Doing What Scares You – The Value of Overcoming Fear

By  //  August 3, 2019

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Psychological Benefits of Overcoming Fear

It might be something as trivial as ringing up a friend you haven’t seen in a while, or something as consequential as confronting your mortality by creating a will.

It might be something as trivial as ringing up a friend you haven’t seen in a while, or something as consequential as confronting your mortality by creating a will.

It could be “capital S Scary” like bungee jumping, or scary in a more subtle way, like jumping off a diving board. Whatever it is that frightens you, it’s important to remember FDR’s historic take on the matter: the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Okay, this is only half true; there are some things one can and should be legitimately scared of, like, say, a bear making its way toward you in the woods (yikes!) But what FDR meant, and what this article is going to discuss, is the value of overcoming the type of fear that only serves to paralyze our forward momentum and exacerbate our stress and unhappiness.

Do Things That Scare You

Try to do at least one thing per day that scares you. Systemized and scheduled in this way, you can ensure that you never feel tempted to back out when you’re feeling unmotivated. The one-a-day plan gives structure to the idea of overcoming fear, turning it into a project as opposed to an ambition. 

Over time, you will feel that, not only are you less fearful of the particular things you’ve confronted but that your relationship to fear itself has also changed.

The Psychological Benefits of Overcoming Fear

It is this relationship to fear that psychologists often concern themselves with: the patterns of thought that arise around certain stressors. It might feel discomforting to confront stressors, but in the process what happens – over time, at least – is that the brain learns to become more confident in handling discomfort.

As soon as your relationship with discomfort becomes chummier, you will likely find that you are less fearful of things in general. This is a great boon to confidence, as well as to one’s overall mental wellbeing.

How to Add Meaning to Overcoming Fear

Recently, there was a YouTube video that garnered lots of attention. It was of Will Smith bungee jumping from a helicopter for his 50th birthday.

On the surface, it seems like a pretty cool thing – a celebrity facing his fear during a major life milestone. But what Smith had decided to do was use the event, and his fear surrounding it, to raise funds youth education – you can click here by the way, to learn more about the charity!

Not only is this approach societally beneficial, but it might also be personally beneficial. When you add a greater meaning to overcoming a fear, or dedicate it to an important cause, you will likely find that you can stomach the discomfort a little easier.

Scared of doing a marathon? Use your run to raise money for a charity. Afraid of public speaking? Host a gala event for charity, where you give the keynote speech.

Doing things that scare you, while it may seem masochistic at first, is mentally beneficial in the long run. It teaches us to reconsider our relationship with fear and gives us an opportunity to leverage our fears for the greater good. What are you afraid of?

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