What You May Not Know About Overcoming Fear

Table of Contents

Fear is arguably the most primal of all the negative emotions faced by mankind. It is also the one that is the most insidious and pervasive of all the negative emotions.

If you were to take a minute out of your routine and ask yourself how many times you did not pursue your heart because you were scared of something, the answer would surprise you.

In our lives, the times when we do or do not do something out of fear are innumerable. Be it the bigger choices of life or the smaller day today confusions, almost everything is subtly tinged with our sense of fear. This is why it is quintessential to know more about our fears and also to find out how to overcome them.

Table of Contents

What is Fear?

It is one of the few basic human emotions  that everyone faces in their lifetime. Its purpose is to alert us from a potential threat (physical or emotional), as a part of survival response. It originates in mind and leads to immediate physiological reaction. When we experience fear there are multiple changes in our body like our heart rate goes up, we start breathing quicker, our palms start feeling sweaty, we may experience tightness in our body and so on.

Also, depending on the degree of aversion the types of fear may vary from mild anxiety to episodes of terror. Anxiety is when fear becomes persistent to the point of eventually paralyzing your inner self.

Majorly, all human fears can be categorized into the 5 categories:

  • Fear of death is the most basic fear Eg: anxiety that creeps in when you board a plane.
  • Fear of mutilation of any body part Eg: losing a body part which manifesting in the fear of wild animals, snakes, spiders etc.
  • Loss of autonomy i.e. the control over your choices both physically and in your relations. Eg: Claustrophobia
  • Fear of separation from your loved ones or losing respect and value in the eyes of people around Eg: Fear of abandonment, fear of loved ones dying
  • Fear of humiliation or the threat of loss of integrity or any assault on ones ego, also called “Ego Death”

Most fears can ultimately be traced back to one or more of these categories. For instance, fear of success could be a fear of change which in turn could stem from the possibility of being lonely i.e. fear of separation from loved ones or losing one’s freedom/ privacy i.e loss of autonomy. Other types of fears that seem irrational, that are called phobias could stem from a fear of mutilation eg: fear of spiders.

If we can understand  which of these 5 categories our fear lies in, we can understand ourselves better and also overcome whatever is blocking us from realising our fullest potential.

Why to overcome fear?

A certain amount of fear is necessary for survival, whether its crossing the road safely, staying away from potentially threatening objects or completing your work right before the deadline so as to not be fired. However, it becomes a problem when it is excessive or when it’s persistent i.e. when it’s

around even when it no longer serves a functional purpose but rather impedes functionality. A certain amount of fear can also improve performance in an examination, the stress hormones can help us be mentally alert and think and write faster. However, here too, balance is key – excess fear could impede performance rather than boosting it.

The constant release of stress hormones in our body, can over time, lead to development of chronic fatigue syndrome, a burnout and even depression. It can also accelerate the onset of chronic health conditions like PCOD, diabetes, hypertension, chronic heart disease etc.

Due to the extremely fast pace of our lives and us being cut off from our primal instincts, we experience fear in a manner in which it’s not conducive but rather detrimental to our growth.

We may find that at every level, fear interrupts the processes of our brain negatively thus hindering our rational and ethical actions, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and abrupt actions, which significantly deters our personal growth.

Fear has the potential of changing life paths of people by defining our choices. It binds us to constant pain. Thus, it becomes important for us to overcome our fears and make choices for our life long happiness.

It constantly reflects our darker/shadow personality. In fear of something we tend to deny our shadow personality and tend to showcase a “made-up” but ideal face. This constant suppression of true self out of fear causes stress and further anxiety.

Living in fear impacts both our present as well as our future. Once you have decided to fight your fears and have resolved towards a better life the next step is to know how to do it.

How to overcome fear?

Fear means that you are not living a life of ‘what is (reality)’ but of ‘what if (imagination)’. Since most of the fears we face are not rooted in a real or an immediate threat and are often a figment of our imagination. Therefore, they can be dealt with by facing them boldly. But to reach that stage where we can face our fears without being as overwhelmed, we may need to build capacity and develop certain coping skills following few important steps, viz.


