5 Ways to Overcome Fear
Fear comes in all shapes and sizes, and it's important to recognize which kind you're battling. Observing your fear is the dissolution of fear. It's that simple.
In life, we experience two kinds of fear: real fear, and psychological fear. Or, as I prefer to think of the latter, ego-fear.
In the words of Immanuel Kant, the ego is “our precious little self.” Or as Eckhart Tolle calls it, “the voice in the head.” It isn’t who you really are, but the you that you think you are.
Each day, what you see in the mirror is the reflection of your physical being, and within, you may get glimpses of your unique personality in that reflection too, in between your laugh lines or furrowed brow. Still, it’s not really you.
Same thing with the roles you inhabit each day, and how they are reflected back to you: As friend, lover, parent, child, worker, boss. These are different selves we pick up each day as needed, as the situation or relationship summons them.
But knowing that these roles, as well as your reflection in the mirror, are not who you actually are is an important distinction to which all enlightened, sentient beings become aware.
With this background, we can better understand our shared fears and how to overcome them.
What is Real Fear?
Real fear is the body’s natural response to a threat.
Let’s say, for example, you’re proceeding cautiously through a green signal at an intersection when the driver of another car suddenly disregards his red signal, and drives through without stopping. Because you drive defensively, you’re able to maintain control and avoid a collision.
To do so, however, you are required to slam on the brakes, turn the wheel, and steer your car into a nearby ditch. To compound the seriousness of the situation, the driver of the other car never stops.
In an instant, your life flashes before you. Your heart pounds rapidly. Perhaps you even shout an obscenity or two at the driver and shake your fist at him for being so stupid and irresponsible.
What are you feeling and experiencing?
This is real fear. Our body instinctively knows how to respond in a threatening situation, thanks to thousands of years of evolutionary history. You know it as “fight or flight.”
For as long as you live, you will occasionally find yourself in circumstances that necessitate an involuntary, automatic response to a real threat. This is normal and natural.