing something that scares you, your courage grows little by little. Soon enough, the barriers that once were holding you back vanish and you maximize your potential.

16. Embrace it

“We acquire the strength we have overcome.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

You may want to fully embrace your fear once you’ve conquered it — becoming an expert at it and passing on your new experiences to others who are going through the same experiences will show that you have truly embraced it.

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Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com