It’s a Thursday night and I’m standing wearing nothing but a pair of satin shorts, boxing gloves and shin guards. In about 30 seconds, the Emcee is going to call my name.
I’ve trained hard for this. Harder than anything before in my life.
But the fear I feel at this point is like nothing I’ve ever felt before. My opponent, while giving me the best part of 6 pounds, looks in great shape and is experienced.
My mouth is dry as I climb into the ring, only vaguely aware of my corner man’s reassuring slap on the back.
Gloves up, I wait for the referee to begin the fight.
A few years later and I’m standing again, but this time at the open door of a plane. In about 60 seconds, the dispatcher is going to call my number and I’m going to drive my body out into the aircraft’s slipstream.
This fear dwarfs any anxiety I’ve experienced. The boxing ring feels like a happy memory compared to this. This terror is a crushing weight on my whole body.
My eyes are wide as I puff my cheeks. My knees feel like they could give at any moment.
‘TWO‘ he shouts above the rushing wind. I see a flash of light as I step into nothing.
Overcome Fear in Your 30s – Harder than You Think
First up: Confession time. Both experiences are real. But the first happened when I was 27, not my 30s. I’m in my 30s now and still doing things that scare me.
As I become older I’m also more risk averse. I have a wife and family now who depend on me being alive and earning for survival and quality of life. Consciously or subconsciously, that thought is in my mind whenever I leave the house.
When I look back my life’s experiences I can smile. I’m blessed to have been able to be in these positions. Yes it took hard work but many others who would have liked to stand in my position never made it.
Some of them failed through the inability to overcome fear or just plain old bad luck.
I had a lot of support from friends and family too. They deserve credit.
Should you even be trying to overcome fear in your 30s?
Surely you’ve earned the right to take it easy.
‘Netflix and Chill’ right?
If that’s your attitude, you’re probably in the wrong place (unless you want to change, then keep reading). Fear is a natural and chemical response to perceived risk. It could be before a fight, but it might just as easily be before your annual review at work, a job interview or even ‘the talk’ with your teenage son/daughter.
I chose some pretty extreme examples of fear I’ve felt but they are relevant. Why? Because facing fears like these have allowed me to overcome more trivial fears in other contexts.
I find myself thinking:
“It’s not as bad as that time I climbed into a boxing ring with a guy who wanted to hurt me.”
Contextualising that fear makes mundane anxieties easier to cope with and therefore easier to overcome.
Whatever you’re going through in life at 30, you need to know how to deal with and overcome your fears. If not, you’ll eventually curl up into a ball of all your personal and irrational anxieties.
Fear and wanting to overcome it is nothing new. But more people are attuned to their fears and are searching for how to beat them
My friend Ben Brewer overcame extreme social anxieties when he was deep into adult life. He’ll tell you that this saved him from a pretty crummy existence (you can read about his experiences here).
More people want to overcome fear. Just look at these internet searches.
Four Steps to Overcoming Fear at 30 (ish)
I’ve chosen the word ‘overcome’ as I don’t believe you can ever beat fear or be in a situation where you don’t fear anything.
There is a group of people who genuinely don’t fear anything: Psychopaths.
But you can be in a position where fear doesn’t own you: where you feel afraid but you choose to achieve the things that you want to regardless.
So what can you do to overcome fear?
Here’s my top four ways to overcome your fears and achieve the things you want to in life.
1. To Overcome Fear You Must Face Them
This makes sense but how many times have you had the chance to overcome fear and shied away from it? When I lived overseas, language was a barrier. It took guts to try to speak in the native language. People laughed at me but it was important that I could communicate effectively with the locals.
After a while, people began to say that I was ‘kind’ because I greeted everyone I met in their own language. A little effort on my part went a long way to building bridges with the local tribes people.
I overcame my fear of speaking another language by doing it. You can read helpful articles (like this) or books or go on courses or whatever. But there is no substitute for facing your fears if you’re serious about overcoming them.
A lot of people fear job interviews. I used to be that way too. Now I’ve had countless interviews and I don’t fear them anymore. I even enjoy them.
Doing the things that scare you bring familiarity and can get rid of fear. I’m pretty scared of heights so jumping out of a plane at 100 mph was about as terrifying as it gets. It was worth it though and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
2. Knowledge can Dispel Fear (but not always).
Knowledge is great. Knowledge can make a man. And Knowledge can allow you to overcome fear.
When I stepped into the boxing ring, I had knowledge. I’d been training for weeks and up to 5 hours a day for that moment. I had my sights set on a pro debut the following year.
The knowledge and training kicked in as soon as the bell rang for round 1. I felt calm and in control because I’d spent time gaining the knowledge required to compete at that level.
Jumping out of an aircraft is different. I’ve done it several times now and feel fear every time. The outcome is always a little uncertain so I’m thinking about what I have to do on exiting the plane, what to do if something goes wrong and so on.
I’ve spoken to friends who do free fall and have hundreds of jumps under their belt. They still fear fear. It’s natural.
The question is not whether you feel fear, but if you are able to overcome it.
3. Use Gorilla Mindset Techniques
I used to struggle to cope with fear and anxiety. Even a year ago I would be a complete mess under any kind of pressure or prolonged stress.
However I’ve started using the techniques within Gorilla Mindset (a book I love by mindset expert Mike Cernovich). Self-talk is one of these techniques in which you use positive language in your personal thoughts to get out of negative ways of thinking.
This is linked with another technique called being ‘In the moment’ where you use active meditation to be hyper aware of your surroundings.
For example I’d be thinking to myself: ‘I’m sitting in a plane, I can see rectangles and squares in the panels. I’m looking out of the window and I can see geometric fields, trees and buildings’… and so on.
This annihilates fear as you can’t focus on two things at the same time. Don’t believe me? Try it now. Think of something that terrifies you then focus on where you are, what you’re doing.
Can you still feel the fear?
I didn’t think so.
Get Life Insurance
Overcoming fear became more of a challenge when I became a Dad. I didn’t particularly want to do crazy ‘out there’ stuff in case I died in an horrific accident and my family had to go on welfare to get by.
So I got life insurance.
No, this isn’t a joke.
This is a straight-up genuine way that I started to cope with and ultimately overcome fear. I got life insurance that covered my for all the mad stuff I wanted to do (parachuting anyone). It was expensive.
But it worked.
Because when I’m standing in the door of a plane I’m about to jump out of, I’m thinking ‘If the worst happens, my family will be OK.’ And not ‘Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this.’
Do what you need to overcome fear – even if it means forking out for insurance.
Overcome Your Fears Despite Your Age
If I had to pick one piece of advice from this whole article, it would be this:
Find the thing that scares you and do it.
It might not be planes or heights or anything major but if you’re scared of it, you need to overcome it or risk living an unfulfilled life of regret and ease.
This has been a good year of facing fears so far.
I’ve got a few more to go.
I’ll see you at the other side.
P.S. Parachuting is scary. Signing up for my emails isn’t. Do it here.