Strategies for Dealing With Fear

Most of us worry about something. Some people worry about a lot of things.

In my opinion, unchecked fear is incredibly destructive. The folks I admire most in this world are those who have figured out how to control or eliminate their fears. Alternately, we all know people (perhaps even ourselves) who are ruled by their fears and worries to the extent that they can’t grow as human beings.

So how do you deal with your fears?

My latest strategy for mitigating fear and worry is a variation on something I read in Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:

I simply assume that I am going to die within the next few hours. Then I think about whether that really scares me or not. When I realize that death isn’t nearly as bad as it’s made out to be, that it is something I’m willing to accept, I then think about the fact that it isn’t likely to happen. Since I’m willing to accept death but it isn’t likely to occur anytime soon, I might as well enjoy life as much as I can. That means not stressing out over things; not letting thoughts of “Oh my God, what if…?” creep in. It doesn’t mean I live the decadent life of a wastrel. I simply try to live in the way that makes me most happy. That means cherishing certain relationships, pursuing achievements, living a healthy lifestyle, stopping to smell the roses, etc.

I am normally a nervous flier. I have spoken with some of you who share the same fear. During my most recent plane flight, using the strategy I described here, I felt calm and relaxed. Slept like a baby most of the way.

Anyone else willing to share their own strategy for dealing with fear and worry?

Booze and Valium or Xanax does the trick for me. No pain, no worries.

Seriously, I guess I just don’t really go for “what ifs” … unless they involve naked and oiled supermodels knocking on my bedroom door.

If ever I do get such a moment, its enough for me to say to myself “it’ll happen or it won’t. I’ll deal with it if and when.” It helps to have a low intellect and a dullard’s imagination. :wink:

I have learned that having faith in Jesus and God allows me freedom from my fears. And actually practicing faith has reduced my stress to virtually zip. Reading the Bible, and praying for others more than myself also works in eliminating fear and worry.

Bottom line is that when you have attachment to an outcome, or how that outcome should manifest, one will have to grapple with fear and worry…

I don’t deal with a lot of fear, as I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about the future, and when I do it is usually in a manner of planning, not worrying.

I’m pretty pragmatic, and when I think “What’s the worst that could happen?” The answers I give myself are clear and realistic. I just took the first part of scuba certification and thought to myself as I went under the water for the first time, “If I choke, or inhale a lungfull of water, I can stand up; or the two cpr qualified instructors will probably save me.”

That was good enough for me.

I don’t have a fear of death (more like an excited curiousity), and I think that’s what helps the most. I mean, I would prefer not to burn to death or drown…but that’s just the process by which I could die…and therefore just speculation. That and I don’t do things that would normally threaten my life, aside from driving.

As for day to day fears…what’s the point? Stay alert and watch the road. Take nothing that other people should do for granted.

Peace

Faith, trust, acceptance. All of these go along way in dealing with fear.
Karma and the Wheel have helped me also.

[quote]Instant Karma’s gonna get you,
Gonna knock you right on the head,
You better get yourself together,
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead, [/quote]

You’re a worry jd. Hey, we have emoticons back. :unamused:

I’d have to say boredom more than anything else as a source of fear.

[quote=“jdsmith”]

I don’t have a fear of death (more like an excited curiousity), and I think that’s what helps the most.

As for day to day fears…what’s the point? Stay alert and watch the road. Take nothing that other people should do for granted.

Peace[/quote]

Good stuff, here jd. I too am curious about the afterlife, and having a belief in it makes it easy to accept death. Without getting too deeply into personal spiritual beliefs, let me just say that I’m convinced that life really isn’t as much of a big deal as we make it out to be.

I agree with you that simply doing your best (if you feel like doing your best–it’s also okay not to) and then not worrying about the rest is a great way to go about life. That’s the way one of my personal gurus goes about life, and I’ve never seen him have a nervous moment in over 30 years of association.

[quote]When I realize that death isn’t nearly as bad as it’s made out to be[/quote] :noway:

I can’t think of anything worse that could happen. I don’t believe in an afterlife. When you’re dead you’re dead and that’s it. Game over. From that perspective, death is a lot worse than some people make it out to be.