The very first step towards overcoming your fear is to acknowledge it. Many of us live our lives in a state of ignorance towards our fears. So, to overcome your fears, we must first acknowledge their existence and then try to understand their source and how it hampers your life. This will likely require some soul searching and an increased self-awareness.

Sit and Relax

As an immediate measure, if you feel anxious or terrified of something, just sit down for the moment and take deep breaths. Techniques like Pranayama, progressive body relaxation, working on our chakras can help taper the physiological aspects of fear. However, until we work on our thoughts, underlying beliefs and our emotional awareness, the fear is likely to return again. That said, breathwork can still be a good second step.

Try to understand what purpose it could be trying to serve

As per the older schools of psychotherapy, fear or anxiety indicates that one’s psyche is trying to grow and expand. Hence it may be trying to alert you to certain shadow aspects of your personality such as over-attachment to ego and it’s defence mechanisms, toxic relationships etc. For instance, the Fear of your spouse cheating on you could highlight your own insecurities, your own fear of abandonment or the fact that something is amiss in the relationship like an absence of honest and authentic dialogue, true intimacy etc. It could then be a call to work on oneself as well as the relationship or in certain cases, walk out of the relationship (if it’s toxic). One of the best way to take up this exercise, can be through writing down our fears and to try and make sense of them by seeing where they originate from.

Face it

This is the single most important step in overcoming one’s fear. The therapies that involve working on phobias also work on the same principle of gradually increasing our exposure to the “scary” stimulus. By facing our fears, we dampen the effect they have on us which in turn helps improve our confidence and strengthens our will power. With greater willpower, we are better able to face more of our fears.

Sometimes, we may end up building unreal scenarios in our minds so much so that a small fear may look humongous. By facing it and breathing through it in the moment, you may realise eventually how inconsequential it really was.

Remember your resilience

In this journey, you should remind yourself of the inner power or resilience that you have. We tend to think that only a certain type of people have all the resilience in the world while we were somehow not as endowed in that department. However, inner strength, resolve, will power are kind of like muscles, the more you engage with them the better they get. And everyone can improve their resilience, no matter where you start.

To do this you can think of some instance in the past when you were fearful yet you were able to handle the situation with courage.

This too shall pass

Remind yourself that no situation, no trouble is permanent. This time too will pass and will bring a better time. This helps one to gain more confidence and helps us get out of a certain frame of mind.

You are not alone

Stay Hopeful

A better life calls for us to strive harder, especially when it comes to working on oneself. This means that instead of giving in to your fears, keep the hope alive and look for solutions. You need to remember that most problems in life have a solution and even if there isn’t an obvious way to resolve it in the 3D, there are ways of coming out of it by tapping into psychological resources. Overcoming fear is not a linear process. You may make long strides initially and encounter a new trigger one day that could seemingly set you back in your journey. Instead of feeling like you haven’t made any progress (which is a lie), know that this is how personal development works. It’s perfectly okay, to take 10 steps forward and 5 steps backward in your journey. The key is to remain hopeful in your journey. Furthermore, appearance of new triggers can also be a good sign – a sign that you have successfully dealt with the old ones and are ready to face new challenges.

Take help

Recognize your achievements

You must recognize your baby steps in the direction of overcoming fear. Every achievement matters and must be acknowledged by you. It provides a positive start towards the next step in the process and gradually you will find yourself getting where you expect yourself to.

We all live in some or the other fear. It is but natural to have something that scares you. But with that, one must always remember that most of our fears are nothing but a product of our imagination and our imagination is something that we can, over time, learn to control by developing certain psychological tools, coping skills and most importantly, a resolve to face our fears .

We do not need to dismiss all your fears, after all it is here to protect you. It is ok to experience fear from time to time but when it starts limiting our options, it is time to have a good look at it.

Life starts feeling richer and  more flavourful once we decide to live it to the fullest by overcoming the fears within us. The mere intent to overcome our fears is the first step towards a better life- a happier life.


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