How to Overcome Fear
by Wiley Petersen
I remember so many times when I would settle down on the bull I was about to ride and fear would overwhelm me. It was as if my throat was closing in and I couldn’t breathe. My mind was racing so fast that it wouldn’t work and I couldn’t tell you my name if you would have asked. Needless to say, those were the times that I walked away defeated. Those are the situations that we must avoid if we are to be successful.
The biggest threat to your success as a bull rider besides laziness is fear. Fear is what keeps you from riding that bull when everything is on the line. Fear is what gets you hurt more often and fear is what makes riding bulls absolutely pointless. We can learn to overcome fear.
What is fear?
Fear is defined as, “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” Fear is when doubt and apprehension about something combine to overwhelm us and we truly believe that the bad situation will happen. We fear something bad that could possibly happen to us in the future and it affects our actions in the present. In other words, fear is faith in the negative or harmful.
There is no denying that there are dangerous things in the world. It is a natural instinct to want to preserve our bodily health and avoid dangerous situations. What separates the people who do great things from the mediocre is a matter of perspective in regards to the events and threats of life. In other words, fear is a matter of perspective.
Let me give you an example of how fear is matter of perspective. Let’s say you are a young high school bull rider who has only been on 15 bulls. I am a professional bull rider who has been on at least 2,000 bulls. You and I show up at the same event to ride the same bull. The bull that we are going to ride has been in the long rounds at many of the PBR’s Built Ford Tough Series events, so we know that this bull is good.
In this scenario, it is likely that you are going to be more nervous and possibly fearful than I will be because our perspectives are different. I see this as another 21 point bull that gives me the opportunity to get a score and win some money. You see this as the rankest bull you have ever been on and you are hoping that he doesn’t kill you. Do you see how the same situation can be looked at with different perspectives?
Change your perspective
If fear is indeed a matter of perspective, then it is possible to change your perspective and learn to overcome fear. In order to change your perspective, you have to get outside of your head. You have to start paying attention to what thoughts are going through your mind. I’m sure you have had conversations in your mind before, right? You must be aware of the internal conversations that are going on in your mind and take control of negative and fearful thoughts that will only keep you from greatness.
When I am faced with a fearful situation, I have thoughts like, “I could get hurt” or “I can’t do this.” When those thoughts come into my mind, I have to talk back to them. I have to change my perspective so that I’m not focusing on what could go wrong, but on what will go right. I counter fear with thoughts of faith. I heard a long time ago that Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. You have to come to your senses and get off the roller coaster of fear immediately.
Faith is the opposite of fear
If fear is the belief in the bad, faith is the belief in the good. There are two types of faith. Faith in people and faith in God. It is very important that you are putting in the time and effort necessary to improve your skills and confidence. As you do this, your faith (confidence) in yourself will grow. Therefore, one practical way to overcome fear is to train physically and mentally to improve your abilities and eventually your confidence.
You must have both types of faith, but the ultimate faith is faith in God. Faith in God is strengthened by reading God’s Word the Bible, talking to God (prayer), and being around other believers who encourage you in your faith (fellowship). You cannot use God as a magic potion to get what you want, but when you surrender your life to Him to live for Him, He will give you strength to overcome adversity.
Determine your purpose
Let’s be realistic, there is no practical reason for someone to ride a bull. It is a dangerous sport and injuries are going to happen. The question needs to be asked, why do you do what you do? The question of why is more important than the question of what. Your motive is what will help you succeed in life. If you are living your life just to get by and avoid difficulty, then you will not have much of a life. You have to find a deeper purpose to what you do for your entire life.
For example, I live my life to help people, inspire them to be great, and to know God the Father and live life to the fullest. This is my life’s purpose and it does not change. When I was a bull rider by profession, this was my life’s purpose. Now that I am moving into a different chapter in my life, my life’s purpose is still the same.
Why is your purpose important for overcoming fear? You overcome fear when the reason for facing possible danger is greater than the danger or risk itself. Bull riding is a part of your life. It’s not the whole thing. Therefore, your purpose must be intertwined with every part of your life. You have to look at everything you do as part of your life’s purpose. You will push through the fear to accomplish your purpose and stick with it no matter what you do in life.
You will face challenges, injuries, and discouragement in your life. Whether you ride bulls or not, life can be rough sometimes. Perseverance is as important as purpose. If you give up when things get hard, you will not fulfill your life’s purpose. Therefore, when you are facing challenges and are tempted to quit, remember why you are doing what you are doing. Stay in the fight and don’t quit!
Overcoming fear starts long before you put your rope on a bull. You must practice these steps to overcome fear:
- Focus on the positive
- Have faith in yourself
- Have faith in God
- Determine your purpose for what you’re doing
- Have perseverance