The Positive Side of Fear – 15 Benefits of Fear
This article discusses how to accomplish your goals despite having fear or facing doubts or uncertainty about how to proceed i.e. the positive side of fear and benefits of fear.
What does fear really mean? Fear is the condition of being afraid of something or being worried about an outcome.
We all have, face and deal with different types of fear at various stages in our lives. But is fear really a bad thing? What is the message being communicated by fear?
Fear is not necessarily a bad thing; it is one of the inbuilt human survival instincts.
Too much fear that paralyses action is the bad thing. Have you ever done something you were fearful of doing then looking back you wonder why was I scared?
Many people face different fears every day including myself. My biggest fear is the fear of failure and as a result I push myself hard and set high targets for myself so that the effort exerted and progress becomes worth it.
Being fearful is a scary feeling, it makes one imagine all sorts of outcomes and scenarios. Sometimes the fear can be so intense to the point of inaction.
Persevering through and in spite of fear stems from a determination to succeed and make a difference in your life and those of other people. To make a mark in the world.
Below are 15 reasons why having fear could be a good thing. This article is written from the perspective of having a goal to accomplish and having fear or facing doubts or uncertainty about how to proceed.
You can quickly skim all the 15 tips on the table of contents below and then click on any tip to read further details. Please enjoy reading. Thank you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Heightened Awareness
- Acknowledgement and Enlightenment
- Focus and Concentration
- Preparation and Planning
- Choices, Analysis and Evaluation
- Dissecting Extremes
- Removal of Barriers
- Breaking Routine
- Opportunities and Resource Identification
- Activates Championship Mentality
- Motivates You to Build Skills
- Letting Go and the ‘After-strength’
- Overcoming Fear and Reward Anticipation
- Replicating the Breakthroughs
- Helping Others Overcome Their Fears
1. Heightened Awareness
At the basic level fear guides our fight or flight responses and helps to keep us safe and alive. Fear heightens your senses and awareness; it keeps you alert and helps in better preparation.
The negative side of fear is when it holds you back from doing something positive.
Most people already know and are aware of what types of fear they face. Common fears include: fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of change, fear of public speaking, fear of losing, fear of the unknown, ironically also fear of success.
Too much fear is like trying to fly in a plane with excess baggage – you might have to dump some or pay a hefty price to check it in.
To achieve great potential or greater heights – have fear and still push through it.
Overcoming fear is done through action.
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”. ― H. P. Lovecraft
2. Acknowledgement and Enlightenment
What is the driving force behind your fear? Who is on the driver’s seat you or your fear? What is the foundation of the fear? What is the root cause? What triggers the fear?
Is there someone else who has faced the same fear? How did they cope with it? Are there any takeaways and lessons to be learned from others?
Know that everyone faces fear at one time or another, the fact that others have faced fear and persevered should motivate and encourage you.
Taking time to understand what makes us fearful can offer useful insights and help to prepare for the fear and even work on reducing the fear or the fear triggers. Learn from your past fears.
It is rare to totally eliminate fear from one’s life however with practice fear can be managed and kept under control.
“Make an effort to dig deep within to identify the root of your fear. Undertake a root canal on fear. Put on an imaginary surgical mask and perform surgery on fear, cut open fear and analyze its contents under a microscope. Identify and isolate the fear toxins that are contaminating the cells.” ― Duncan Muguku
3. Focus and Concentration
What do you want to achieve in life?
Make a clear definition of your vision and success and back-it with the hunger to want to achieve.
Create goals that will set you up for success and keep you in a trajectory where you can run consistently and have confidence to jump over obstacles on your path including fear.
Have the will to breakout, transcend and rise above fear.
When at the end of the rope and have to make do or die decisions, fear inspires intense focus.
Fear keeps you alert, it keeps you surviving and progressing, it is a thermometer that lets you know you are moving into a hot area and doing something beyond the normal.
“If you are busy focusing on the falling bricks, you will never realize that they are truly stepping stones you need to cross over to the next phase of your life.” ― Kemi Sogunle
4. Preparation and Planning
Fear highlights the distance between where you are now and the goal to be achieved.
