CWB Senior Scholar on How to Overcome Fear

by Whitney Hopler, Communications Coordinator

CWB Senior Scholar on How to Overcome Fear

If you ever feel afraid of experiencing failure and being judged for it, you're in good company. Many people deal with those fears regularly -- especially during challenging circumstances. But the good news is that everyone can learn how to live beyond fear and experience well-being despite feeling worried. CWB Senior Scholar Dr. Beth Cabrera shares insights into how that process works in a recent FEAR NOT podcast interview.

“I’m a huge worrier," Cabrera reveals. "Any fear I have, I’m good at just focusing on that and nothing else: Worrying about my career in the future, worrying about what people are going to think … worrying about my children, and are they safe and are they happy? But I’ve learned that does absolutely no good.”

What does help is practicing mindfulness, she says. “Focusing on the future and the contributions that I want to make and also focusing on what’s going on right this minute rather than focusing on the fear” have proven to be key ways to live beyond fear, she has discovered. The dual focus of “the importance of being focused on the present moment” and “the importance of meaning, of having a purpose in something bigger than yourself that you’re trying to achieve” helped Cabrera succeed despite fear in the midst of a variety of challenging circumstances -- from having to teach college classes in Spanish at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid when she was still learning the language, to launching her blog and writing her book Beyond Happy: Women, Work, and Well-Being.

“I had been learning so much in positive psychology that had changed my life for the better, and I had this need to share that with more people. … My desire to help others learn these things was so much greater than my fear of what they might think of my writing or about my ideas, that that’s really what pushed me to act despite my fear in all cases.”

By remembering your purpose and practicing mindfulness, you can put fear into a healthy perspective, Cabrera advises. “Any minute of a day, you have a choice about where to focus your attention. … Don’t spend so much time worrying about your fears. All you have right now is this moment, and worrying about fears isn’t going to make anything better, so focus on your ‘why’ and focus on those moments that you have in the present.”

Learn more positive psychology principles -- and how to put them into action in your own life -- at the Positive Leadership Certificate program that Cabrera and Dr. Steve Gladis teach at Mason.