How to Kick Fear in the Face

About Jessica Sweet

Jessica Sweet, LICSW is a life and career coach. She works with bright, creative people who are stuck in dull jobs and are seeking their next adventure. You can read her blog at http://www.wishingwellcoach.com and learn more about working with her at http://wishingwellcoach.com/wordpress/work-with-me/

“Follow your dreams.” “Live for today.” “Remember that life is short.” “Be kind.” “Be confident.” “Go for it.”

We all know wisdom when we see it. Really, if you think about it, you know what you have to do.

But still, you don’t do it.

I recently spent time with a friend who recounted to me her experience of sitting by her dear friend’s bedside as she breathed her last breath.

boxe 49As the friend drifted in and out of this world, she shared the hard-earned brilliance of a woman with nothing to lose.

“Don’t do things you don’t care about.” she said. “If it bores you, stop doing it. Move on.”

Too often, I think, we believe that there’s something – some knowledge, some pearl of wisdom that will someday reveal itself – perhaps when we too are on the precipice. . .

But actually, I kind of doubt it.

You see, that secret knowledge we’re looking for isn’t really knowledge at all. The secret of life is not actually new information. It’s not some long-guarded ancient mystery.

It’s the simple courage to act as if we have nothing to lose.

What we seek, what’s missing, is the conviction to act on what we already know to be true.

Most of the time, you know what’s right for you. You can imagine, on your deathbed, what you will wish you did. But the thing that holds us back today from acting with that conviction is, of course, fear.

It’s fear that prevents you from starting a business.

It’s fear that stops you from leaving a relationship you know is wrong for you.

It’s fear that hurls insults at you when you contemplate living your adventure.

Fear is stealing your life.

Now most of the time you’ll hear people talk about “getting over” fear, or “coping” with fear.

Well, to heck with that.

Fear is like an assailant who sneaks up behind you and tries to choke the life out of you.

Should you “get over” or “cope” with this thug?

No.

You should kick it in the face.

There’s no point in being nice when it comes to fear. So here are some tips to help you go all ‘Krav Maga’ on your fear.

1. Attack your fear where it’s weak: Fear enjoys keeping you isolated. It likes knowing that you’re too terrified to explore new ideas or talk to friends or family about what you’re doing. But the very act of bringing whatever is scaring you into the light of day by very nature makes it less terrifying.

2. Use quick and powerful action: Sometimes you just have to take the leap, and once you’ve done it, it’s done. Fear has no more control over you because you’ve faced it and done whatever you needed to do despite it. So whether you’re jumping out of an airplane or volunteering for a project, sometimes once the door has opened there’s no turning back – and there’s no more room for fear.

3. Scare your fear: Fear has a way of keeping you small, and preventing you from living the big life you imagine. But if you dwell on the consequences of living a “small” life long enough, that might just scare you into action.

4. Try the belly flop: Sometimes doing something that scares you isn’t pretty. I think about the time I went biking with my brother. Well, I still have the scars to prove I did it. It wasn’t pretty. But that’s ok. I did it anyway.

5. React: Being afraid sometimes stunt-doubles as confusion. Because you’re so terrified, you can’t seem to gain clarity on what your next move should be. Should you quit? Should you stay? Should you start this new thing?  Trying to find the exact right move is so exhausting. So instead of being paralyzed by fear, do something – almost anything – as long as it will help you move forward.

6. Go crazy: If fear is trying to ruin your life, why are you just sitting there and taking it? Instead, fight like you mean it. Pull out all the stops. Pull some hair. Bite some fingers.  Find people to talk to, read a lot of books, do some visualization, meditate – do whatever you have to do to kill the fear and strengthen your resolve to move forward.

7. Simple is good: Because fear is so powerful, we sometimes expect the solution to the problem will be elegant and profound (like years of therapy followed by a huge a-ha moment and a cathartic cry). But sometimes the solution is simple. Sometimes it’s as straightforward as being distressed, but moving forward nonetheless.

8. Use your strengths: What’s going to help you win the fight with fear? Using your natural talents and abilities to propel you forward. If you’re a writer, journal about where you want to be. If you’re a runner, use the mental discipline you have. If you’re funny, use humor to take the situation less seriously. Use what you’ve got.

Fear is the bump in the night that keeps you frozen, unable to live the life that you want. But you don’t have to take it lying down. You can kick fear in the face and move on to whatever you dream of for yourself.

Some Amazing Comments

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Comments

  1. Jessica that was a great post. I thought you really uncovered new territory with number 7. The solution usually is simple, it just does not seem that way at the time usually.
    I always relate fear as being an adult version of when you were hiding under the covers as a child thinking something was going to get you…lol. Well, as we know that never touched us and fear won’t either…unless we let it.

