Are you familiar with the expression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”?
It might be an overused phrase, but it’s true.
Many people are paralyzed by fear and anxiety on a daily basis. They’re haunted by things that could possibly go wrong, illnesses they might have, and awful things that may occur.
That said, most fears are solely in the mind and never actually happen.
Furthermore, fearful imaginings are often worse than the reality ever could be. As a result, countless people suffer needlessly, worrying about things that never come to pass.
Are you living in constant fear or anxiety?
Let’s sort this out for you, so you can move on and start living the way you’re meant to.
1. Determine What It Is Exactly That You’re Afraid Of
Write down all the things that you’re afraid of or worry about on a constant basis.
These could be big issues that keep you awake at night, or little frets that come up on occasion.
Write them all down so you can address each and every one of them properly. By doing so, you can figure out where they stem from, and how to deal with them.
The fears listed below are some that are most likely to affect your life on an ongoing basis, but the tips shared can help you work through several others as well.
Fear Of Dying
One of the biggest fears that people have is the fear of death. Truth be told, this is usually the basis for most of the fears that they contend with. Fear of illness or injury and fear of loss both stem from the fear of dying, for example.
The sooner you can make peace with your imminent mortality, the sooner you can break free from this fear cycle.
I’ve written an article on facing your fear of death and it offers several recommendations on how to deal with the various worries associated with death.
Once you’ve made peace with dying, most other fears just disappear. You learn to live in the present moment and appreciate all you have right now, instead of fretting about what has passed, and what might occur.
Fear Of Something Bad Happening To You
Another type of fear that paralyzes and upsets many people is the thought of something bad happening to them.
They might be afraid to drive because they could get injured in a car accident. Or they might become hypochondriac because of all the potential illness they might get.
These fears often stem from the sense of a lack of control. In fact, they often spring up because of childhood issues rather than actual health-based concerns.
Let’s say that someone grew up in an abusive environment in which some sort of threat loomed around every corner. They might become hypervigilant, and grow up bracing themselves for the eventuality for something awful to occur.
Once they’re in an environment where they’re safe and secure, they short circuit a little bit. There aren’t any imminent threats for them to be wary about or have to battle, so their minds come up with things to freak out about.
If this is the case with you, try to work out where all of this stemmed from so you can address it at the source. You might need the help of a therapist or counselor to learn how to redirect old thinking patterns, and that’s absolutely okay. Just think of it as redirecting a stream into a healthier and smoother-flowing path.
Fear Of Something Bad Happening To A Loved One
This is another fear that comes from a lack of control. When we love others (and these could be human or non-human companions), losing them can be absolutely devastating. It also hurts like hell if they get hurt or ill.
We try to protect those we love as best we can, trying to keep them safe from illness or injury. This is both for their benefit and our own – we don’t want them to suffer any harm, and we don’t want to experience the pain associated with seeing them hurt.
The problem is that “safety” is an illusion.
It’s not a fun thing to make peace with, but it’s true. We try to convince ourselves that we and those we love are safe and protected by various means, but that’s a security blanket for ourselves rather than the reality.
Any of us could be injured or killed any moment of every day. It’s a hard truth to face, but once again – as soon as you make peace with it, you stop being afraid of it.
Instead of anxiety about all the things that could go wrong, you appreciate what you have while you have it. You take nothing for granted, and don’t waste time.
Love and nurture those you care about, try to make their lives as fulfilled and joyous as you can, and don’t pick fights over things that are inconsequential.
Be present, be kind, and when the inevitable does occur, you’ll have no regrets.
Fear Of Failure
Sure, you may fail. But you may also succeed.
There are few guarantees in life, and every single chance taken might indeed end in failure.
That said, with the law of averages being what it is, there’s just as much of a possibility that the chance you take will result in success.
Try taking little risks to acclimatize yourself to both small successes and little failures.
With each experience, try not to get either disheartened, nor overconfident. Attempt to process the experiences with detached stoicism, without any attachments or expectations either way.
Fear Of Risk/Change
Many people spend far too long in situations that make them unhappy because they’re afraid of what the alternative may be.
Consider a man who was married to his wife for 60 years despite knowing from quite early on in their marriage that he was gay. But rather than face that reality and the upheaval it would cause in his life, he attempted to maintain the illusion of normalcy.
