How to Overcome Fear

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear-not absence of fear.”
– Mark Twain

Life does not exist without fear. Fear is a component of life.

A less intense version of fear, known as apprehension, prevents us from taking risks which could cost us our lives, our security or our food supply.

Fear could be described as avoidance of that which could cost us our lives, our future. However, much of what people fear does not deserve that amount of attention or emotional energy. The risk is more perceivd than real in many cases.

Some people fear terrorist attacks, which in most countries kill fewer people than lightning (which the same people often don’t fear). Some people will not travel in an airplane because they fear a crash, but they will travel by car which, mile for mile, carries a much greater risk of death from a crash than air travel.

Many people are afraid of spiders, though they couldn’t name one spider that could kill them, couldn’t recognize a dangerous spider from a benign one (which most are) and don’t even know if any spiders whose venom could kill live in their country.

Fear of poverty is one of the most common fears. So-called workaholics and other work-obsessed people reach that stage because they have a deep-seated fear of being poor. These people may have no idea what life is like for poor people in their country. They only know that they want no part of it. To them, fear equals failure and failure (or the perception of it) must be avoided at all costs.

An excess of fear is obsession or compulsion, which are recognized as psychological disorders. However, most fear itself is irrational because it is unnecessary, thus could be considered a psychological problem of its own.

Fear is only a problem when it is out of our control. Yet fear is within our control in most cases. Only our brain convinces us that we should fear or that we should not fear something. The brain can convince itself that something it previously feared should no longer be feared. This requires effort, concentration and determination on the part of the person who wants to get rid of the fear. But it is do-able and has been done by many people.

We understand what Mark Twain meant when he said that courage is the resistance or mastery of fear. What many of us don’t understand is how within our reach such mastery is.

Resisting fear is a matter of making a decision to not fear something, then sticking with that decision no matter what the circumstances we find ourselves in. Use the natural apprehension we were born with and that we have learned. But don’t fear that which doesn’t deserve the sacrifice of that much life energy.

Give up your fears. Go ahead and try it. Don’t be afraid. Your brain won’t hurt you.