I guess it would help to have faith in something other than yourself. It seems to work for other people, but I’m all I’ve got. But I’m not particularly worried by the thought of dying. It has happened yet, and I’m getting smarter so the chances of it happening soon should be actually receeding. Actually, it’s not something I envisage happening for a very long time so it’s a bit of a moot point really.

The nice thing about having faith in yourself is that, once you get the hang of it, you start to believe in positive outcomes. Weather a little adversity and you become more able to deal with problems in the future. Knowing that you have the ability to survive, and even to prevail, does away with the fear.

Fear comes from insecurity. If you believe that everything will work out OK, either because someone is looking after you or because you can look after yourself, then you don’t have anything to worry about.

On the other hand, fear is useful - up to a point. We are the descendants of animals that were afraid of falling out of trees, afraid of being eaten by bigger animals, afraid of dying. That’s why they survived. The ones who were too stupid to be afraid were not usually survivors.

Intelligence allows us to conquer fear too. I like JD’s scuba example. You can often conquer a fear of flying by learning to fly an aeroplane and understanding how it works. It’s not the flying that’s scary any more than it’s the going underwater. (Unless they’re part of the same experience.) It’s the feeling of not understanding your environment.

This is different than, for instance, being afraid as the ground jumps up to hit you and understanding perfectly well that you’re going to die. That’s a specific fear of an identifiable threat, rather than a non-specific fear of the unknown.

I disagree, Loretta. My new found athiesm has actually subdued my fear of death. If there is nothing more afterwards, what is there to fear? I mean I cna think of a billion worse things to happen.
Well, it is somewhat doubtful that I can think of a million things at all…

The fact that there’s nothing more. Ceasing to exist is the worst thing that can happen to you because there’s no coming back from it. That’s the point.

If you have faith in your ability to make things work out then you don’t have to be afraid of anything except death. All those non-specific fears of the unknown or possible outcomes can be dealt with by belief in your ability to take care of them. Or by belief in the existence of some higher power that will take care of you.

The latter is more comforting, because it also provides a ‘solution’ to being dead. But I can’t accept it, any more than I can accept atheism. Both are faith in something unproven - the existence or non-existence of a God or gods. The only thing I can be sure of is that it’s up to me, so I’ll settle for a self-reliant agnosticism.

And as my death should be a long way in the future I don’t think about it at all. I live my life on the assumption that if I treat my body reasonably well, and watch out for avoidable dangers then I should live a long time and there’s no need to worry about it. But I don’t think this is the kind of fear that Tomas was asking about.

Tomas, want to give us some examples of what you’re referring to??

A friend recently told me that his friend lives by the credo:

“Everything is alright now.”

instead of “everything will be alright.”

Seems to work, cuz his family is happy, well-adjusted, and still hard-working folks.

[quote=“Loretta”][quote]When I realize that death isn’t nearly as bad as it’s made out to be[/quote] :noway:

I can’t think of anything worse that could happen. I don’t believe in an afterlife. When you’re dead you’re dead and that’s it. Game over. From that perspective, death is a lot worse than some people make it out to be.
[/quote]
Well that person could always look at it the other way… if they die they will not even realise that they existed or they died

Another strategy is “I’ll do today only” and not bother with yesterday or tomorrow.

In regard to death and what you believe in. I am envious of those with a very strong unquestioning faith in their chosen religion. They tend to have a serene composure most of the time.

[quote=“TNT”][quote=“Loretta”][quote]When I realize that death isn’t nearly as bad as it’s made out to be[/quote] :noway:

I can’t think of anything worse that could happen. I don’t believe in an afterlife. When you’re dead you’re dead and that’s it. Game over. From that perspective, death is a lot worse than some people make it out to be.
[/quote]
Well that person could always look at it the other way… if they die they will not even realise that they existed or they died[/quote]

EXACTLY!!

