No matter what your goals are in life or where they lie, there will always be obstacles to overcome, somewhere in between. Some of those challenges may be the very things you’re afraid of facing. So, in the interest of reaching your goals, it’s pertinent that you find ways to face your fears. This way, when one of your fears stands between you and something you want to achieve, you won’t let it keep you from achieving.

Make a plan.

A spiral notebook is opened to a page of lined paper that reads “Today” and a blank numbered list 1 through 4 below that.

Once you’ve made the decision to stay on the path toward your goals, regardless of the obstacles you’ll have to overcome, you must make a solid plan for how you’ll face your fears. How this plan looks will depend on the fear you want to face. Since every person is different, their plans for conquering the same fear may also look different.

For example, two people who have a fear of public speaking may face that fear with different approaches. One person may jump right in and start practicing public speaking as often as possible. The other person may choose a gentler introduction and slowly work themselves up to large crowds. Both of these are good options as long as they both result in a fear being conquered!

Remove negative judgments.

You can’t remove other people’s judgments about you or your performance, but negative self-judgment is avoidable. So, when you face your fears, avoid these negative thoughts:

  • I shouldn’t be afraid of *insert fear here*. 
  • I’m embarrassed to be afraid of ______. 
  • My fear lowers my value.

Not only are these thoughts untrue, they’re harmful to your overall self-esteem and your ability to combat your fear. Your fear isn’t a negative thing. It’s something you must accept and learn to work past. Don’t let it define you or hold you back from your ambitions. Replace those negative thoughts with neutral or positive ones like these:

  • It’s okay to be afraid of ______. 
  • Fears are normal and everyone has them, so don’t be embarrassed. 
  • My fears don’t lower my value but facing them does raise it.

Face your fears with perspective.

A cobra postures the upper portion of its body and flares its neck as a warning.

Another way to make your fears feel less significant is to put them in perspective. If your fear isn’t something that’s truly dangerous, compare it to things that are. Your fear of public speaking would probably seem pretty minor compared to being face-to-face with a grizzly bear, right? And introducing yourself to a stranger is unlikely to be as frightening as an encounter with a venomous snake … right?

It also helps to consider the worst-case scenario and its likelihood. If you’re afraid of introducing yourself to a stranger, what’s the worst thing that could happen if you do? They might yell at you and tell you to go away—but if that’s the case, you’re lucky to not be stuck in an interaction with them. And even then, that scenario is unlikely.

Suppose you’re afraid of presenting in public. Realistically, what is the worst that could happen? Someone might heckle you on stage. You might forget part of your presentation. In either case, preparation can alleviate either of those scenarios or at the very least, make you less bothered and distracted by them. In the case that both of those scenarios occur, you’re still alive, time will pass, and people will forget what happened.

Face your fears with coping mechanisms.

When in doubt, cope it out! That’s right, some fears will always stick around, so find coping methods that help you move on with your life. According to this article, “10 Ways to Fight Your Fears”, Here are some great tools to fight your fears:  

  • Take a time out. Give yourself 10-15 minutes to relax your physical responses to your fear, then do your best to take another shot at it.  
  • Practice deep breathing as a way to diminish those physical responses. 

In addition to five other strategies, this PsychCentral© article recommends using humor to relieve your feelings of fear. Make a joke about the situation, about yourself, or about a worst-case scenario. Either way, it’s sure to lighten the mood and encourage you to make the most of an uncomfortable situation.

Face your fears with your goals in mind.

At the end of the day, the real reason you want to face your fears is because you no longer want to be held back! And your fears are most likely holding you back from your goals and ambitions, so why not keep those in mind? Whenever you’re about to face your fear, think about your “why.” Think about the reason you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. Consider how this action will benefit you, your future, and your progress toward your goals. Then, dig your heels in and really face your fears. Bravery is a choice.

After you’ve faced your fear and start really making progress, make sure that you’re doing everything you can to maintain that momentum.