We have all been in situations that make us extremely uncomfortable. A new job, an unfamiliar city, or an environment where we do not know anybody. The question is, how do we overcome fear?
Recently, I was away at a conference where I was totally out of my element. I was nowhere near my comfort zone. I knew almost no one, at least not well enough to rely on for company. At several points during my trip, I contemplated retreating to my hotel room during breaks or mealtime, or at other times when there was no set program.
After all, we always have the choice to avoid. This is actually the most common response. It is a lot easier to leave a situation or circumstance which makes us feel vulnerable or uncomfortable rather than immerse ourselves in it, face it and grow. For some people, however, the thought of immersing themselves could be almost too much to bear, accompanied by feelings of overwhelming anxiety and fear.
But I fought those thoughts of running away. Instead of avoiding to deal with my own discomforts, I chose to throw myself right into them. After all, I went to the conference to learn and grow professionally, and ultimately meet others in the field who are all there for the same reasons. If I avoided them, what would be the point of this adventure? And how disappointed I would have been with myself for letting those fears get the better of me.
As I try to do in my personal life, I always encourage my clients to take risks. Facing a fear or managing an anxiety provoking situation, is not only an opportunity for personality growth and maturation, but also ultimately helps us with our sense of confidence and security.
So what techniques can we use to face and overcome fears instead of choosing to make a run for the hills?
It is not easy putting ourselves out there. But I have learned, both from personal experience and within my own practice, that in the long term, the rewards of taking the risks far outweigh the disadvantages. So stop running, and just deal with it.
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