We have argued that fear, while often uncomfortable, is a perfectly natural and normal response to life and to new and unfamiliar experiences. We are now going to take a leaf out of the self-help book in order to argue that it is possible to re-frame fear and thus change our response to it. We will move on to discuss how to take responsibility for our lives, change a negative vocabulary, make positive friends and utilize affirmations.
The only thing to fear was fear itself. We argue that fear is unavoidable – what we can change is our response to fear. Here are some new ways to look at fear – see if they help you.
- Fear is good: Fear is a wonderful indicator that we are doing new things, moving into new areas and undertaking new challenges. In this way fear is a good thing, it means that we are still growing, we are still alive. Arguably, if we are not experiencing some element of fear it means that we are stagnating – we are dying inside. Try to see fear as an indicator of growth and welcome it – celebrate the fact that life still holds opportunity for you.
- Fear affects everyone: One problem for students is that they tend to think that everyone else is OK, that they are the only ones feeling frightened and looking foolish. Obviously this is not true: It is to be believed, everyone feels fear when embracing the new. Sometimes just realizing that everyone else is also frightened can take the stigma out of our fear. Instead of a fear response proving once and for all that we are either inadequate or a coward we can relax in the realization that it just means that we are as human as everybody else.
- The only way to get rid of the fear of something is to do it – quickly: Most people know this cliche´ to be true. The only way to overcome a fear is to do that which we fear – and the quicker the better. Students can spend months worrying about that presentation – and then it is over in five minutes. The months of worry have just served to make the task harder.
- It’s easier to face fear than to live with fear: It really is easier to deal with fear rather than to live with it. Every time we allow fear to prevent us from undertaking something it is as if we are conspiring against ourselves to make the world a worse place. So if engaging in something that you fear, tell yourself you have actually chosen the easier option.
- It takes practice: Reframing fear in the ways detailed above may not come naturally to students. However, they will find that with practice they will be able to face fear differently, and this will help them embrace the challenges of being a student.