5 Ways to Deal with Fear

Your fears behind you


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The only thing to fear is fear” said Franklin D. Roosevelt, a great American President who was disabled by polio. If we can battle with fear and win – then we are indeed well on the way to securing the richest blessings that life can offer. Fear can be fought, and can be conquered by all.

Our fears vary tremendously from one person to the next. Some are vague and indeterminate. Others are all too painfully clear and real. Some are of an intensely personal nature – fear of some particular individual or imminent circumstances in one’s own domestic life. Some are wider, and may indeed embrace the whole of mankind – fear for example of nuclear warfare.

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Whatever our fears may be, they have much in common, and the method of facing them and conquering them is broadly the same. Here then are five tested ways to deal with fear:

1. Face your fears:

Those who say glibly, “Put your fears behind you” do not understand very much either about fear, or about human nature. To try airily to dismiss your fears is not only well nigh impossible but also highly dangerous. The effect of the attempt may be only to drive the fear more firmly into the subconscious.

2. Assess your fear:

When fear is faced frankly and openly, recognizing the fact that we are afraid and refusing to pretend that we are not, then we are in a better position to see exactly what is the nature and force of our fear.

Some fears will indeed seem to have been not worth worrying about. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, when a child, with the dread sense that a bat was flying wildly about my bedroom. Fortunately a light switch was close at hand. The bat was in fact only a moth.

That is typical of many of our fears. Imagination magnifies our fears until we examine them in the cold light of reason. This is why worries and anxieties which seem so formidable at three o’clock in the morning fall into a more reasonable perspective when we face them the following day. This process of assessment, of trying to see our fears for what they really are, may have the effect of dispelling them altogether.

Some of our fears will  be real enough. Our examination of them will only lead us not  to dismiss them but to take appropriate action.

3. Share your fear:

Once the reality and nature of certain fears are recognized, there is often a good deal to be said for telling someone else about  them. One level of this process of sharing is that of some intimate friendship.

Those who are ministers, doctors, psychiatrists or social workers know from their own experience how mere listening can be of tremendous help to those whose minds are haunted by fears. Many a fear seems to lose its grip because  it has been put into words publicly.

This sharing may need to be on a different level from that of mere friendship. At times expert guidance and professional help are needed. For example, some people carry about with them a secret fear that they are suffering from some incurable disease. The fear may be groundless, but only a medical expert can say something authoritatively. A fear shared is a fear halved.

4. Disable your fear:

Ralph Waldo Emerson truly said: “Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain”. One man tells how for months after passing his driving test, he never ventured in his car into the centre of the city where he lived. One day he had two calls to make at opposite sides of the busiest part of the city. The obvious thing was to go through the city from one point to the other. Time was short and this was an additional spur. But over all this was the sudden realisation that once he had done  it he had conquered his fear not only for that once but for all time. So it proved.

To do the thing we fear to do, and to do it now is the surest way of disabling and disarming it.

5. Replace your fear with confident, positive thoughts:

Nature abhors a vacuum. This is true in the mental realm as well as in the physical. True,  for rest and relaxation our minds need to be cleared of tense, irritating, disturbing thoughts. But the process is better thought of as one of replacing rather than of emptying. Disturbing thoughts are to be driven out by filling the mind with thoughts of peace and tranquillity.

This is what is sometimes referred to as “the exclusive power of a new affection”. The mind can only normally cope with one idea at a time. Thus, if a thought strong, positive, confident enough can be put into the mind, it will drive out weaker, disturbing thoughts, and take possession of the mind.

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