    • James – It’s so true. I have a 5 year old (and a 2 year old), and she’s constantly afraid of witches and monsters at night. Just as I can see plainly that she’s got nothing to worry about, an older, wiser version of ourselves might recognize that our fears are actually a little bit silly. Sometimes we just need to find our teddy bears and move on! :)
      Jessica Sweet recently posted..How To Not Bomb An Informational Interview

  2. 7 and 8 resonate most with me – simple and strong! Sometimes we DO opt for the most elaborate solution, when perhaps the smallest step is all we need to take.

    My method of getting over fear is to simply get bored of it. After a while, I am sick and tired of listening to myself WHINE about something that I either have to take some action, or move onto something else!

    - Razwana
    Razwana recently posted..When your job does not involve a salary

  3. I like your fighting spirit here Jessica! Facing fear is something we MUST do if we’re ever to live the kind of fulfilling lives we’re all searching for.

    Fear is nothing more than a haze that obscures opportunity. It’s the unknown of what lies beyond. But that’s where you’ll find all the possibility. To avoid fear is to avoid the opportunity that accompanies it.

    That’s how we get stuck.

    Better to chase our fears than run from them.

    Cheers!
    Trevor recently posted..Death Is At Your Doorstep. How Will You Answer It?

  4. Great post Jessica,
    I like your idea about atacking your fears.
    In fact we ourselves are responsible for fuelling our fears and we alone can banish them to kingdom come.

    Its just like what that Red Indian told his chief “there are two dogs inside me at all times.There is a fearful dog, and there is a courageous dog .They always fight each other.Which ever dog wins stays on top and runs my heart .If the fearful dog wins he fills my heart with fear ,if the courageous dog wins he fills my heart with courage”. “So which dog wins most of the time my Brave?” the chief asked the young warrior.”The one I feed the most”,said the warrior.

    Thanks
    Mona
    richmiraclefiles recently posted..Channelise Your Thinking Process Towards Your Star Goals

  5. I believe that the fear of “what will everyone think?” holds me back. What happens if I fail? Will I end up on the street? I’m facing huge decisions right now and trying to rearrange my life in 30 days or less. But I realize it’s mostly fear that’s holding me back and if I don’t work through it, I will always be stuck.

    Thank you for this insightful post!
    Melissa Curran recently posted..Energy Shift

    • Melissa, the “what will everyone think” fear is tough. But it’s usually more about our own internal critic than it is about the actual thoughts our “everybodies”have. And if there’s real people in our lives that don’t support us, we probably shouldn’t give them so much power anyway. Good luck with your 30 day overhaul!!
      Jessica Sweet recently posted..Build Unshakable Self Confidence At Work

  6. Love that comment about the secret knowledge we’re searching for not actually existing. It’s all about HAVING THE COURAGE TO ACT AS IF WE HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE – Act without fear – powerful stuff Jessica.
    joe barnes recently posted..Why you’ll never ‘MAKE IT’ until you Learn this!

  7. Great article!

    Fear is the main reason that is stopping us from doing pursuing our deepest innermost dreams, from following our highest joy and from doing all the things we would like to.

    What I have found is that it is no reason to pay attention to our fears and instead choose to go for the things that we want to do anyway. Like your article says, when one day we are looking back at the life we have lived, we will not be worrying about the times we took actions and didn’t get what we wanted, but rather we will be miserable only for the times when we did not even try and when we just stayed at our comfort zone instead of pushing for the things that we truly wanted to do on the inside.

    Thanks again for sharing
    Martin Poldma recently posted..7 Good Reasons to Forgive Those, Who Have Hurt Us

    • Thanks Martin! I totally agree. We won’t regret trying and failing, but only the times we never tried at all. I think what we might regret most of all is the things we never even contemplated doing because we were so busy living with a fear mindset. I think the more we practice kicking our fear in the face, the more open we become to new possibilities!
      Jessica Sweet recently posted..Build Unshakable Self Confidence At Work

  8. What I’ve done over the years was turn my weaknesses into strengths. I’ve changed my lack of confidence and fixed the disease. Now my confidence is one of my greatest strengths. There are several others as well, but when there are things I used to be insecure about that I’ve taken into something I’m proud to display, it feels great.
    Vincent recently posted..How to Stop Worrying About Everything

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  1. [...] Jessica Sweet writes a great post for CYT on how to overcome being frozen by fear and move forward in your life.  [...]

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