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  • Writer's pictureElfreda Manahan-Vaughan

How to Overcome a Fear for Better Confidence

If you follow my Facebook page you will have noticed recently that I posted a number of pictures of me doing things of which most people would be terrified. I have included some of the photographs below. In the comments people said I was brave and ‘rather you than me’ was a common response. The reality for me was that I wasn’t in the least bit afraid to do these things nor did I have any of the usual physical reactions such as increased heart rate, sweating or rapid breathing that most of us associate with fear. How is this possible you might ask? I hope to share with you how I did this and how it is possible for you to face your fears too.

I have realised over the past number of years that facing one’s fear can begin a process that allows you to face many fears and build a strong state of trust that leads to greater self-confidence. In order to help clients to overcome their own fears I have used myself as a test subject, if you haven’t done it yourself then you can’t really expect someone else to do it. So to test myself I have done a number of things that most people would baulk at and found that the more I did the less afraid I felt. I want to share with you what I did to do this but before I do, Id’ like to give you a bit of background to some of my own fears.

As a child I was afraid of spiders, the screaming and running out of the room kind and refusing to sleep if there was one in my bedroom. One of my most undignified moments was the time one ran across the bathroom floor when I was about 11 years old and my sister’s friend had to rescue me by opening the door and lifting me over the spider. The most undignified part was the fact that I still had my underwear down when she opened the door and was so afraid to let her go I had to pull them up in front of her. That’s not one I will forget quickly without some NLP. My other fears were heights. I was always afraid my rings would fall off, or I’d lose my shoes or handbag if I was close to the edge of something or that someone would startle me and I’d fall off. Despite that I still chose to go on funfair rides and climb to the top of things but was filled with fear, racing heart, sweating all over and pumped with adrenaline for hours afterwards.

When I was in my twenties I had had enough of the spider thing and so one day when I was in a friend’s house and a giant house spider ran across the floor, and she and her housemate jumped on the couch, I decided to face my fear and I picked it up with my bare hands. I was terrified but I managed to put it outside and from that day on I knew it was possible to get over a fear with positive action. It wasn’t until years later when I found NLP and Mindfulness that I realised changing your thinking was just as good and that you could change your fear of anything by changing your own experience.

I first tested this out in 2015 by doing a 10,000 feet sky dive. I used my mindful awareness to watch my thoughts and I used NLP to build a resourceful state of curiosity and excitement to create desire, and I used mental rehearsal to see the jump going exactly to plan. It was by far one of the most exciting and exhilarating experiences of my life. I had also used a similar process to help me with public speaking. I am sure many of you know that public speaking is the second most feared thing after dying and although I was confident enough to speak and had no problem preparing a speech, I still felt the surge of adrenaline causing me to sweat and have rapid heart rate. I consciously changed this and so now I have no nerves and can happily speak in any situation. One of the key points I became aware of as I went through these processes was that my fear was often related to a lack of trust. With some specific meditation techniques for exploring emotions I soon discovered that my trust issues were directly related to how much I trusted myself.

Once I had discovered that I was afraid when I didn’t trust myself to achieve a specific outcome, I set about changing that. I looked for times in my life where I had done well and had gained the outcome I desired. I started to use a mantra in my meditation practice that helped me to trust myself and I used mental rehearsal to see upcoming events working out and me overcoming and any challenges or obstacles easily and with confidence. My self-confidence began to soar. I realised a lot of my lack of self-trust came from how I had experienced being corrected as a child and how a lack of self-worth had made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. Once I knew this, it was time to use my Mindfulness to let these feelings go.

One of the wonderful things about practicing Mindfulness is that over time it changes the size of your Amygdala which is the alarm centre in the brain that tracks for fear. For the first time recently I was aware of how this works when I chose to hold a snake, walk on glass and hold a tarantula in my hand. This time I felt no fear at all. I was fully in the present moment, I trusted myself, and I also trusted the people who were in charge; finally, I knew it was irrational to think they weren’t good at their jobs. The reason being that I no longer feel inadequate or lacking confidence at my own job. Trusting myself allows me to let go of self-doubt as well as knowing that my experience of others is simply a reflection of how I feel about myself. I am so excited now for all the possibilities this will bring and know there are many more opportunities to test myself in future. I know I always say this and I will say it again, self-confidence is not the same as competence, we often mistake one for the other. However, when you have true self-confidence then you can achieve anything.

Thanks for reading. If you are interested in my corporate training, coaching (face to face or via Skype) or attending one of my workshops you can email me at, phone 00353868373582 or contact me via my Metta-morphics Facebook page, Elfreda

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