Using Fear as a Tool: Fear can be an indispensable tool for self-improvement – if you know how to use it correctly. Think of it this way: what causes the emotion of fear is the unknown, i.e. doing something for the first time or challenging yourself without knowing what the outcome will be. Being fearful cannot be escaped, but it can be managed. It can also be used as an incredibly effective motivator, signaler, and progress measurer. Let me explain…
Fear can motivate you to push yourself to your limit, both mentally and physically. A personal example was my expedition up the Himalayas last year. Although I was in fantastic physical shape and had been eagerly anticipating the trip for a long time, it still proved to be incredibly challenging due to things that could not be prepared for, such as the high altitude and all of the health implications that comes with it. But, instead of letting fear defeat me, I decided to use it as motivation to continue on for as long as I possibly could.
The very thing you fear can also tell you a lot about your psychology and what you need to face down and overcome. The extreme and freezing conditions of the Himalayas always fascinated me because it is a life or death situation that really exposes character. This excitement and nervousness indicated to me that this was something I absolutely had to do, and although I was a little fearful, I decided to do it anyway. Remember, whatever you fear most shows you exactly what you should attempt or at least begin preparing to attempt. Imagine how amazing it will feel when you conquer that fear!
Finally, fear also acts as a great tool to measure your progress… Maybe it would be better to describe it as dissipating fear! The more you push yourself outside your comfort zone and do what once terrified you, the more you’ll be able to look back and be proud of your progress. Thinking back and analyzing all I achieved during my expedition, I truly realized the magnitude of what I had done and how I had overcome so many obstacles by turning fear into a strength.
Embracing fear is the only way to overcome it. Many great people have pondered this in the past, but to choose a single quote I’ll go for the wise words of Nelson Mandela:
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
So, use your fear in ways that benefit you.