How to Handle Fear (practical exercise included!)

fear Jul 27, 2022

Imagine there’s a lion approaching you in the jungle. What do you do?

Some answers I've heard (and had even crossed my own mind):

  • Stare it in the eyes and speak softly
  • Freeze
  • Run
  • Play dead
  • Climb a tree
  • Scream
  • Fight it
  • Take a pic

Or... you could simply stop imagining it. Re-read the question again. ;)

Fear of the lion in real life is vital - we love that fear that takes us from inaction to action. It's powerful and potentially useful in that sense. However, the fear that fills up my inbox and meditation requests isn't the one about lions, tigers, sharks or how to handle trains barreling at your face. The fear you want to overcome is in your mind. Most fear is in the mind. 

Roman stoic philosopher, Seneca says famously, “we suffer more in imagination than in reality.”

"We suffer more in imagination than in reality."

Re-read that too. 

When asked about fear, Indian spiritual teacher, Sadhguru asks us, “You're producing horror movies in your mind and you’re not even making money off of them. Why don’t you produce a love story? An action-thriller? It may not come true, but at least you enjoyed the film.” 

We live in so much unnecessary and unchecked fear. "Faith over fear" is helpful, but in my opinion, "presence over fear" is the real one. Be here now. You're safe. Look around. Yes, right now. Look around. Breathe. You're usually safe. More often than not. I know, it's hard to believe when our cortisol is pumping through our veins just from the thoughts running through our heads, but that's it: it's in your head. You're safe here.

For those of you that need a process, I get you. To live a life that's not controlled by fear, you must always put your fears under a microscope. Some may have merit, but 99% won’t. Here's a practical fear-filtering exercise:

Tim Ferriss’s Fear Setting Journal:

1. What if I…

  • Define (What's the fear?)
  • Prevent (What could you do to prevent it?)
  • Repair (If everything went wrong, what could you do/who could you reach out to help to fix it?)

2. What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success?

3. What is the Cost of Inaction?

  • 6 months from now...
  • 1 year...
  • 3 years...

And then: my favorite self-challenge: do one thing everyday that scares you. Fear is my favorite. In fact, the moment I take fear out of the shadows and label it a fear, the more excited I get to face it. Currently, I'm facing some social anxiety fears and am literally pumped (and still scared) about pushing my edges, striking up random convos with strangers, hosting community events, reaching out to old acquaintances, etc. I'm doing it because I'm an adrenaline junkie and also because it's the only way I can grow.

Facing your fears is the only way to grow. Be brave.

Reach out to me for a 1:1 if you need a game plan. This is my favorite place to play.

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