I’m a huge fan of lists. Obviously my all-time favourite list is my infamous bucket list. However, there are other inter-related and other not-so related lists that can have a tremendous positive impact on our lives; whether they be the to-do lists, the NOT-to-do lists, my “listified articles”, bucket lists and whatnot. Hey, even a grocery shopping list is quite useful!
Well today, I want to tell you about a really important list — I want you to write a fear list — and I will be telling you why you ought to do so.
Fear and Personal Growth
Living with fear is not only unhealthy but it stops you from achieving your goals and living life to the fullest. It takes one moment to make a decision to tackle your fears head on. And it’s not until you make that decision that you can begin to experience the real benefits that come with identifying and conquering your fears.
Think about each of your fears as a hidden diamond, that once identified, has the power to outshine everything else in your life and truly bring you happiness.
What people need to grow exponentially is to conquer as many fears as they possibly can.
Each day that has passed since the day I made the decision to conquer my fears has been better than the previous. You start to build a level of momentum that comes from your newfound confidence and it compounds daily. Every one of us is capable of amazing things if we can only understand how important it is to grow and not live with the majority of our fears, but instead challenge and overcome them.
As Bradley Whitford once said (and which I quoted in my graduation speech), “you can either be a passive victim of circumstance, or you can be the active hero of your own life”. Be that active hero. Let the fears challenge you and make you stronger.
So without further ado, here are the key reasons to why you should create a fear list today.
1. Fear list: It identifies what you need to overcome
Similarly as writing a bucket list helps figure out your life goals, so does writing down your fears help map out what exactly it is that you are fearful of. Often you don’t really know what you are afraid of until you are faced with a certain scenario that triggers a reaction or a memory.
Personally, I began a few years ago to unravell what fears I’ve held or experienced since my youth. Sometimes I would reminisce about certain incidents, or use photo albums or my parents as references for fears I’ve expressed throughout the years. Yeah, sure, I might have been afraid of ghosts and dinosaurs back then, but that hardly counts. I was looking for more deeper, intrinsic fears.
For the fears that I identified from childhood, I then asked myself the same question for each one, which was, “do I still fear this thing right now?” If the answer to this question were yes then I would add it to an Excel list that I created of all my fears. It was amazing how many things I was actually afraid of or at least had some nervousness around (and I don’t believe I am any more anxious or “paranoid” than anyone else!).
The process of doing this exercise is a bit like the advice that is often given in relation to problems and addictions, which is: “understand you have a problem and admit it before you try and solve it”. If you write this list in the most honest way possible you will get the best results from the exercise. Simple as that.
One of my major fears was “am I going to mount to something?” With good grades and a bright mind I was envisioned a bright career at school. This fear and challenge inhibited me in many ways. It inhibited me from choosing various paths. It demanded unfair perfection that often lead to prolonged delays, and I became indoctrined in that I was going to live a certain way. Over time, with the help of the fear list, I’ve completely let go of this fear. But of course, I still aim to “mount to something”, but there is no nervousness or fear overshadowing it anymore. Other personal fears would include; the fear of autonomy and complacedness, fear of public speaking, fear of losing my loved ones, fear of heights, an unhealthy concern about social media “likes/recognition”, and more.
But enough about my fears. Now get to map out yours. However, be aware over the fact that the whole list won’t come together in just one brief sitting, and that for me it has been a gradual process over a long time, where I sometimes suddenly discovered novel fears or “could-be-fears” if they developed further.
9 Essential Tips to Face Fear and Live a Bold Life | TinyBuddha
5 Thoughts on Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt | James Clear
2. Fear list: It allows you to conquer
Once you have identified the majority of your fears, you need to come up with scenarios where they may be triggered. By doing so, you are preparing yourself for the battle to conquer it. To put it metaphorically, you have analysed and examined your rival and now know its weaknesses and strengths.
The exercise helps you confront tasks or situations that you would have previously avoided because each time you are helping to contribute another piece of the jigsaw to the puzzle for the vision of your life.
You want to try to virtually gamify your fears. Imagine each fear being a level in a game you have to complete in order to get to the next.
In a later article I’ll be covering gamification and its benefits in greater detail. So be sure to subscribe to get the latest updates and freebies.
Be sure to take it one step at a time and pace yourself. Start with mini fears and then build your way up to some of your scarier ones. If you try and do the scariest ones first, you likely won’t achieve any progress, which means you will very quickly give up this strategy. The small wins are what will help you get to the bigger wins later on.
After I had completed one scenario in conquering a particular fear, I then tried to repeat the exercise with the same fear to lessen its effect even more. I found that the more times I challenged myself to conquer the fear, the better I became at dealing with it.
You can also make sure that you have exit strategies while attempting to conquering your fear, or at least mentally train your brain to think you have virtual exits on every stage of your “fear conquering scenario”. Should you have to opt for the exit you can still feel good about yourself for having tried and gotten halfway — which was better than before.
Part of the conquering of any fear is to learn how to breathe and stay calm. I used a technique that I learnt on one of the Tony Robbins tapes called “Get The Edge.” The strategy allows you to breathe deeply and it relaxes you a lot. I even found listening to audiotapes could be beneficial for the really fearful scenarios.
How to Conquer Fear: 7 Tips | TheManDare
How to Overcome Your Fears | TedTalk Playlist
3. Fear list: It enables you to track your success
As I carried on conquering my fears I created a list named “Beaten Fears List” (not really a good name, but you get the point). On this list I would add each fear I had challenged and succeeded against.
For some of them I realized that although I had marked a certain fear as conquered, the pain/tremor/anxiety still somewhat remained. This was because the fear hadn’t been challenged enough times, which I then made steps to ensure. Also, admittingly, for some, such as fear of heights and presentation nerves, I will never 100% defeat — but it’s gotten to the point where I just embrace it and never deters me from doing anything.
Up until I had my bucket list, and my extra fear list, it had been very hard to track growth and progress, but since making them it has been easy too see where I was, where I am and where I’m heading. This has also translated into significantly more confidence, which has the self-reinforcing looping effect of giving strength to tackle even more fears and challenges.
It’s incredibly rewarding after a rough day to browse through the lists. Moreover, in facing future nervous situations it is very helpful where you can say to yourself “I have overcome this scenario several times — I surely can do this again in the future”.
That concludes this blog post. I hope you enjoyed it and that you will try to make a fear list yourself and experience all the great benefits that arises from it. Give it a go (don’t be afraid ** tongue cheek **). Hehe, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
Jon | Bucket List Fanatic
Jon Pedersen is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, and passionate adventurer fanatically obsessed about his bucket list and the founder of BLF. Besides occasionally sharing bucket list worthy experiences from around the world, he also seeks to offer tools & resources to enable you to really live life to the fullest — which you can read at www.jonandrepedersen.com