02/06/2013 11:05 am ET Updated Apr 08, 2013

Do You Want to Loosen the Grip of Fear?

Fear stops too many of us in our tracks, especially in tough economic times. Somehow we feel that if we are so afraid, we should not take the risk of moving forward. Wrong!

If you suppress a goal you really want to achieve out of fear, it can create added stress. I have learned through much trial and error to take the risk. I am aware that fear and growth go together. In fact, if I am not feeling scared, I am probably stuck. So I have been able to train myself to tolerate my anxiety when it surfaces. I don't try to ignore it or pretend it isn't there. I face it even though it feels so uncomfortable.

Here are some of the ways I have learned to move forward despite my fears:

Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. When you understand that fear is a natural part of our growth process, it is easier to accept it and not let it paralyze you. For example, if you are going to an interview for a job that is three steps above where you are now and you are terrified -- but deep down you know you can do it -- that is exactly as it should be.

Note to myself: "I can learn what I need to learn on the new job, or delegate what I don't know."

You are never given more than you can handle. Look back at the moments in your life when you experienced the most growth; they were scary, right? But you managed to get through them. Everything that happens -- good or bad, successful or not so successful -- teaches us something. Say you haven't been in a relationship for years, and an attractive person comes in to your life. You are scared because the last one ended in a way that left you deeply hurt.

Note to myself: "I need to give myself credit. I've reflected on what went wrong and my part in it. I don't have to do that again. My friends will support me, too."

Fear and excitement go hand in hand. There's little difference in the way fear and excitement feel. When you have the courage to take a step in a new direction, life becomes exciting, doesn't it? When you know from your "head" and "heart" that the time to take a risk is now, don't procrastinate. Do it!

Note to myself: "Even if the worse-case scenario happens and I fail, I won't crumble -- I am strong. And I probably will have had some wonderful experiences."

For more by Helene Lerner, click here.

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