A while back, I got an email from someone who had gone up in a plane with the intent to skydive. However, she had been unable to overcome the fear, and ended up riding the plane back down to the ground. She was very upset, and wanted to know if I could help. Well, no one can tell you how you can defeat fear in your life. That is something you have to work out on your own. However, I could tell her how I defeat it my life. My reply to her included the program below.
She also mentioned this problem to Craig Rasmussen, and he sent her his ideas on the subject.
Read the following steps. Think about them for a while. Take your time. However, once you start doing them, do them as quickly as possible.
- Recognize that fear can be harmful. This is true in all aspects of life.
- Read my page about fear.
- Have you ever had problems in a social situation because you were afraid of something, maybe what others would think?
- Have you ever had problems in a work situation because of fear?
- Recognize that fear is not something that you need in your life.
- As long as you acknowledge and respect danger, there is no need for fear.
- This step MUST be accomplished before any of the others will work.
- Decide you are not going to allow any fear in your life. This is by far the most important step. You MUST make a conscious decision not to allow fear in your life. I mean really decide not to fear anything.
- Repeat step three.
- Repeat step four.
- Repeat step five. (Get the idea?)
- Find something you are mildly afraid of. Are you afraid of what others will think of you in any given situation? Etc., etc., etc. Find something that makes you anxious without actually crippling you. (Don’t pick skydiving! That will criple you. Start small!!! Pick something that’s only mildly frightening.)
- DECIDE that there is no need for the fear mentioned in step seven. Think about what the consequences would be if you confronted that fear. Think about what would be the absolute worst consequences. Think about what would be the best consequences. Think about what is most likely to happen. I mean really think about it. Spend a half hour or so thinking about everything that could happen. Think about whether the risks are worth the potential benefits. Are they? If so, decide that you are going to obtain the benefits.
- Are the possible negative consequences really worth your fear? Or, is your fear unneeded? Decide that if the worst happens, then it happens. Acknowledge that the worst may happen, but even if it does, it’s not going to destroy you.
- RESOLVE to not let the fear stop you.
- Repeat step ten.
- Repeat step eleven.
- Find something distracting to think about. Do you have a boyfriend, husband, child, cat, dog, or anything like that? Do you have a complex job or class? Anything that can fairly fully occupy your mind.
- Relax. Take long deep breaths.
- Decide when you are going to face your fear. Set an actual time (within the next 24 hours. Once you start, it’s important to follow all these steps in as short a time as possible. The longer it takes, the harder it will be.)
- As the time approaches, think about the subject mentioned in step 13. I mean really concentrate on it. Let it fill your mind. If you start to feal nervous or scared, remind yourself that you are not going to allow fear to rule your life, then go back to thinking about the other subject.
- Just before you get into the situation, acknowledge the danger in the situation and decide that you are going to go ahead with it anyway. Try to relax. Take a few deep breaths.
- Go into the situation. If fear rises again, remind yourself that fear isn’t going to rule your life.
- If you fail, go back to step seven, and pick something that isn’t as frightening this time.
- If you succeed, reward yourself. Maybe go out to dinner. Maybe buy some new clothes. Maybe go see a movie. Anything fun. Just make sure you remember it as a reward.
- Think about each aspect of what took place. How did you feel? Was it really as bad as you thought it would be? Etc., etc., etc.
- Tell someone about it. Tell someone who will give you a “pat on the back”. Positive reinforcement can really make the difference.
- Give yourself a little time to enjoy the victory.
- Tell me. (This step isn’t really needed, I just like to know I’m having a positive influence on someone’s life.)
- Go back to step seven and pick something a little (a very little) bit harder. Continue repeating steps 7-23 until you are really confident that you can overcome the fear of skydiving.
- When you are confident that you can overcome that fear, DON’T WAIT! Make an appointment to skydive as soon as possible. The longer you wait the harder it will be.
- Follow steps 8-23 with skydiving as the situation.
- You have now realized that there is no fear you can’t overcome. Skydiving has really proven that to you. Don’t stop here. Continue with any fear you still have. Continue with any new fears that crop up. Your life will improve more than you can possibly imagine.
Chris Hadfield: What I learned from going blind in space
Here’s an interesting video by astronaut Chris Hadfield with some thoughts about overcoming fear.