Fear is crippling. My favorite quote, “Fear is the mind-killer,” which I have tattooed on my forearm, is from Dune by Frank Herbert. The quote has a whole other part, but this simplified version works just fine. It’s so simple to remember and has helped me push past fears, minor insecurities, and anxieties that used to freeze me up. Fear kills the mind and makes it so we can’t think straight. It will swallow you whole if you let it overtake you. When overcoming fear, we tend to think of “brave people.” It takes courage to fight fires, be a soldier, and jump out of a plane, but courage occurs anytime we overcome our fears. It can be as simple as quitting nicotine, learning to drive, or pushing past self-doubt. So here are some tips for overcoming fear.
The Effects of Fear
Fear manifests in many ways, and it’s different for different people. So one of the first steps for overcoming fear is recognizing what effects fear has on your body. Look, I’m not the best at listening to my body. I treat my body like it’s an old beat-up 97’ Camry, but even if you’re like me, you know what noises are good and bad coming from your beat-up Camry. So learn to listen for the bad to effectively treat it. Here are some possible effects of fear you might experience.
- Racing thoughts or feeling overwhelmed where you can’t seem to slow down.
- Having a hard time focusing, or as I like to call it, getting into a flow state/the zone.
- Feelings of paranoia or suffering from imposter syndrome.
- Feeling fatigued even after a full night’s rest.
- Having trouble sitting still or carrying tension in your body in moments of relaxation. (I clench my teeth and tense my shoulders all the time.)
- Weird and unexplained physical sensations like aches and dull pains for no real reason.
- Feeling irritable, frustrated, or short-tempered. Developing a short fuse over small inconveniences.
- Feelings of burnout. (Honestly, this could be a whole blog on its own.)
- Like I said earlier, the first step is to acknowledge how you feel. If you don’t notice the difference, then it’s hard to overcome it. If you can recognize your bodily reaction to fear, you can implement tricks to help calm yourself down. Learn your physical cues.
- Face your fears. The rest of my favorites say, “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 passed, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” If you recognize how your body cues to fear and then own your fears, you can allow them to go through you. Don’t let your fears freeze you up.
- Don’t forget to breathe. Fear brings panic, anxiety, and unease. And for me, the first thing to go is my breath control. Erratic breathing will only set your body into more of a panic. Take a few seconds to take a few big breaths to help calm yourself.
- Take care of yourself. I can’t tell you how often I feel super jittery and anxious for no reason. As the day goes on, it only seems to get worse, but then I realize I haven’t eaten at all or I didn’t drink enough water, and my body reacts. What I perceive as anxiety, fear, or panic is just my body being hungry or thirsty.
- Question your fear. Ask yourself what you are afraid of and why? If you can put a name or face to your fear, then it only becomes that much easier to overcome.
We all feel fear. It’s unavoidable. Fear is a part of the human experience; even though we all feel fear, we shouldn’t let it dictate our lives. We cannot allow fear to be a mind-killer. Fear can swallow you whole if you let it. Learn to listen to your body and find your cues. How does your body react to fear, anxiety, and stress? Face your fears and give them a name so you can take a breath and calm yourself in moments of overwhelming crisis. You’ve got this!