Excerpt from Courage to Take Command by Jill Morgenthaler.

There is no cookie-cutter approach to overcoming fears, but there are many techniques that have proved effective.

  • Do the activity with a professional. She or he will get you through it.
  • Do the activity with a friend. Before a deployment to the Middle East, I was in the Army hospital getting stuck with needles to protect me against every imaginable disease. One young soldier turned to her buddy and told her that she was scared of needles. Her buddy reached out and held her hand.
  • Use evidence-based reasoning. Let’s say your fear is that you will faint in the middle of giving a speech. Ask yourself: Have you ever fainted in the middle of a speech before? What are the odds that this will actually happen to you? Remind yourself of all the times you’ve had to speak in front of people before and not fainted. Make a list—count up the instances. If you find that all the evi-dence points to this being an unfounded fear, then take confidence in that. If it’s a founded fear (maybe you have actually fainted dur-ing speeches before!), then determine what steps you’ll need to take to make it less likely to happen again. Maybe you need to eat a protein-filled breakfast, meditate beforehand, or lean on the podium during your speech.
  • Hire a life coach. Many people fear success. Will it change their relationship with their family? Will it put too much stress on them? Will they be exposed as a fraud? A good life coach can help you examine what you want and where the fears originate.
  • Be a contender. I’m very competitive. If I see someone do something that I fear, I just tell myself that if she can do it, so can I. And then I do.
  • Join a support group. If you have specific phobias or anxieties, find a support group or therapist that specializes in this area.
  • Force yourself to deal with it. In the Army, we were taught to rappel off 30-foot towers. The first time I stood on the edge of the tower and looked down, I wanted to take off the rappelling equip-ment and climb back down the ladder. But I realized that I could not let myself fail in front of all the other soldiers. I forced myself to back up and push off the tower.
  • Remove the option to freeze and fail. As I stood on the sea-wall, I knew I could not stay there forever. The ocean would soon reach the top of the seawall and pull me under. As afraid as I was, I knew I had to move to survive. Being afraid was real, but freezing in place was not an option.

It’s important to realize that we always have a choice: we can choose to be afraid and do nothing, or we can choose to work through the fear and move forward. Set small goals that will build your confidence. Evaluate possible outcomes and develop plans. Think positively; be a warrior in life. Move forward slowly and steadily. Celebrate the small accomplishments, knowing that you are closer to overcoming your fear.