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Fear is one of most common reasons people procrastinate on taking action toward their goals. In an effort to avoid failure, rejection, being embarrassed, disappointing or angering other people, getting hurt, and a plethora of other things, we play it safe and avoid trying new things.

Fear is natural. But it’s important to remember that, as humans, we’ve evolved to the stage where almost all of our fears are now self-created. We scare ourselves by imagining negative outcomes to any activities we pursue or experience. In fact, psychologists like to say that fear means Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real.

Identify Unfounded Fears

To identify the unfounded fears in your life, do this simple exercise. First, make a list of the things you are afraid to do. These are not things you are afraid of, such as spiders, but instead the things you are afraid do to, such as skydiving.

Next, restate each fear in the following format:

I want to_______________, and I scare myself by imagining ____________________.

For example, I want to start my own business, and I scare myself by imagining that I would go bankrupt and lose my house.

By completing this statement for all of the things we are afraid to do, it’s easy to see how we create our own fear by imagining negative outcomes in the future.

Three Ways to Overcome Fear

Here are three easy techniques for moving past your fears:

1. Disappear fear by choosing a positive mental image. When we’re afraid, our minds are full of negative thoughts and images. When you are feeling afraid, tune into the images in your head. Then choose to replace them with a positive image of your desired outcome. For example, if you’re afraid that starting your own business will end in bankruptcy and losing your house, instead picture your new business becoming wildly successful and buying a second vacation home with all of the added income you’ll be earning in your new company.

2. Focus on the physical sensations. You may feel fear in your body as a sinking feeling in your stomach, a tightening in your shoulders and chest, or an elevated heart rate. Next, focus on the feelings you’d rather be experiencing instead, such as peace and joy. Fix these two different impressions in your mind’s eye, then move back and forth between the two, spending fifteen seconds or so in each. After a minute or two, you’ll find yourself feeling neutral and centered.

3. Recall your successes. You’ve overcome countless fears to become the person you are today, whether it was learning to ride a bike, driving a car for the first time, or kissing someone for the first time. New experiences always feel a little scary. But when you face your fears and do them anyway, you build up confidence in your abilities. The situation you’re facing now and how your fear is manifesting may be different than what you’ve experienced in the past, but you know how to overcome your fears. You’ve spent a lifetime doing so successfully.

Feel Your Fear and Do It Anyway

Every successful person I know has been willing to take a leap of faith even though they were afraid. They knew that if they didn’t act, opportunity would pass them by.

Recognize fear for what it is: a mental trick that your ego uses in attempt to protect you from the negative outcomes it imagines. You create your fear, and you have the power to dissolve it as well. Use the techniques outlined in this article to overcome this powerful roadblock so you can turn your dreams into reality and live the life you deserve. Remember, no one achieves greatness by playing it safe.


As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, Jack Canfield fostered the emergence of inspirational anthologies as a genre—and watched it grow to a billion dollar market. As the driving force behind the development and delivery of over 100 million books sold through the Chicken Soup for the Soul® franchise, Jack Canfield is uniquely qualified to talk about success. Jack is America’s #1 Success Coach and wrote the life-changing book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and speaks around the world on this subject. Follow Jack at www.jackcanfield.com and sign up for his free resources today!

*Photo Credit: @Doug88888 via Compfight cc