In turn, his wife spent her life neglected and depressed, numbing herself with painkillers.
What kind of lives could they have had if they’d actually lived their truth? If they had pursued fulfillment and joy instead of miserably maintaining the status quo?
It’s the fear of what’s on the ‘other side’ of making a big decision that can stop you from ever making it. But if you are unfulfilled, unhappy, and resentful in the safe little life you made for yourself, isn’t it a bigger risk not to make the change?
Has the comfortable nest you’ve made for yourself become a cage?
2. Focus On Morale And Contingency
In the military, “fear” is never mentioned. Instead, there are two aspects that need to be dealt with: morale and contingency.
Morale refers to keeping the troops’ enthusiasm and confidence up, while contingency refers to anticipating all the “bad” things that could occur, and planning for them in advance.
You don’t worry about not having enough ammunition: you pack extra. There’s no need to fret about hunger or cold: wear warm clothes and take more food than you think you’ll need.
This simple military idea is one you can easily transplant into your own life.
Note your fears and anxieties, and determine what contingencies would be needed, as well as what works for you to improve morale.
Are you afraid of getting an illness? Create a care plan just in case, and have supplies you may need at home if it does come to pass.
Are you afraid of losing important papers while travelling? Make copies and leave them with those you trust, an extra copy with your lawyer, and one in your bank’s safety deposit box.
Keep reminding yourself of your strengths and notice the evidence in your life that shows how capable and resilient you are – trust me, it’s there if you open your eyes to it. This will help keep your morale high no matter what you face.
3. Pay Attention To The Positives, Not The Negatives
We only have so much energy and attention to give. When it comes to various aspects of our day-to-day lives, we get to choose how much attention we give those things; how much attention we pay out.
What are you paying attention to?
Are you spending hours doom scrolling through social media and panicking about all the awful things mentioned on there?
Or are you doing things you enjoy, and pouring light into the world?
It is far harder for fear to take a grip of your mind when you are busy living your life, doing good things, and immersing yourself in work or hobbies that you find satisfying.
Fear feeds off the attention you give it. Redirect your mind to something else and the fear will subside. Repeat this often enough and the fear will soon struggle to ever rear its ugly head in the first place.
4. Create A Mantra To Help You When Fear Arises
Speaking of redirecting your mind, many people memorize prayers, quotes, or mantras that help them work through fear when it pops up.
Our thoughts do a great deal to create our reality, so focus your energy on what you’d like to cultivate.
Look up quotes and mantras (or write your own), and repeat them when you feel afraid.
The litany against fear from Frank Herbert’s Dune was a favorite of mine years ago when I was going through a great deal of difficulty:
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
5. Stop Hiding Behind Excuses
When you’re living in fear, you will find any possible reason not to do something that scares you.
You will make excuses for not facing up to the fear in your mind. Things like, “I’m too old for that,” “I’m too busy,” or “my kids need stability.”
But those things are only true in your mind. There is no truth in reality that says these things should stop you from taking action.
To stop yourself from making excuses as to why you can’t do something, just keep making small commitments toward it.
Many things don’t need to be one huge leap of faith into the unknown. They can be planned for and acted upon little by little until the leap no longer scares you.
Do you want to start your own business? Begin it as a side hustle and slowly learn the ropes and bring in clients or customers one by one until you feel confident enough to quit your job for good.
Are you afraid of driving or learning to drive? Take more lessons than would be necessary for you to get your license so that you get more used to it, more muscle memory, more confidence in your abilities. Once you’ve passed your test, make sure you get lots of practice over shorter distances and/or with a calm and experienced passenger to keep you company. Your fear will soon subside.
Nothing in life is to be feared – only to be understood.
In the same way that real health comes from determining the cause of an illness rather than masking its symptoms, once you understand the source of your fear, you can neutralize it.
And then you’ll be unstoppable.
You may also like:
- How To Overcome Your Fear Of The Unknown: 5 Critical Steps
- How To Overcome The Fear Of Change And Confidently Face New Challenges
- The Real Reason You Have A Fear Of Failure (And What To Do About It)
- How To Overcome Your Fear Of Success: A No Nonsense 4-Step Approach
- 15 Truths To Help You Overcome Your Fear Of Being Judged
- How To Stop Catastrophizing About Events In Your Life