The fear mindset can be all consuming. It affects the way we live our lives and creates major obstacles, blocking us from reaching our full potential. This mindset is painfully debilitating, so I’m here to share with you some helpful tips to identify and overcome fear.
Living with the Fear Mindset
I want to share a deeply painful and confronting truth with you, something that I have battled with my entire life. From a very young age, the fear mindset had complete control over my life. I existed in a space of negativity where anxiety, fear and doubt influenced my every decision.
On the outside I appeared ‘normal’, I would smile and pretend that I had it all together, but on the inside my mind was in complete turmoil. I felt like a phony. I was putting on a brave front for the world, but in reality I was consumed with overwhelming shame and guilt.
When you exist in the fear mindset it is painfully restricting, you feel trapped, anxious and paranoid. Your perception of the world becomes masked by delusions and you basically feel like a victim of your own life. You close yourself off from the natural flow of life.
Healthy Fear vs Unhealthy Fear
Fear is a natural human response to protect us from life threatening danger, but there is a major difference between healthy fear and unhealthy fear. Unhealthy fear is perceived or imagined danger, it presents itself in the form of irrational thoughts and behaviours. And often feelings of guilt and shame arise as a result of this unhealthy fear.
Unfortunately, many of us are consumed by unhealthy fear which typically stems from childhood trauma or loss. Living with this fear causes us to develop negative coping mechanisms and patterns keeping us trapped in the vicious cycle of the fear mindset.
These fears can be constantly triggered in everyday life. If you’ve never had the opportunity to heal from past traumas, implement positive coping patterns and/or effective emotional regulation; then the fear mindset can quite easily dictate many aspects of your life. That is why it is important to learn to identify when fear is surfacing in your life.
Warning Signs to Identify the Fear Mindset
- Becoming easily overwhelmed or panicky
- Thought processes becomes irrational and scattered. You may find it difficult to make sense of things or unable to take in what other people are staying.
- Heat and/or heaviness arising in your chest and solar plexus
- Heart rate increases, feeling tense and anxious
- Voices in your mind become loud, overpowering and fear based
- Paranoia towards others e.g. feeling ‘trapped’, judged or wanting to escape a situation.
- Being reactive and making rash or careless decisions
- Becoming defensive
- Saying or doing things that feel out of character
- Falling into the victim mindset
- Obsessing over things of little importance
- Feeling restricted as if your world is closing in and becoming smaller
- Creating unnecessary conflict e.g. pushing others away by saying hurtful things.
- Unable to see the positive in situations, due to your mind filled with negative, defeatist and self-limiting thoughts.
Helpful Tips and Practices for Overcoming Fear
It can seem like an impossible task learning to identify and overcome fear. Although I have been able to overcome many aspects of the fear mindset; it still rears its ugly head from time to time. It takes practice, patience and awareness to identify fear based thoughts and stop them from ruling your life.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to magically dissipate the fear mindset from your life. But what I can promise you is this; if you begin to put the following tips into practice, fear will gradually lose its power and control over your life.
1. Shift your mindset
This is the most important point. By practicing this alone you will begin to eliminate much of the fear in your mind. The points listed above are clues as to when you are slipping back into the fear mindset. When you become aware of that shift in your mind, start by challenging those fearful thoughts.
When fearful thoughts arise for me, I feel like they are literally screaming at me inside of my head. I start by take some deep breaths and tell myself to calm down. After some time, I’m able to identify that I’m overreacting and begin to talk myself out of this state of panic.
I ask myself questions like, “Is this fear valid or is it irrational?” and “Am I responding from a place of inner wisdom or fear based thoughts?”
If you can stay with fear and challenge it’s validity, you begin to notice that irrational and fear based thoughts gradually subside.
Picture yourself talking to a distressed child, showing them kindness and compassion, helping them to reach a calm space. It’s the same thing really, what you’re actually doing is speaking with your inner child. You are allowing yourself to heal, to feel safe to overcome the fears that arise.
1. Asses the validity of the fear
Try to take a moment to pause and assess if the situation warrants the fear based attention you are giving it. Unless the situation is life threatening or harmful to yourself or others, most often fear has taken unnecessary control over you.
These fear based situations can be seemingly insignificant. But it’s the unconscious triggers from past traumas that can make it feel magnified. It’s just presented to you in different shapes and forms.
By pausing to assess the validity of the fear you take away some of its power. Practice rating the fear on a scale of one to ten, one being insignificant and ten being life threatening. Over time you will stop believing the intensity of your fears and realise that you can view them through the lens of opportunity and growth, rather than fear.
3. Acknowledge body sensations that arise
Fear causes tension in the body, increased heart rate and heat/heaviness in the solar plexus and heart chakras. It’s your body’s warning signal for perceived danger. Your body is asking you to pay attention to these sensations, that’s why they are arising.
Acknowledging these sensations takes the focus away from the fear. All you need to do is focus your awareness on your body, sit with the sensations and allow whatever needs to rise to surface. There may be an underlying trigger for your fear that needs to be released, or a wound that is asking to be healed. Just pay attention and see what arises, without judgement.
4. Don’t make fear based decisions
Often fear brings up a sense of urgency and impending doom, therefore we tend to make rash or careless decisions. When you are stuck in the fear mindset, your decisions are not aligned with your true nature, but the delusions of fear.
That’s why it’s so important to learn to pause, instead of diving into decisions that you will later come to regret. It may feel so tempting to react. I know, the voice inside your head is trying to convince you that this is life or death. But just remember, its not.
Nothing bad is going to happen if you take the time to calm yourself and hold off on fear based decision making. It’s very difficult at first. But with practice, pausing and taking space will allow you to break free of fear based reactions in many aspects of your life.
5. Practice patience
The key to successfully implementing these steps to identify and overcome fear is to practice patience. Freeing yourself from the fear based mindset takes time, and the more you practice, the easier it will get. Be kind to yourself and be proud that you are taking the steps towards breaking free of the fear based mindset.
What other tools, tips or practices can you share to help others identify and overcome fear in their life? Share your comments below.
Related Article: How to Overcome the Fear of Not Enough.