Learning how to stop living with fear is the most important initiative we can take.
The anxiety we feel interferes with our quality of life and does not allow us to function as we should. Personally and professionally, we are handcuffed.We miss out on jobs, social bonding and activities, travel, and intimacy that we should have. Fear is crippling and will prevent us from living the fulfilling life we deserve.
“Doubt and fear are the great enemies of knowledge, and he who encourages them, who does not slay them, thwarts himself at every step.”
There was a time when I struggled with anxiety and fears. It finally came to a point that I decided I needed to learn how to stop living in fear. I had missed out on many opportunities in life. Symbolically, I looked myself in the mirror and told myself it had to stop.
The research process was long and I didn’t know where to start. The social anxiety kept me from joining groups or asking the right people for help. I struggled for many years to admit this to myself, it was that much harder to share this with others.
The greatest realization I’ve had is that I don’t believe anybody ever truly conquers their fears.
You just learn the tools and skills on how to deal with it. Think of it as practicing to become a very good swimmer.
You can still drown, right?
Once I realized that my fears would never go away and I was just learning skills to overcome, my emotional growth exploded exponentially.
Like the analogy I used for drowning.
- If my fears are my inability to swim how much can I enjoy the beach?
- Can I enjoy pools, boating, or any water sports?
- Metaphorically using the beach to represent our life, how much more enjoyable are those activities if you know how to swim?
Below I’ll go over the steps I took and continue to work on. Hopefully, these can help or provide a springboard for your own journey to learn how to stop living in fear.
- Understanding Fear Is Not Real
- Start Practicing A Martial Art Or Begin A Fitness Routine
- Find Mentors That Speak To You
- Find Your Spiritual Center
Fear Is Not Real
One of the strongest concepts we can understand is psychic equivalence. Psychic equivalence is a primitive mind state.
Our inability to make a distinction between thoughts in our mind and our external surroundings. What we think in our mind we assume to be true.
If your child thinks the boogeyman is under his bed, he believes the boogeyman really is under his bed. To share one of my honest fears that relate.
I have always worried about something reaching out and grabbing my foot as I would get into bed. This was a fear that began when I was a child that carried over into adulthood. No matter how foolish I knew it was and I knew that it wasn’t true, I had to focus on repressing that belief.
This can be a common reality in people who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. They are convinced they are actually in the situation of the original trauma. They suffer a complete loss of perspective between contents in their mind and the reality around them.
Another example of psychic equivalence we can see as adults, is on our dreams. We temporarily lose the awareness between the reality of our external world and the thoughts happening in our mind.
Start Practicing A Martial Art Or Begin A Fitness Routine
Exercise and physical fitness has been scientifically proven to alleviate anxiety and depression. Even from moderate exercise, endorphins are produced and released in your body.
Endorphins are a chemical in our body that transmit electrical signals within our nervous system. Our perception of pain is reduced by endorphins activating the opiate receptors in our brain. Structurally very similar to morphine, endorphins also bring about feelings of happiness and well being.
Minor adjustments to your diet can have help. Simply adding Curcumin as an example, may have an anxiolytic effect because of its ability to influence levels of serotonin and dopamine.
Practicing Martial Arts has long been a successful path for people to gain confidence. You get the benefit of exercise but also structure and discipline to follow, and goals to achieve. The confidence you cultivate through the Arts will also help in learning how to stop living in fear.
Not all Martial Arts are the same and each of us is an individual. Research and find a Martial Art that fits you and the path you want to be on. In a previous article I wrote here, I provide a brief synopsis of a few popular Martial Arts. I repeat this often, but take advantage of the free trials and classes that all schools offer and find the right one for you.
Find Mentors That Speak To You
Listening to life coaches, “self help gurus”, reading, and listening to spiritual journals has helped me immensely. An easy suggestion I found to get started was to use my iPhone to download podcasts and listen to them in my car via Bluetooth. You can also find many videos on YouTube as well.
I start my day like this whenever possible. If I don’t need to drive anywhere in the morning I play the podcasts through my headphones as I stretch to “wake up” my body and mind for the day.
Below I list some recommendations of my personal favorites.
Most of them will have books you can get, YouTube channels, and podcasts to follow. You can also use their names as a reference point for searching other individuals who might best fit your needs. I’ve attached links to their books and websites when available.
Some additional books to add to your resources. These two I’ve previously written articles on, The Book of Five Rings & The Art of War. Another Martial Arts related book is Hagakure which I’ve found to be a great resource.
Other books I’d recommend:
Hardcore Self Help: F**k Anxiety not to be confused with Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life
Soar: The Breakthrough Treatment For Fear Of Flying It deals with the fear of flying but outlines an approach to take to many phobias and fears.
Find Your Spiritual Center
Most of us have our own perception of spirituality. Normally it revolves around a sense of connection to something greater than ourselves. It is our own unique personal connection to divinity. We may share the same religion or spiritual path with our neighbor, but our spiritual relationship will be distinctive to us.
Spirituality is an expansive concept that can continue to grow as we search for a meaning in life and ourselves. It’s an infinite learning experience of perpetual growth and understanding that will never end.
Having a spiritual base also provides countless benefits towards physical and mental well being.
Forgiveness, a practice reflected by most traditions of spirituality has been shown through modern science to have numerous health benefits.
- A longer life span (18% reduction in mortality rate)
- Lowered blood pressure
- Improved immunity
- Better cardiovascular health.
There are many avenues you can search to find your spiritual base. You can revisit and strengthen a more traditional faith you grew up with. Also, you can explore the hundreds of alternative healing methods and spiritual approaches that are available.
If you already have a spiritual path begin reinforcing it. Search for the root of your belief.
I’m not a psychologist, a self help guru, or anything like that. Struggling for many years with unwarranted fears handicapped me from living life to its fullest capacity.
My goal with this article was to share the critical steps I took, and continue to take everyday. This is how I learned how to stop living in fear and hopefully some of these steps can help someone else.
If you struggle with any fear or anxiety please share it in the comments.
If you’ve taken steps to stop or manage your fear please let us know what you’ve done.