OCTOBER 4, 2020

I wonder if fears ever really go away, or if they just lose their power over us.

-Veronica Roth

Everyone dreams to live the best life possible to get everything they want, but there is one big barrier that holds people back from realising their true potential, and that single barrier is fear. Fear is something that exists in all of us at some level or the other but when it becomes too overwhelming, it starts impacting our life negatively. This negatively gripping fear often makes us doubtful of our actions and demands us to unnecessarily overthink and become more doubtful. In this blog post I will be discussing the various aspects of fear and how to overcome it.

   First of all, let us understand what fear exactly is. It seems as if fear is an uncontrollable emotion which arises in us when we try something novel or when we are on the verge of taking important decisions that are going to impact our lives. We feel anxious and fearful at these points. But actually, fear is nothing but a state of mind like happiness, sadness, joy etc. Like all the different states of mind, fear is also under our control. Fear is sometimes temporarily impacted by external factors but mostly, all of it can be controlled from inside, we just need to know how…

   Fear is a controllable state of mind, and that is why we as humans have been able to deal with it since we were foragers roaming the jungles and searching for food. Fear has been around since then and that is why it is embedded into our primitive mindset very deeply. However, fear wasn’t something that negatively impacted the society at that time; it actually helped it survive. Fear was helpful because it helped humans understand what kind of response they were supposed to give to any situation that may arise. Fear helped the humans to understand when to fight, when to flee and when to freeze. The humans knew that lions were dangerous carnivores and that is why when they saw one, they chose the flight response out of fear and ran away to save themselves. The humans knew that giraffes won’t do anything to them, so they fearlessly chose the freeze mode by easily strolling past them or staying next to them. But, when the humans saw another tribe of humans trying to enter their area, they felt fearful of losing their food source and chose the option of fight in order to defend their land. Now, what does the importance of fear in primitive humans teach us? Well, most of us don’t realise this, but we still use these three responses in our everyday life to prioritise our actions and increase our chances of survival. If there was no fear, then primitive humans might have chosen fighting with lions and we all know what the result would have been. The same way, fear is helpful to us today when we stop at the red light to save ourselves from a collision and when we run away from stray dogs out of the fear of getting bitten. This is why fear is important and beneficial to us, but when this fear starts penetrating other aspects of life outside of survival, it starts becoming a little difficult and negative for us…

    The reason behind feeling fearful is simply being doubtful. Doubtfulness is the parent of fear. So, you need to understand why doubt arises in the first place in order to overcome the negative and unnecessary fears. Doubt arises when you are not sure of something because you don’t know how it will turn out in the future. Therefore, the root cause of feeling fearful about something is the uncertainty regarding its outcomes in the future. We are never fearful of the things that happened but we are fearful of what may happen. Take this example: when you stop at a red light, you are not fearing what might have happened on the junction you just passed, but you are fearing the junction you are about to cross because you are not sure if any vehicle is coming your way or not, so you stop at the red light to be safe. This is exactly what fear is – uncertainty of the future. 

   This is just one example. There are multiple things you may be fearful of like animals, places, people or the outcome of your own actions. When you think too much over anything that scares you, you are under the negative influence of fear. This negative fearfulness stops you from growing and trying out new things simply because you don’t know how this is going to turn out. To overcome the negative aspect of fear, you need to implement the following steps: –

  1. Calm yourself down. Often when the fearful state of mind is present, you are not calm and you are constantly thinking about what might happen and what might not. So, the best thing to do is to simply calm yourself down and let the fearful state subside. The most effective way of doing this is just closing your eyes, taking in deep, calmful breaths and simply focusing on them. Allow any thoughts that come to your mind but don’t concentrate on any. This small exercise will help you to get back in the present and put you in a rational state for the self-reflection ahead.
  2. Think about your actions. Once you have control over your fearful state and you are calm, you need to think about the decision, activity or thing that you are fearful of. It may be the act of bungee jumping or your neighbour’s dog. Whatever it is, just imagine it in front of you and acknowledge the emotions that are attached with it. Once you know how you feel and you know what triggers these feelings, you can start to use the trigger to help you feel a different way. If you fear bungee jumping, then simply imagine yourself rolling across the line, feeling the rush of adrenaline and a sense of adventure instead of the anxiety of falling down. This is how you can use old triggers to make you feel differently about something because of which your mind will recognise these new feelings and acknowledge them. By deliberately practicing this again and again your mind will become immensely accustomed to this new way of thinking and the new responses will arise automatically when the old trigger is provided…
  3. Imagine the worst that can happen. Two major fears that prevent people from living the life of their dreams aren’t something specific like a dog or bungee jumping. But they are the fear of failure and the fear of being judged. Here as well, the main core of the fear is the uncertainty of the future as you don’t know what people may be feeling about you and you don’t know what the future may have in store for you. In either case, calm yourself down, and simply imagine the worst thing that can happen as a result of your actions. When you fully concentrate on this, you will realise that no consequence is worse than death and most probably this won’t be the consequence in your scenario. You will realise that you were over-thinking and your fear will simply go away. If you still feel uncertain and doubtful, then the best thing to do is just try it out. You know what is the worst that can happen, so you can simply try out whatever it is that you are fearing on a small scale and see if it fails or works. If it works, then great and if it doesn’t, you still have gained some experience. 

   By visualising your fears, replacing the emotions attached with them and understanding the worst that can happen, you will most certainly realise that your fears were nothing but an irrational over-exaggeration of the worst thing that can happen to you. This is just what fears are when they become too overwhelming. They aren’t the reality; they are just a negative perception of the uncertainty of the future ahead of you. So, control this negative state of mind and you will be able to live the life you truly desire!

   Thank you so much for reading and I hope that I was able to provide some valuable pieces of information through this blog! Do share your learnings in the comment section below and I will definitely read and respond to all of them! I sincerely thank you for reading!

Well wishes,