Preparation includes feeding yourself with positive encouragement, inspiration, reading about others who have accomplished their goals and letting their stories be a source of motivation, imagining yourself as having achieved the goal and letting this mental imagery spur you onward.
Planning includes documenting your starting point, seeing the big picture, breaking it down into smaller tasks, taking action and tracking your progress as you reach each small milestone.
See beyond your current circumstances, envision where you want to be.
A dose of perseverance helps one to stay in the game when you feel down, fearful and feel like giving up. It helps one to hang in there, to live to fight another day.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” ― Yogi Berra
5. Choices, Analysis and Evaluation
Fear prompts one to identify choices and options, analyze them and evaluate your best course of action. Analyze but don’t overanalyze.
Watch out for paralysis of analysis or over analysis which is one part of the problem, the second part of the problem is taking the wrong action.
Evaluate advantages and disadvantages of solutions, anticipate problems, be cautiously bold, if needed seek external perspectives and fresh points of view and ultimately trust your gut, take aim, take action and proceed with baby steps.
“You can’t attack the giants in your life, if you are not aiming to strike and hit the target. You can’t run a race in vain, if you have no plans to win or finish it. Start, strive and aim high…never give up. Your best is yet to come!” ― Kemi Sogunle
6. Dissecting Extremes
Is it worth it? How much do I desire the outcome? This is a key question to ask when you have a dream and fear is holding you back. What do you have to do to achieve your goal?
What is the worst that can happen? What are the major benefits of proceeding? What will happen if you don’t proceed? Will you regret your decision later in life? Will you be ok with not taking action?
At the heart of fear of failure, fear of change, fear of the unknown etc. is risk. Facing fears and building the fear muscle requires an appetite for risk taking.
Moving into the unknown is scary.
Fear provides an opportunity to dissect the most extreme, worst case, risky and dangerous outcomes and identify a course of action that is most palatable under the current circumstances.
“Fear is a gate; you control the password to unlock the fear gate. Overcoming fear is not a one off event instead it is a step by step process where as you unlock one small fear gate, you gain confidence to unlock another gate and another one. Thereby increasing confidence and moving away from your comfort zone towards higher possibilities.” ― Duncan Muguku
7. Removal of Barriers
Fear forces you to examine the real or imagined barriers that are holding you back from achieving your goals.
Barriers include anxiety, inaction, need for control, defensiveness, fearing you can’t do it, comfortable with the way things are, uncertainty, time and effort required, not knowing any other way of doing things, overwhelming thinking of the big picture that is to be accomplished.
Other barriers include wanting all the facts upfront, loss aversion, distrust, suspicion, exhaustion, paralysis, instant gratification, lack of confidence, impatience, need for safety and security.
Removal of the barriers is not a one-off process rather it involves identifying the major barriers holding you back and taking small steps and action on a regular basis towards defeating the barrier.
“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” ― Moliere
8. Breaking Routine
Presence of fear when undertaking a big goal tells you are stretching yourself and getting out of your comfort zone.
The main worry would be can I do this? The fear can stem from not being sure about how to do things? You wonder if your preferred mode of operation would work.
Should you do things the same way? Is there a better way to do it? What made you successful in the past may not necessarily make you successful in the future.
Breaking routine involves re-imagining things and processes, identifying new patterns and possibilities to aspire for, taking risks, exploring and being adventurous.
“If you expect life to be easy, challenges will seem difficult. If you accept that challenges may occur, life will be easier.” ― Rob Liano
9. Opportunities and Resource Identification
Fear tells you that something could be missing. What resources do I have and what don’t I have? It makes you realize that you don’t have all the answers.
At the same time it is humbling to know you don’t have all the answers and this encourages caution and guides our progress to take steps such as learning from others and learning by yourself.
Get outside yourself and view yourself like an outsider – how would you advice yourself? How would you improve yourself? As a consultant to yourself, what suggestions and recommendations would you make to yourself?
In the process of mitigating fear, one can also discover unexpected opportunities, solutions and breakthroughs that they had not previously thought of or considered.
“Life hands us a lot of hard choices, and other people can help us more than we might realize. We often think we should make important decisions using just our own internal resources. What are the pros and cons? What does my gut tell me? But often we have friends and family who know us in ways we don’t know ourselves.” ― Sheena Iyengar
10. Activates Championship Mentality
How far did you go the last time when you faced fear and proceeded anyway? How much further can you go this time?
