Fear prevents us from pursuing that which we feel is risky, even if such pursuits are what we see as true to ourselves. Fear paralyzes and prevents us from experiencing life at its highest level of wholeness. It holds us back. To properly transcend the chains of fear (which are often perpetuated by self-conscious and delusional behavior) there are some basic things we should remember.
1. Fear relies on your perspective.
Jerry Seinfeld has a joke about public speaking. He quotes a statistic he read, which stated that the average person fears public speaking more than death. In other words, at a funeral, they would rather be in the coffin than give the eulogy. This is a reminder of the loss of perspective fear can impose upon us. You can only fear that of which you are convinced is a threat. Changing your mind allows for relief from fear.
2. Meditation gives you the tools to conquer fear.
Even five or ten minutes of meditation daily can improve your response to fear. Meditate on that which you fear. Let the reasons behind the fear be revealed and contemplated. Dig deep without overwhelming yourself. Meditation helps us realize that fear is often not grounded in reality. You can get over it with diligence and mindfulness.
3. Empathy destroys fear.
Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone you imagine to be fearless, or at least unconcerned with whatever particular fear you find is holding you back. Try to understand their microcosm of experience, their unique individual perspective. What is it ideologically that allows them to not fear X or Y? What adaptations in your own thinking can you allow for that will get rid of your fear?
4. Taking action will set you free.
The hardest part about conquering fear is the psychologically-inflicted torment we perpetuate upon ourselves every time fear prevents action. Build yourself up enough that you allow yourself to take risks. Confront what you fear. It will not be easy, but fear’s worst enemy is its own reflection in a mirror. Face fear and it will disappear. If the emotion holds you back from doing something you truly want to do, work towards mindfully pursuing what you fear. This will help you realize it has no power over you.
5. Focus on the present.
Most of our anxieties are imposed by the haunting past or looming future. Practice being comfortable with whatever you have to deal with in the present. As you focus less on external circumstances and learn to simply be in the now, fears will fade away into the background. In the present, we have very little to be afraid of. Future expectations diminish and concerns about past actions become irrelevant. Do what you can with what you have, right now.
6. Write it down.
The subjectivity of thought can magnify our fears and make them seem more imposing than they really are. Convert your fears from ideas into words; contextualize them. Write down what it exactly it is that you are afraid of and ways you believe you can work towards eliminating your fear. In organizing your ideas on paper, you’ll find a level of clarity unachievable exclusively in your own head.
7. You’re not alone.
We all have our fears, hopes and dreams. We all slip up and focus more on the past and future than the present. Find a valuable support system for overcoming your fears. Build an exchange in which you and someone else help one another psychologically overcome that which you are afraid of. Learn to communicate your insecurities with others and, in articulating your fears, you will be taking a step towards eliminating them.