Willingness to confront your fears is critical to mental programming. Great persuaders have mastered their fears. You will be tempted to leave your fears buried, but they will invariably come back to haunt you. It is much better to deal with fears directly, especially considering that whatever we fear most is never as bad as we think. Human infants are born with only two fears: fear of falling and fear of loud noises. A newborn baby fears nothing else. All other fears are learned. The good news is that if we can learn fears, we can unlearn them.
How do you unlearn a deeply ingrained fear? You must face it. That’s right—you must deliberately put yourself in the situation where you are confronted with it and there is no escape. Any new skill comes only through extensive practice. There is no way around it. Let’s say you have a terrible fear of public speaking. If you want to be a brilliant public speaker, then you’ve got a lot of public speaking to do. You must force yourself to present to others over and over again. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld jokes about how people are more afraid of public speaking than of dying. He says they would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy! The truth is, we usually find out, once we’ve stepped up and faced a fear directly, that it wasn’t so bad. Most of our fears are exaggerated doubts or they are based on unrealities. How will you ever come to this realization if you don’t look your fears in the face?