5 Steps to Navigate Fear

Life is full of first times, and first times are frightening! Can you remember the fear you felt the first time you got behind the wheel of a car? The first time you asked someone out on a date? Or the first time you started a new job?

Often when we are faced with doing something new, we feel it in our bodies. We feel our heart begin to race, our face flushes, our palms get sweaty, or our stomach revolts against us. Those physical symptoms are real, and they can cause just as much distress as the thought of completing the task in front of us. So what is the answer? Some people decide that feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable isn’t worth the price and hide or avoid new things altogether. But that is not sustainable, and no matter how hard you try, you will have to face the discomfort of new situations.

Here are 5 steps you can take that will help you navigate fear.

  1. Take a deep breath.

Breathing is one thing you can control even when everything else feels out of control. Taking a moment to take a deep, slow breath will help you connect with your body and help you slow your racing heart. Stop. Breath in. Breath Out. You can do this. Click here to read more about breathing.

  • Assess the situation.

What do you need to do? Sometimes we let our imaginations run wild when we are feeling afraid. Often it helps to take a moment to assess what needs to be done and break it down into smaller, more manageable steps. What are the consequences if you don’t do what you need to do? What are the results if you do complete the task? Is the fear you feel real or imagined? I set a low bar: Will I die? If you won’t die, you will live through the discomfort.

  • Make a plan.

How will you accomplish what you need to do? Again, what are the small steps necessary to get the job done? When will you do it? Setting a deadline is often the push you need to get the work done and check this scary thing off your list.

  • Take Action

Nike ran a campaign once entitled “Just Do It.” That is good advice. Just Do It. Take the first step, then the next.

  • Celebrate!

Once you’ve conquered your fear, done your task, checked it off your list…celebrate! Be proud of the bravery it took to face your fear, push through your physical symptoms and take action. Each time you do something you think is too hard, you prove to yourself what you are capable of accomplishing.

Bravery today is moving from “Just Do It” to “I Did It!”

Written By: Christine, Masters Level Intern

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