Four Steps to Mastering Fear


Photo Credit: Cynan Jones via Compfight cc

Fear has a way of getting me into a confusing mental mess. Not too many things feel worse than having my mind attack me with a thousand “what-ifs” and not even knowing where to start. Fear kills my creativity and leaves me feeling drained. It also affects me physically – I always get a headache. And not only that, but fear also gets me stuck in my own head. People can tell I’m stressed when I go silent.

But we don’t have to let ourselves get beaten down by fear. Here are a few steps you can take to get things under control:

1 – Stop everything!

Turn off the phone, Facebook, music – everything. Shut down the computer if you have to. Get away from everyone. Stop. Even if all you have is a few minutes.

Fear tends to have a snowballing effect that gets into all your other thoughts and everything else you need to get done for the day. If you don’t step back for a minute, it will only get worse. When you notice that you’re starting to feel stressed and overwhelmed – just stop.

2 – Get it out.

Be honest about everything that’s going through your head. Write it down, type it down, or just have a conversation with yourself. What fears do you feel right now? Why?

As an exercise, when you’re writing or speaking out the fear, take it to its worst possible conclusion! This might sound like a bad idea at first, but it could help put everything into perspective. (I once had a professor who had a minor disagreement with his wife. He thought for sure that he would be divorced and flipping burgers to pay child support by the end of the week).

3 – Evaluate.

Try your best to evaluate your fear. Don’t take it too personally – try to see it from a bird’s eye view. When you wrote down every possible disaster that could ensue – how much of it is likely and how much of it is unreasonable? It’s okay to have fear about a situation, but don’t think the worst is about to happen just yet.

Where can you make decisions? Look for things you can do something about, and look for things you can’t do anything about just yet. Focus on what you can do. Then make a decision.

4 – Get over yourself!

Fear loves isolation; it thrives on isolation. Fear loves it when you think you’re strong enough to get through it on your own.

Get out of your own head for a while. Go have lunch with a friend or make a phone call to someone you trust.

Don’t have anyone you can trust on that level? Well, that might be why you’re struggling with fear in the first place. Make some intentional steps towards building a small community you can trust with your life. Find a church. Join a club. Start going to a meetup group with people who like what you like. Do whatever it takes to get people into your life.

It’s not weakness to tell other people when life feels like too much to handle – it’ll keep you from going crazy.

None of these steps will take your life to instant perfection. If you find yourself struggling with the same things all the time, you might need to pick around for some deeper issues. Conquering fear and knowing yourself takes time. You’ll have to work at it for a while. But these are some steps that you can take to set things in the right direction.

What fears have you had to overcome? Remember, fear loves isolation. Share your fear story and how you’re overcoming it. Like this article? Leave a comment or send me an email. Share it on Facebook or Twitter with someone who needs it.

Also: check out this LifeHacker article about how positive thinking can boost your health and skills.