Five Fear-Busting Strategies
If you’re worried or even afraid about the changes you’re making in your life and work, you’re not alone. Most people going through change feel varying degrees of concern or fear. The key is to use a strategy or two to handle your fear, so it doesn’t stop you from doing what you want to do.
Doubt and worry are normal reactions to fears like
Successful and confident people have experienced fear, doubt and worry when they have made changes in their lives, but they have also learned and practised strategies for handling these reactions.
- fear of the unknown. Even though you may be unhappy with your present situation, not knowing what will happen can be stressful
- fear of failure. Creating change in your life sometimes comes with the risk of rejection, disapproval and failure.
- fear of success. Even positive change can be unsettling—things may not be the same in your life if you succeed.
Here are five fear-busting strategies for you to try:
- Name your fear
Fear frequently loses some of its power when you identify it. What scares you about the situation you’re facing? Describe it out loud. Write it down. This way you will know exactly what you’re dealing with.
- Get to know the unknown
Fear often comes from not knowing what to expect. Talking to people, reading articles, looking online for information—research reduces fear by turning unknowns into knowns and increasing your confidence. For research ideas and resources, see the “Other Relevant Tips” section.
- Ask yourself "what if?"
Thinking about how to handle something in advance can decrease your fear and increase your ability to manage the situation
Imagine what could happen if your worst case scenario comes true. Be specific and write it down.
Make a list of things you could do to handle the problems that would result.
Now, imagine your best case scenario, if things turn out as you hope. Describe it in detail.
Finally, make a list of what you will do to handle any problems that arise from your success.
- Stop worrying—take action
Worrying won’t improve an outcome and the stress it causes might make things worse. The cure for worry is action.
Chances are you’re worrying for one of the following reasons:
You don’t know what to do:
You can’t decide what to do:
- Describe the possible options. Brainstorm or research if you don’t know what the options are.
- Find out everything you can about each option you’re interested in.
- Choose the option that feels best to you.
- Try the suggestions below if you can’t decide what to do.
You’re waiting for something, like a job interview, an exam, an important meeting, and so on:
- Describe your options in detail.
- List the pros and cons for each option.
- Choose the option with highest number of pros or the least number of cons.
- Choose the option that feels right, if you don’t like the option with the best evaluation.
- Write a list of everything you can do to prepare for the situation.
- Check that you’ve completed every task on the list. Complete any unfinished tasks.
- Write the following on the list: "I have done everything I can do. I am prepared." Put the list away.
- Divert your attention: watch TV, read, visit a friend.
- Tell yourself, "I am prepared" if you start to worry.
- Use positive self-talk
There’s an expression from show business that says, "Fake it 'til you make it." You can use the way you talk to yourself to do exactly that. You don’t even have to believe what you say to yourself for this method to work. Just be sure that what you say is positive. Start with the following suggestions:
Create your own statements. Write them down in the present tense and keep them positive. Repeat these messages to yourself several times a day.
- I welcome change.
- I make good decisions.
- I am confident and capable.
- I know that I can change my life.
Going after the things worth having usually involves some risk, doubt or fear. Try to see your fears as a confirmation that you’re creating positive changes in your life. Acknowledging your fears and using strategies to manage them will help you effectively handle the changes you’ve planned.
Relevant Tips (alis.alberta.ca/tips)
Additional Reading (alis.alberta.ca/publications)