Overcoming anxiety and fears is a lovely way to feel more in control of your life. There are many kinds of fears you can search on the internet for help such as the fear of flying, the fear of dentists, or the fear of blushing. Childhood fears are sometimes connected to bad parenting. A girl who was molested might well fear dark places or being confined. A child who grew up during a war may fear loud noises. If you suffer from anxiety, the first thing I recommend is be gentle with yourself. Heaping guilt on top of fear to create a complete feeling is not better than shaming yourself. You have nothing to be ashamed of.
Some fears such as the fear of driving or the fear of flying are somewhat debilitating. If you want to take a vacation to Hawai'i, you want to be able to get in the plane. The first thing to ask yourself is how badly you need to get over this fear. Is it something you are going to be doing on a regular basis? After all, they have some very fine cruise ships that sail to Hawai'i. It is certainly not mandated that you have to get rid of all your fears. May be by making friends with some of them they won't loom so large in your life. In lieu of saying "I should this," or "I should that," replace the word "should" with "I chose." Then you can say with confidence, "I chose to not fly." Or "I Chose to not drive." It is much more empowering than telling yourself you are a fraidy cat, and beating yourself up. The truth is most people are afraid of something.
When does a choice become a fear and then a phobia? To some extent when we chose to award it that kind of power. I had a professor once who chose to use the stairs. He chose not to use elevators. The reason why was because when his grandfather was a young man an elevators were relatively new, a group of the grandfather's friends stepped into an elevator. For some reason the grandfather was the only one who didn't enter. The elevator fell and killed every man in it. His grandfather never got in an elevator again, and my professor did not take elevators. I could have reasoned with him that many advances have been made between now and the early 1920's when the accident occurred. I didn't. This man was completely happy with his decision to avoid elevators. No one would categorize that as a phobia, merely because of how he chose to frame it.
Some people do want to learn how to get over their fears though, and I had read that getting calloused to the fear is a good way to start. Practice meditation techniques, to slow the heart rate and control one's emotions. Imagine during a meditation over and over again going to do the thing that scares you. If it's crossing the street, help yourself by being specific about the street. Imagine the cars, the sights, the sounds. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen? My friend used to fear that she wouldn't get across in time. Ok, then address that issue. How fast can you walk? Do you have trouble walking? Sometime fears are not unreasonable. Another fear she had was of being hit by a car, as she had been in a rather severe car accident. So once again, it is helpful to take action and take control over the variables you HAVE control over. Practice being aware, noticing where the cars are, pay attention.
It has been my experience that self esteem is raised when you do something difficult, something difficult for you, and you accomplish it. Each difficult for you thing you do, is like another building block of self esteem. Having people pat you on the back and tell you, you are awesome seems like it would feel good, but it rarely raises self esteem nor stems anxiety. Unfortunately it sometimes even has the opposite effect. If you are in the habit of praising your children for every tiny thing they do, they eventually start to believe you have very low expectations of them! So if you want to get past your fears and enjoy more out of life I recommend you do one thing every day that scares you.
If calling up a girl and asking her out turns you to jello then do it! Start simple, ask someone to coffee. If they say no, pat yourself on the back for having put yourself out there. The next time will be easier. The less nervous you are the less creepy you seem and the more yeses you will get. Pay attention to what the other person is saying. If you really listen to what they are saying, you will never have to worry about what to say next. You will be responding naturally. If you are not listening because you are busy trying to come up with a witty incredible thing to say, you will come off as if you are not listening, and nobody is impressed by that. A good listener is hard to find, and frankly more people appreciate a good listener than a fast talker.
Sometimes fears border on hysteria. When I was in high school I had a friend who was not allowed to wear clogs. We lived in Chicago, very urban, and her mother was afraid that if someone tried to mug or rape us her daughter would not be able to get away if she were wearing clogs. A number of us who liked the look of clogs tried to convince her, if our lives were at stake we would kick off our clogs and sprint. What would have been better would be, once again, if we had learned to address the issue at hand. It is not unreasonable to fear crime in an urban environment. So what can you do? You can walk in groups. You can buy a large, protective dog. You can take a self defense course. You can carry pepper spray. And you can remember, above all things, that if you did the best you could, you can't do better than that. Sometimes things happen.