Conquering Fear with NLP

  • I am scared.  What if I fail…….
  • I am afraid to stay alone ……
  • I am afraid of the dark…..
  • What if I am not able to clear the interview?
  • I am not good enough……
  • I don’t think I will be able to do it
  • What if people laugh at me…..
  • I cannot start.  I might not succeed

Recognize any of these sentences?  Heard it from someone or maybe you might have said it yourself, sometime. All of these sentences rise out of fear and fear gives rise to such limiting beliefs.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

— Anais Nin

Fear sabotages success. When fear is what rules us, our behavior and attitude towards life and success changes.  We create a number of mental blocks which prevents us from taking up anything new or meeting challenges. We live in ‘hesitation’ mode.

Fear is a very powerful emotion. It strongly effects on our mind and body. Fear can create strong signals of response when we’re in emergencies – for instance, if we are caught in a fire or are being attacked. This natural response is very important for survival. But when fear takes effect when we face non-dangerous events, like exams, public speaking, a new job, a date, or even a party, it becomes rather a bane than a boon. It cripples us.

When fear becomes a natural response to a threat that is only perceived, it becomes a killer.  A killer of dreams, abilities, confidence and growth.

Why do we fear?  Is fear necessary?

Healthy fear is necessary. If we wouldn’t be afraid at all, we wouldn’t have survived for long.  To survive, it is very important to know what to fear.  Else, we would be involved in one disaster after the other.  We wouldn’t be alive at all. We’d be handling wild animals, walking into oncoming traffic, jumping down a steep incline, or dealing with dangerous people. All of which is dangerous. We do not because we know we must fear them, else we won’t survive.

Since the evolution of mankind, fear is an instinct that has helped man overcome and deal with dangers and perils in order to survive.  But when these fears seep into other areas where the threats are only perceived, it cripples us. It stops our growth and does not allow us to lead the life we otherwise should have. These fears stop us from exploring any area of our development, be it communication, personal development, professional development, social development, and so on.  We find it difficult to speak, sing or perform in public, have no confidence whatsoever to give that interview or try for that promotion. It makes us miss so many opportunities in life where we refuse to take action. Well said by Ralph Waldo Emerson “Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.”

NLP Techniques to overcome Fear and Limiting Beliefs.

There is nothing more effective in helping us take action and do away with non-existent fears than NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) techniques.

The feeling of fear is in the mind.  NLP techniques help us to understand healthy and unhealthy fears. It works on unhealthy fears and helps eradicate them from our lives and replaces it with courage and foresight. NLP techniques are so useful it makes us realise that we have it all within us. It helps uproot our self-doubt, and stops us from negating ourselves and our potential. It takes us from the feeling or hesitation of “I’m not quite feeling my best right now. I will think about doing it” to “ I will do it right away”. From in-action to action.  It givesus the breakthrough that we could have been looking for all through our lives.

Few NLP Techniques to Break Through Fear and Limiting Beliefs

Most adults have dozens of fears, both rational and irrational. Fears get installed into our ‘programming’ by various external and internal factors. Our surroundings, culture, upbringing, parenting, teachers, friends, social dos and donts, experiences, and so on.  We perceive everything that happens around us through our five senses, and this becomes part of our behavior.

For example, how do we develop fears and phobias?  It is due to incidents in our past that have enabled this fear. For example – fear of being in the dark.  When we were kids, our parents or an elder would tell us stories about dark rooms and boogey men, how children would be punished if they didn’t behave, by putting them in the dark room. This triggers the child’s fear response. If I don’t behave I will be put into the dark room and dark rooms have full of dangers lurking in there.  Later on, in life he has no idea wherehis fear of the dark has come from. That’s programming.

Fear isn’t bad, but being controlled by fear is. NLP processes help participants identify and overcome their irrational fears by enabling them with learning and practicing skills, to first gain confidence. With confidence comes trust that they will be able to take control of their fears and channelize it productively. Then NLP uses more in-depth techniques to dismantle the deeply held fears. Let us understand few of these techniques which help us get past our deeply held irrational fears.

1. Identify the Fears- Awareness

Fear is also a habit. To change a habit, we need to first identify it. NLP helps us identify rational and irrational fears.  If we want to work on our irrational fears and take them out of our lives, we first go through the process of knowing them. Take a few deep breaths. Then being in the present moment, start prioritizing awareness by being rooted to the sensations of the body. Be aware of whatever you are going through in the process.

Being rooted and aware, helps us examine our mental and emotional states of happiness, sadness, anxiety, fear, and so on and incidents that triggered these states. There would be many things happening inside us during this process, but focus and bring attention to the emotion, fear, so that we can  examine it deeply and get to its root.  Currently we are only in the awareness state.  We have to take it gradually – one step at a time.

2. What triggers this fear – recognize triggers

The next step is to shift our awareness to the events that could have triggered our fears.  Here we go into our past to get to the root of this fear.

What could have been the trigger or triggers?If, for example, my fear is speaking in public, then people laughing at me when I participated in a public forum could have been the trigger for me to avoid public speaking. Even the word – public speaking – is enough to trigger a negative reaction, a recoil, that even though I have the knowledge and expertise required to speak and share my thoughts, wild horses couldn’t drag me to speak in public.

Now with NLP tools and strategies at my disposal, I can face this fear and question it to come up with answers as to whether my fear is justified.  Should it even be there?  I am no more the person I was as a child. Then why has the fear grown along with me?  Is it needed anymore? How can I change my behavior to enable me to get rid of this fear? Questioning ourselves will give us the answers we are looking for and help increase our confidence in ourselves.

We start realizing our patterns.  Now comes the time to choose actions that are appropriate.

3. Break disabling Patterns

One must first understand that our fears and phobias or limiting beliefs are only reactions to stimuli. Once we understand our pattern of thoughts and reactions, we are in a position to change our reactions and implement newer and more efficient ones, that will be beneficial for us. But first we have to break the disabling pattern.

It can be done by taking slow deep breaths. Inhale, exhale and be aware of how we breathe. Free the mind. Get into a relaxed state. Our aim is to change how we view the triggers that enable our fear. Now it’s time to change our reaction to the trigger from a conscious state. Enable a new reaction but this time a positive one, consciously. By changing our mindset, we can change our reaction to stimuli and bring profound meaning and success to our lives. 

These techniques are just the tip of the ice-berg.  NLP tools and strategies deploy many such methods that can uproot any fears and limiting beliefs from our conscious/sub-conscious and replace them with powerful and enabling beliefs to allow us the freedom to live the life we deserve, make the choices that would only take us forward towards success.

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