Can you ever overcome fear, completely?

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE All of us have fears. I have them for sure. We fear different things – some of us fear being poor, some fear being attacked, some fear failure and societal rejection, some fear losing someone else (family, friends). There is a lot of literature out there telling you how to become fearless, how you can achieve a higher state of mind and truly achieve a state of Nirvana.
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Photo by Faruk Tokluou011flu on
I disagree with some of that. Fear is a natural response to circumstances we do not want. To put it simply:
  1. You fear something when you don’t want something external to happen to you
  2. Fear is different from anger. Anger is when you want to do something to someone.
  3. Fear is about you realizing that you do not have control over what others can do to you.
  4. Fear is when you realize others may want things from you that you don’t want to give
  5. Fear is when you realize you are not as powerful to protect yourself when attacked- emotionally, sexually, physically or spiritually.

Understanding fear requires a few simple truths:

  • There are a million things that you have right now – friends, family, material possessions, documents, your very identity.
  • There are lots of people who don’t have these things
  • Some of the people who don’t have these things will try to take them away from you, either without your knowledge (stealing) or with your knowledge (attacking). Stealing could refer to relationships as well (such as dumping you without notice), just not possessions. Attacking could refer to others not liking what you do (living your own life) and trying to take it away from you (controlling you)
  • Some of the time, you will be able to spot them stealing and recover what they are trying to take. Some of the time, you will be able to defend yourself against attacks.
  • But some of the time, you won’t be able to prevent others from taking what is yours (your emotional independence, your possessions, your fundamental rights), either silently or forcefully.

That. Is. Okay.

You can’t stop others eyeing what you have. You can never stop others acting against you.

You might be able to fight them off, or escape, but there will always be new people that pop up eyeing what you are and what you have, and trying to possess you (as a person) or take over your possessions.

There is a lot you do not know. The only thing you can ever know is what is happening to you right now.

You can’t know what will happen to you a minute from now…the air-conditioner in your car might catch fire, two of your car tires may explode, a thief may enter your house as you lie asleep…maybe not now, but exactly 5 minutes after you drift into unconsciousness. Your workplace may be hiding that it is actually bankrupt and you may be laid off within 2 days.

The thing is, you don’t know what is going to happen within he next hour, or even minute. The only thing you can respond to is what is happening to you right now.

Understanding our mind

So what can you do? How do we cope? That requires us to understand how we actually think and make a few mental shifts:

  • If you are always afraid, you will never actually relax in a restaurant or a picnic. By even going out, you are assuming that your house will be safe for the next hour. You make assumptions…based on probability.
  • If you are always afraid, you will never know how to react, or whether you will know how to react when the time comes. You might invest in learning new skills to protect yourself – physically (self-defense) and emotionally (confrontation management, negotiation)- you do so because you assume that while you are learning these new skills, no one will attack you. We assume safety when we are weaker because we focus more on learning than protection. We prioritize progress over security.

There is a lot we do not know,

  • About what others will do to us
  • About how we will react and what we will do about it

The Way Out

The answer is not finding the perfect solution, but accepting the imperfection of it all:

Assume a probability mindset

  • Sometimes you will be comfortable if your fears have a 50% probability of coming true (Minor Fears)
  • Sometimes you will be comfortable only when your fears have a 20% probability of coming true (Major fears)

Look forward

  • Ask: What can I do next about what is happening to me right now
  • Ask: What can I do next to make sure I reduce the probability of my past bad events repeating?

Trust your instincts

  • Our subconscious sends us signals about dangers, listen to your gut
  • Develop a larger picture of the world.
  • Everything bad that happens today will lead to something good far down the line.
  • Bad experiences lead to good judgment. Good judgment leads to good future experiences.

See yourself as separate from the event.

  • In every scenario, you will always want things one way, others will always want something different.
  • When something happens to you, analyze why you were unable to predict it. Ask why your soul was unprepared to guide you, and teach your soul. See mistakes as a lack of education, not as flaws in your character.
  • Blaming yourself doesn’t work. It is just that you can’t see the world for what it is. Invest time and energy in understanding reality better.

Fear is good, only if directed to action in the moment.

  • But when you are unable to act, fear acts like a car with its engine idling. It will simply burn up your energy without taking you anywhere.
  • Decide to be efficient – step outside your mind. Don’t criticize your mind but understand the inefficiency of its fear. Ignore your mind if you can’t act right now. A barking dog may indicate danger, but don’t waste time calming the dog, either get a gun, or get out of the situation.

Action is the only antidote to fear. If you can’t act, listen to your mind and make a note to learn how to act if your fear comes true.

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