Don’t Let Fear Spook You: How to Channel It for Good
What are you afraid of?
Even if you don’t have a phobia of spiders, or heights, or confined spaces, we all still have fears. Most people are scared of death, pain, and failure, to name a few. In fact, those fears drive a lot of our actions and choices, even if we don’t consciously realize it.
The important thing, though, isn’t whether or not you’re scared of something. It’s how you address those fears and how they affect your life. If you channel it correctly, fear can actually be a useful tool for self-preservation, motivation, and growth.
Recognize which of your fears are useful.
Think about the things you’re scared of, and whether they really warrant the fear. For most people, the ultimate fear is death. Most of us also fear something happening bad to a loved one.
But what about smaller and less meaningful things? A fear of being laughed at, gossiped about, or seen as a failure? Rather than serving a truly useful function, these fears often hold you back from reaching your potential.
Analyze how you respond to fear.
It’s not only the fears themselves that may or may not be useful. It’s also how we respond to them. For example, the fear of death might lead you to look both ways before crossing the road – and that’s a good thing. But if it stops you from getting on a plane, trying a new sport, or going in the ocean, you might be giving your fear too much control.
Let go of things you can’t control.
So many common fears are things that are highly unlikely and that we have little to no control over. Think about natural disasters, plane crashes, fires, terrorism, and disease. But the more we can internalize that the rarity of these occurrences and accept that we’re not in control of them, the less power these fears will have over us.
Harness your fear of failure.
The fear of failure can hold you back from taking risks and going after your dreams. But when harnessed for good, it can help propel you toward your goals.
Not wanting to fail may give you the motivation to work harder when you feel like slacking off. It can push you to keep trying when you want to give up. It might even encourage you to seek help when you need it.
Recognize that growth comes from facing fear.
Another way you can harness the power of fear – any fear – is by facing it. Doing something you’re scared of will push you out of your comfort zone. It will empower you and give you a sense of accomplishment. It’ll help you grow as a person.
A meditation practice can also help you gain control of your fears, no matter what you’re afraid of. Meditation helps us become less reactive and less anxious, which is important for remaining steady in the face of fear.
By harnessing fear for good, you’ll be able to keep growing and open yourself to new experiences. But even just the act of reflecting on your fears will help you get to know yourself better. And that’s a worthy goal in itself.
About the Author
Jen is a freelance writer, blogger, and yoga teacher who left her office job in Boston to travel the world with her husband. She previously worked in international development and academic research, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda. Some of her biggest passions include promoting responsible and mindful travel and helping her students develop their personal yoga practice.