Turn your fears into a personal competition where you set a target for yourself and seek to break your own records over and over again. Compete with yourself.
Assess what goals and targets you have set for yourself in the past, take stock of what you have achieved and areas where you have fallen short.
Set bigger goals for yourself, stretch yourself, breakout from the comfort zone, overcome fear of failure, try and try again and get back up when you fall down.
Learn from mistakes and take one small step at a time.
“All successful people men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.” ― Brian Tracy
11. Motivates You to Build Skills
Sometimes fear can point out the inadequacy that we have or what tools, skills, knowledge or abilities we lack to progress on a desired course of action.
Fear acts as an alarm clock reminding us that we need to do a bit more homework to pass the exam.
In this case one can analyze what shortcomings are holding them back and take the necessary steps to mitigate the shortcomings such as learning new skills and widening one’s knowledge.
“Take a limitation and turn it into an opportunity. Take an opportunity and turn it into an adventure by dreaming BIG!” ― Jo Franz
12. Letting Go and the ‘After-strength’
Fear and worry could be brought about by the desire to want to be firmly in control. The reality is that no one is totally in control of life and circumstances.
There comes a point when the best course of action is to let go and allow things to happen on their own.
When you have done your very best, even if you fail, recognize that failure is part of the journey to success.
There is a sense of strength that comes with letting go after you have done your very best and believing for the best. It reduces anxiety, panic, distress, impatience and negative thinking.
Allow yourself to focus on the excitement, drive, progress, momentum and success that come with overcoming fear and letting go.
“The beautiful journey of today can only begin when we learn to let go of yesterday.” ― Steve Maraboli
13. Overcoming Fear and Reward Anticipation
When you face fear but are excited and anticipating the rewards that you will get when you emerge victorious, this provides the boost to motivate oneself to push on.
You weigh the pros and cons of the cost of being held back from taking action versus the cost of moving forward despite fear.
When the anticipated rewards are greater than losses you muster your courage, draw on your reserves and take the plunge and overcome fear with the knowledge that although success is not guaranteed, you at least gave it your best effort.
“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” ― Henry Ford
14. Replicating the Breakthroughs
The first time when someone prevails over fear is usually the hardest. The second, third or fourth time of facing the same fear becomes easier and easier.
When you have faced fear and taken steps to overcome that fear, the next time you face similar fears you can overcome them by repeating the steps that worked for you in the past.
It is beneficial to also keep making small improvements in your process of mastering fear to make it better and better.
Over time the steps for conquering fear can be ingrained on your mind to the point where you can face fear without it holding you back.
In addition, other people have also faced fear and have learnt to bring it under control.
To avoid mastering fear by trial and error, you can save time by talking to, reading and learning about how others have succeeded in dealing with the fear that you are facing and then replicate their breakthroughs.
“I always think part of success is being able to replicate results, taking what is interesting or viable about yourself as a professional person and seeing if you bring it into different situations with similar results.” ― Robert Downey, Jr.
15. Helping Others Overcome Their Fears
When we have successfully learned how to deal with and overcome our fear, we can take an extra step to help others who are facing fear.
We can share our stories of how we overcame fear and share the strategies that we used to endure through our fear.
Most of all, by sharing how we felt after we accomplished what we set out to do despite fear, we can encourage and inspire other people to take action.
“If you’re not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other lives better.” ― Will Smith
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Additional Resources on the Positive Side of Fear and Benefits of Fear
- The Benefits of Fear
- 7 Beneficial Roles of Fear That Drive You to Thrive in Life and Business
- The good side of fear and anxiety
- Four Reasons Why Fear is a Creative’s Friend
- 14 Things that Fear Doesn’t Want You to Know
- 3 Questions to Help You Harness the Power of Your Fears
- Three Reasons Why Every Woman Should Embrace Fear
- The Benefits Of Fear
- Three Reasons Facing your Fears and taking some chances will progress your career to Leadership
- Fear of Success: What Will Happen if You Succeed?
- The Importance of Failure: 5 Valuable Lessons From Failure