My biggest fear, my body dying and my brain living on. I want to be cremated because of this. When I have had surgeries before, I have been horrified in the recovery room because of my inability to speak or raise my head as the anesthesia wore off. I can’t imagine being like this for a long time.

Fear? You look it straight in the eyes and then kick it in the balls.

[quote=“Loretta”]
But I don’t think this is the kind of fear that Tomas was asking about.

Tomas, want to give us some examples of what you’re referring to??[/quote]

The fears and worries I’m interested in are the things that occupy people’s minds on a day to day basis, fears and worries related to health, financial well-being, relationships, etc, and how people get past them and live their lives. I see fear as the motivation behind many actions and behaviors, and I’m wondering how exactly people go about quelling fear as a motivator.

I’m interested in the methods people use for ridding themselves of whatever is bothering them. Simply saying “Fears and worries, I don’t have them!” is bullshit. Everyone has them. How do you go about dealing with them? For me, the best way is to take a big-picture approach, and realize that an individual worry isn’t really such a big deal in the grander scheme of existence.

BTW, thanks DB, for that testosterone-laden post :wink: . Seriously, in the past, I’ve advocated a similar approach to abolishing fear and worry. What I’m interested in here is the thought process that you use to rid yourself of worry.

Ever since having kids, I have a lot of fear. You wonder what will happen if they do this or that and get hurt somehow. It’s terrible. I guess I deal with it by statistics. I look at everyone around me and everyone I know and think that, Hey, they made it, we can too. Before I had kids, I didn’t have too much to worry about.
I also have social anxieties. But that’s another story.

[quote=“Tomas”]

BTW, thanks DB, for that testosterone-laden post :wink: . Seriously, in the past, I’ve advocated a similar approach to abolishing fear and worry. What I’m interested in here is the thought process that you use to rid yourself of worry.[/quote]

I just refuse to be afraid about things I know I must overcome. I know this sounds like some zen horseshit but being afraid is not a luxury I can afford to have at this point in my life.

I have/had/am having some big decisions and projects going on right now and if I slip on the banana skin of fear I’m fucked.

I shall not falter and I shall not fail…it is that simple.

[quote=“Durins Bane”][quote=“Tomas”]

BTW, thanks DB, for that testosterone-laden post :wink: . Seriously, in the past, I’ve advocated a similar approach to abolishing fear and worry. What I’m interested in here is the thought process that you use to rid yourself of worry.[/quote]

I just refuse to be afraid about things I know I must overcome. I know this sounds like some zen horseshit but being afraid is not a luxury I can afford to have at this point in my life.

I have/had/am having some big decisions and projects going on right now and if I slip on the banana skin of fear I’m fucked.

I shall not falter and I shall not fail…it is that simple.[/quote]

Sheer force of will, then. That is what works for me too, after all is said and done. Simple refusal to cave to a particular fear or worry.

You can live a life that is worry free, but it seems like that is no life at all.

[quote=“Tomas”][quote=“Durins Bane”][quote=“Tomas”]

BTW, thanks DB, for that testosterone-laden post :wink: . Seriously, in the past, I’ve advocated a similar approach to abolishing fear and worry. What I’m interested in here is the thought process that you use to rid yourself of worry.[/quote]

I just refuse to be afraid about things I know I must overcome. I know this sounds like some zen horseshit but being afraid is not a luxury I can afford to have at this point in my life.

I have/had/am having some big decisions and projects going on right now and if I slip on the banana skin of fear I’m fucked.

I shall not falter and I shall not fail…it is that simple.[/quote]

Sheer force of will, then. That is what works for me too, after all is said and done. Simple refusal to cave to a particular fear or worry.

You can live a life that is worry free, but it seems like that is no life at all.[/quote]

I was up at 3am puking my guts out last Saturday because that day I had a very important test that I spent many years studying for. Oh, I worry about stuff that’s for sure but I don’t let it get the better of me.

Sheer force of will. Yes, perhaps it could be called that. The question is whether this abstract idea of “fear” is going to run one’s life. I say “No”, it isn’t. And if I say “No”, then “No” it is…no ifs, ands, or buts.