If you ever feel like you are a pushover and easily dominated by others, then you owe yourself to learn how to fight. Not because you should become a bully. Obviously… But because when you no longer fear physical confrontation, you also no longer fear verbal confrontation.
Let me put it a more interesting way. When you can punch with your fists, then you can also punch with your words! If you want help to overcome fear of fighting then keep reading. Take some self-defense classes to learn some of the ways to defend yourself. You can learn the technical aspects of handling fights from other places too. However, this article’s focus will be on preparing yourself mentally for handling confrontation.
Prepare for Conflict
The more prepared you are for a fight, the less likely you are to need to fight. Preparing to handle the worst situations helps you confidently handle every situation in between. If you become confident you could keep your cool in a self-defense situation then a random jerk yelling at you isn’t going to give you a panic attack. Running away from conflict also robs you of an opportunity to grow while facing your fears. It’s unwise to pretend these uncomfortable situations never happen and never prepare for them.
If you live your life assuming there will never be any need to fight, then you put yourself at risk of freezing in such a situation. A lot of my clients feel scared of arguing with others or showing emotion because they worry about getting hit even in situations that don’t present physical danger.
Over-exaggerated fears shut down their ability to express themselves and handle situations effectively.
If you feel you are too physically weak to survive a punch to the face then get my free PDF: 10 Best Exercises for Winning Fights.
It includes exercises that give me a stronger punch, grip and other physical advantages. If you already take martial arts classes you may be wary of strength training exercises that slow you down with extra weight. These exercises aren’t about getting jacked, they are for developing explosiveness, speed, hitting harder, and developing a body that can survive a punch to the face.
If you haven’t already, I advise you to join a martial arts class as it’s excellent for developing not only self-defense skills, but also self-discipline and confidence. Being physically and technically prepared helps you to be psychologically prepared for a fight.
I’ve seen many people who were originally terrified of all kinds of confrontations, (not just fist fights), develop confidence over time. Eventually they felt completely calm when they needed to argue with others. Instead of feeling choked up and unable to speak, they could finally express exactly what they wanted to say without worry. That confidence was a combination of many things, but a major contributer was actually learning how to fight and becoming physically stronger.
How to Overcome Fear of Fighting
I write a lot about methods for developing a confident mindset, and there are lots of great methods out there. But another very important step to developing confidence is to increase your ability to influence the world around you. Harmless little creatures like rabbits can’t influence the world like a lion can.
When you know how to fight, and are physically more capable of handling a fight, it lowers the stress hormone cortisol in your body. You feel more freedom to interact with the world in the way you want because you aren’t constantly worried that saying the wrong thing could lead to pain or death. When you develop the confidence to handle yourself in a real fight, that confidence transfers to all sorts of confrontations and arguments with others.
Why are you afraid of fighting?
- social disapproval
Pain is the most common. Of course it’s normal to fear and avoid pain. It doesn’t feel good. To overcome this fear of an incoming punch to the face, you’ll have to actually practice sparring. Again, I advise you to take martial art classes that have sparring if you are serious about overcoming your fear of fighting. Such as kickboxing, or Muay Thai.If that isn’t an option then do this:
1. Get 2 pairs of boxing gloves. 16 ounces is a good size to avoid hurting your sparring partner.
2. Watch SEVERAL Youtube videos that teach you how to throw punches.
3. Practice on your own
4. Get a sparring partner and do slow sparring.
If a professional coach isn’t available to improve your technique then you will make many mistakes. But don’t worry. This isn’t about developing technical skills. It’s about developing confidence, and a very rudimentary understanding of the mechanics of fighting.By sparring slowly you have time to think about how you will react to each type of strike coming at you.
Remind yourself to stay calm as each strike is coming at you. Accept the possibility that it could hurt instead of cowering in fear of the potential pain. Slow sparring also helps you detect the different kinds of attacks an opponent could throw at you and pick up on the ways people telegraph their attacks. With this preparation, you are a little closer to believing you could defend yourself if necessary.
How to Overcome Fear of Pain
The fear of pain is also known as agliophobia. There’s a cool word you’ll forget immediately Let’s separate the fear of uncomfortable situations from the fear of pain. An uncomfortable situation could be someone yelling at, or insulting you to your face. It might trigger your adrenaline, make your heart beat faster, and make your whole body shake nervously. But usually in these situations, there is no threat of violence.
(At least in my experience. This could depend on where you live and the people involved of course.) If that sounds like you, then your fear response doesn’t match the situation. You probably already know that though. I’ll discuss more ways of handling this fear in future articles.
For now, remember that if you believe you can handle even more dangerous situations, it increases your sphere of influence and confidence in handling other uncomfortable interactions. Encountering a rude person is uncomfortable, but it doesn’t need to trigger the same response as a situation that could actually cause you real pain. This kind of over-reactive fear response is often correlated with believing you have zero control over reality.
Remember:Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.
When you are certain pain is inevitable, it might seem more reasonable to feel afraid. When a punch is flying to your face you know it’s about to hurt. However, that pain is temporary. Resisting pain causes suffering to last longer.When the risk of assault is real, you can either tense up and suffer before anyone even touches you, or take a slow, deep breathe and remind yourself not to fear pain.
You’ll gain more control over your mental reaction. Instead of racing thoughts of powerlessness, you can choose your next move and take action. Such as running away, attacking first, or confidently deescalating the situation. Your body will also be more relaxed and capable of taking your orders instead of freezing up.
How to Overcome Fear of Fighting and Social Disapproval
How to Overcome Your Fear of Throwing the First Punch
Should you Strike First?
Alternatives to Attacking First
You could alternatively choose to act like a psychopath yourself to scare your opponent out of messing with you. Maintain solid eye contact without blinking. Wipe all emotion from your face. Explain why messing with you would be the worst mistake of his life. Overwhelm him with fear and he might think twice about attacking you as you obviously won’t be a pushover in a fight.If neither of those options work you are at a disadvantage when your opponent attacks first.
This article includes advice on physical, technical, tactical, and psychological preparation for a fight. I’ve only touched on several of those preparation steps briefly, but being at least a little prepared in each of those steps is better than nothing if you ever need to defend yourself either verbally or physically.