How to Overcome Fear and Negative Emotion with Gratitude

Kate Byars | November 27, 2016

It’s Thanksgiving which means my Inbox and social media accounts are full of articles on gratitude. Entirely well-meant, the articles in my newsfeed suggest that I should be grateful for so many things in life.

Like my family. And my health.

I am tremendously grateful for my family and my health and certainly realize how very lucky I am in both of regards. However, I also feel a sense of guilt when I see these articles. Like maybe I’m not appreciative enough. Or maybe I’m doing something wrong if I’m not satisfied with my life, even though I have an amazing family and excellent health.

Do you know what I mean?

So I’d like to put a different spin on gratitude and give you a perspective that helped me get comfortable overcoming fear so I could take the risks necessary to create the life I wanted. The road to the Good Life – a life you create on your own terms – isn’t easy. It’s hard work to create the life you want. The journey is rife with setbacks and challenges – which is why it’s so easy to abandon our best intentions and return to the safety of the status quo.

GRATITUDE is a secret tool that can be hugely advantageous as you strive to jump from one point in life to the next. I have an achiever personality – which means I like to get things done and see progress in life. In fact, if I am not progressing I feel LAZY. And, Heavens to Betsy, if I FAIL I become absolutely morose and panic-stricken. Which means that for most of my life I shied away from anything that even resembled a possible failure.

Yet, avoiding failure meant I was also avoiding creating the life I truly wanted.

So please bare with me if I jump onto the “gratitude bandwagon” and take up space in your Inbox with ONE MORE gratitude post.

Hopefully this article will not only help you reflect on what you have, but also give you some actionable advice that helps you on your quest to build the life you want.

Overcoming fear, self-doubt, and negative emotions requires the ability to call on positive emotions during those darker times. Sitting around thinking “I should be grateful for what I have” usually won’t cut the mustard. When you’re not feeling lucky, it doesn’t really help to be told that you should be feeling lucky…no?

Instead, when you feel overcome by negative emotion, it’s always more EFFECTIVE to look at rationale examples of what you are capable of rather than an overarching, generic sense of how lucky you should feel.

Here is how gratitude comes into play…

You are an AMAZING and UNIQUE individual. You have rare talents and characteristics that are UNLIKE anyone else in the world! Did you know that? Each of us has our own proprietary blend of traits and yet, we rarely step back to celebrate ourselves.

Sound arrogant? It’s not.

Those who easily overcome fear and failure tend to be those who appreciate their own amazing gifts and make this a daily practice. In order to do so, create a GRATITUDE JOURNAL and each day list at minimum three of your personality traits along with specific examples that make you, YOU.


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For example, if you are a good listener you might write down:

“I listened intently to the cashier at the grocery store yesterday, even though I was tired after work. My ability to listen helps others feel valued and I am able to bring a moment of joy to other’s lives.”

Being a good listener is not a trait that everyone possesses. It helps you build a loyal team as an empathetic boss. It helps you be a responsive vendor. It helps you have open and honest communication with your spouse.

Do you see how powerful it is to be grateful for YOU?

Now think about a negative experience you may have had lately. Maybe you lost a business contract. Or missed out on a high-profile project at work. Maybe you dropped the ball and let someone down.

It happens to all of us. The point is not to AVOID negative experiences – living an amazing life doesn’t come RISK FREE – it means coming up with EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES to overcome those negative moments and move on empowered by the experience.

Self-gratitude is one of the tools that helps you do just that.

When you’re having a low moment, take out your Gratitude Journal and read it. Let the words sink in. You’re not a failure and making a mistake doesn’t define you. You’re YOU and that means you’re amazing. And capable. And tremendously valuable to the world and those around you.

Applying the strategy of self-gratitude you’ll quickly see how negative emotions become less intense as you start to recognize what you’re feeling as a temporary situation – and one that you can overcome. Also, the simple act of taking action by reading or writing in your journal can help propel you to take additional positive action to overcome the setback. Rather than lamenting on a friend’s shoulder, you’ll find yourself sharing your experience with greater introspection as you try to dissect the failure rather than wear it on your sleeve.

I didn’t understand how powerful self-gratitude was until I started practicing gratitude in my own life. And you know what? Taking risks became easier once I started focusing on what makes me unique. I discovered that I was more than an accomplished executive or a loving mom and spouse. I discovered that I’m capable beyond my own expectations and pretty darn cool.

And you know what? You are capable beyond your own expectations and pretty darn cool, too.


I believe we all have a bit of trailblazer inside us, don’t you? It’s my passion to help others create change. I’ve always found that disrupting the status quo leads to an amazing life where nothing is impossible.

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