How to handle fear – strategies that work

 <img src="Heights.jpg" alt="Heights" width="300" height="200">
Fear of heights

Overcoming fear is a skill anyone can acquire

“How to” columns are often pat and preachy, so I shall avoid minimising your fears by ready- made answers. It will require work. You have lived with your fears for a long time, and they are part of you. To debrief a set of beliefs takes time and awareness, and the true desire to stop being crippled by fear. Some fears are legitimate, and are healthy warning mechanisms when there is real danger, but when you justify holding onto those fears when the danger is absent, we enter the realm of neurosis. Other fears are disproportionate and can be called phobias.

Fearlessness is inhuman, and can be found in psychopaths and saints. To be guided by fear only is paranoid, and the motivating force behind much political evil. It is also the daily reality of people that are powerless and preyed upon. For those of us somewhere in between, there are ways of dealing with fear.

Face it

A feeling or a thought may not be the truth, but it is nevertheless true for you. Often we are embarrassed to admit (even to ourselves) to being afraid of something others handle with equanimity, so we avoid the experience and it can ruin one’s life. Confession really is good for the soul. Before on can confront a problem one has to acknowledge its existence. Avoid self pity, but do talk about it, write it down, or define it. The nebulous cloud of fears swirling in the mind keeps the fears shapeless. Once written down or articulated, it has a manageable shape. Then one can look it in the eye and say, “I can observe you and keep you in your place”.

Where do you come from gremlin / tokoloshe?

Once identified, one can try to find out how one came by this fear. Was it early childhood conditioning, a nasty experience, or perhaps a generational pattern we are perpetuating? Maybe trans-generational trauma is at work. (There is a growing body of research that posits that we carry negative things that happened to previous generations). The unreason of some fears may be because they are not personal, but some family or cultural heritage. Not everybody can access therapy, or pay a life coach, but the roots of fears sometimes become apparent once we have revealed the fear to ourselves and a diary, or a friend.

Is it a valid fear NOW?

For a long time I resisted reading the Eckhart Tolle book, The Power of Now, and was quite annoyed by everybody spouting it as some sort of superstitious mantra against the evil eye, but I have to admit it is indeed very practical in combating daily challenges. Fears may have been valid at some time, but most are created by the imagination. Right in this minute, is the fear warranted? You will find that mostly it is not. A very liberating exercise is to thank Destiny, God, the Universe/ my ingenuity/a moment of sanity/ my loved ones/ my intellect/Grace/my courageous self, (whatever you believe in) for the fact that I do not have to be afraid in this moment.

Be pro-active

Action is required. Do something: Ridicule is very useful- draw a snake with a silly facial expression and toothache if your fears have the shape of a snake. Sit in your wardrobe and hold the door shut, in the knowledge that you are in control of the door, if claustrophobia is your problem. Gradual desensitization works for some; others prefer more confrontational techniques, but both require courage. Courage to act, not lack of fear, builds strength of character. Turn your fear of drowning into a story or painting – art has always dealt with subconscious fears and desires. Re-write the positive outcome of situations you fear, in as many ways as you can. Help others with their fears, as this will bring perspective to yours.

There are hundreds of techniques ranging from hypnosis to EFT, Neuro-Linguistic Programming to diet, but the above is available to us all.


Know that whatever front people present, everybody is afraid of the unknown, failure and change. These are the intangibles that remind us that our sense of control is an illusion. But one has to be mommy bird as well as baby bird in the nest of adulthood: If mommy never pushes baby out of the safe nest, he will never learn to fly.



Article originally posted on and reposted here with permission.