How to Turn Fear to Your Advantage

High Wire
Consider these five steps in the process of using fear to fuel your actions.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part two of a three-part series about the impact of fear and happiness on your ability to achieve success. Read part one here.

In my recent article on fear, I focused on the importance of recognizing when fear is holding you hostage. If you cannot recognize and manage your fears, you are vulnerable to them. In this article, I will explore the ability to recognize and manager your fears and use them to fuel success.

You may find yourself asking how fear can contribute to success, but if you stop and think about it for a few minutes, you will probably realize it is true. Without fear, we may never learn the value of testing ourselves and emerging victorious. Of course, we do not want to experience fear associated with violence or disaster, but the ability to identify and manage fear can be useful in all situations.




A Trigger for Action

To use fear to your advantage, you must have an awareness and appreciation of it: what it is, what it means, where it comes from and, most importantly, what you can do about it. In the previous article, I talked about the long-term impact that failing to manage your fear can have on your body and brain as a result of a buildup of unhealthy chemicals. Short-term fears produce some of these same chemicals, but if you do not let these chemicals build up, you can use of them as a trigger for action.

Very few people who have really succeeded have avoided facing fears, but when they did face them, they did not let them get in the way of success. Stop and ask yourself what you think about the idea of fear as an effective motivator. Can you think of any examples?

What about the scenario in which you learn that your health is under attack by your lifestyle? Can the fear of the loss of your health spur you to change your lifestyle?

What if you fear the loss of your job? Can you use that fear to motivate you to upgrade your education, gain new skills or look for a job that you would enjoy more?

If you have lost control of your fear reaction, then your fears may get the better of you and you cannot make the needed changes. But if you recognize a fear for what it is (a warning sign of danger and not the danger itself) and use the physical and cognitive reactions to push yourself ahead, you may be able to use it as a motivator. It is not always easy, but it is not as difficult as you may think. It requires you to have a solid ability to quickly recognize and act on your fears, such that they do not hold you down and instead turn into your advantage.


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