We encounter fear on a daily basis. Most common modern fears are social fears such as being afraid of being mocked, embarrassing yourself, or challenging others. Other types of fear we experience are fears things like cockroaches, blood, heights and such.

It’s not that bad

The worst case scenario is usually not as bad as we imagined. Fear is what kept our ancestors alive thousands of years ago when they gathered food while facing the dangers of predators.

We inherit the fear that has less relevance in the modern day. Fear is a way of protecting ourselves from harm. It is integral to self-preservation. We need to face our fears, understand what’s causing them and why we feel this way. Then master our fears.

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.

Litany Against Fear by Frank Herbert in Dune

It is only through facing our fears that we become human, detached from our animal instincts. It is not easy because acting out of fear or reacting to your fears is our natural instinct. It becomes even harder the older we get because we are so used to it.

Quick mindfulness

However, it is not as difficult as it appears. You can snap yourself out of an instinctive reaction through mindfulness. One quick way is to put yourself in a one-minute exercise. Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply through your nose. Then breathe out through your mouth.

As you continue to do so for the next minute, focus on how your lung expands as you breathe in, and how your muscles move. Feel the movement of the air through your nose, and out of your mouth.

Avoid thinking about anything else during this minute.

Count your silver linings

Even then, the worst case scenario might be a blessing in disguise. Our fears are based on what we know of in our current circumstances. However, change is the only constant. What we were scared of might be unfounded when it actually comes to pass. Our limited knowledge does not prepare us to fully grasp the situation.

No matter how dark the skies may be, every cloud still has its silver lining. The worst can happen but there will always be positives to take away from it. Hang on to the positive and use it to drive yourself to grow and become better.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You might have truly and completely failed. But you learn from each failure. You’ll be more experienced when you make the next attempt.

Remembering that you are going to die, is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking that you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Steve Jobs

Fear of failure only stops you from trying, and to never take that step you would not know what would have been if you succeed.

Don’t be paralysed

The most common effect that fear has is to paralyse us from taking action. Inaction will only make it worse. Recognise our fear and take steps to make sure we don’t get hurt too badly.

Then take that leap of faith.

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