How to Use Fear To Your Advantage
Fear can hold us back and prevent us from living the life we want. Whether it be reaching a fitness goal, fulfilling a personal dream, or achieving a professional ambition, when you think hard about what is stopping you — about what is driving potentially self-sabotaging behaviours that you might have in place — quite often you’ll realise that at the heart of it all lies fear.
What is fear?
From a biological perspective, fear is the body’s way of responding to a perceived danger. This feeling ignites a ‘fight or flight’ reaction within us that instinctively causes us to avoid or fight back at the perceived threat. While this is a biological survival mechanism that has remained as we have evolved as a species, this response can sometimes cause us to limit ourselves in everyday life for unnecessary reasons.
Sometimes you might not even realise that fear is the main culprit driving your choices and holding you back from reaching your goals. Fear of failure, of embarrassment, of the idea that you’re not good enough to achieve whatever it is that you desire — it can be overwhelming and sometimes stops us in our tracks.
How to push through fear
This feeling can be used to your advantage, though, simply by learning to approach fear in a different way. The suggestions below can help you to acknowledge some common fears and learn how channel them positively.
Failure is not something to fear
From a young age, we can be conditioned to believe that failing at something is a negative achievement and that it should be avoided. As we grow older, this belief can then cause us to avoid situations because we fear failing.
In order to be able to conquer your fears and use them to your advantage, it’s important to first change the way you perceive failure.
How can I change this?
At the end of each day, think of a ‘failure’ from your day — something that didn’t go as well as you would have liked. The point of this activity is to slowly change your perception of failure, one day at a time.
Reflect on aspects of the ‘failed’ situation that you weren’t happy with. Then, look for a positive lesson that you may have learned from this situation (there is always one, no matter how small it may seem). By learning this lesson, you are developing a new understanding of yourself. This then allows you to try and develop the skill or trait associated with this lesson, whatever it may be.
By actively trying to find positives in ‘negative’ situations, you will slowly learn that something good can be found in every unsuccessful attempt. Over time, this can help break down the barrier in your mind that makes you fearful of making mistakes.
Appreciate your failures for what they are: necessary stepping stones toward growth. Don’t let these previous failures scare you into trying new things in the future.
Don’t fear changing old ways — develop a growth mindset
Successful people possess a growth mindset and believe their abilities are adaptable and agile. If you possess a growth mindset you believe that with time, education and effort you can achieve your goals. On the other hand, people with fixed mindsets believe their traits or qualities are unchangeable, that some people are born with certain abilities which make them more ‘talented’ than others.
For example, a person with a fixed mindset may believe, 'I’m not naturally strong, I’ll never be able to deadlift heavy weights' and so they never truly try, in fear of failure or embarrassment. A person with a growth mindset would approach the same situation thinking, 'I’m not strong enough to deadlift those weights, yet. With practise, time and dedication, I will be able to'.
How do I adopt a growth mindset?
It all comes down to being aware of the way that you think about situations and trying to change your limiting thoughts from ‘I can’t’, to ‘I can with time and effort’. Remember, mistakes are inevitable (for everyone!) and you will encounter roadblocks; however, if you approach these challenges with the right mindset — as a learning experience — you can eventually get closer to your goals and become a stronger person.
Don't fear being different — stop comparing yourself to others
There are so many fear-based beliefs that lead us to compare ourselves to others when we really shouldn’t. Everyone starts somewhere and it can be easy to make comparisons to other people. This is especially true when we are on a journey towards a healthier lifestyle. Try not to compare yourself to women who have been training for years or have their meal prep routine completely under control. Even if someone appears to be starting out on their health journey, there are lots of different factors that can contribute to their progress. What other women choose to do will not always perfectly suit you, your fitness level, or your lifestyle. It’s important to keep reminding yourself that your journey is unique to you and that a different path is nothing to fear.
You can use fear to your advantage
We all experience some degree of fear in life. How you tackle these fears can determine whether you achieve your goals or if you let fear be the leader of your life. Learning to use fear as a tool can help you chase down your dreams and grab onto them. When you learn that behaviours and thoughts can be changed, you will realise you hold onto true power!
Ready to start conquering your fears? Set yourself goals and slowly work toward achieving them. By making sure you have tangible and clear goals written down, you can refer back to them whenever you start thinking unwanted fearful thoughts. There’s no better time to start than now!
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.