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  • Writer's pictureRhiannon Ling

Facing Fear

Updated: Jun 9, 2018

Fear—and how to best deal with it—has been something that I’ve had to confront a lot recently. It rears its head in many different forms, anything from a nagging anxiety to a full-blown panic. These can be caused by a variety of things; mine, in particular, have come with worries about the future, which is common at my stage of life, I understand (hello, being halfway done with college!). Regardless, fear is, arguably, one of the worst sensations any of us can ever feel. It’s not always logical, and it seems to stick to us like a glue stronger than any known. It’s so easy to give in to this feeling, to give up.

Please don’t do that.

Originally from Found on Pinterest.

Recently, with all this chaos happening in my life, I’ve started down a path of figuring out how to prioritize myself, how to enact self-care, and all that jazz (more on that at a later date, I think). Included in that is how to deal with fear. Throughout the years, I’ve come up with some good coping mechanisms or tactics on how to face fear; I’ve been listening to podcasts and reading books in the past few weeks that have helped me gain some insight, as well. I’ll give credit where credit is due at the bottom of this post.

First, though, as this is a topic that has been on my mind for a while, here are my own tips for how to confront (and get control of!) fear:

1) Acknowledge it. This may seem obvious. In fact, it totally should be. Unfortunately, we, as humans, tend to suppress or deny any emotion that makes us uncomfortable, and fear is one of those. I’ve done it, too! I’ve done that whole toxic thought process of, “Maybe if I ignore it, it’ll go away.” It’s like hiding under your covers as a kid, thinking that, somehow, your Scooby-Doo bedsheets will protect you from the monsters in your room.

Denial just makes it worse. Pushing fear down lets it fester and grow into some disgusting swamp monster that attacks you any chance it gets. It’ll make your stomach ache; it’ll screw with your sleep cycle; and it’ll make it hard to focus. Acknowledging it, however, helps. We don’t need to give it any power, and we don’t need to come up with a battle strategy at this point. Just let your mind know, “Okay. I’m feeling this. I’m scared of something, and that’s okay.” Fear is a common thing, remember: there’s no shame in feeling it. Acknowledge that you’re feeling this way, and it will pass sooner rather than later. The fear won’t get a chance to build.

2) Be thankful for it. Seems stupid, right? Why would I be thankful for something that makes me feel awful? Well, a few days ago, I was listening to an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) and she brought up a fantastic point: fear has saved us before. Fear is what warns us of something that could potentially be harmful. It keeps us from jumping off cliffs or swimming out too far or going down a dark alleyway. In many cases, fear is our friend. Giving it that title can make it less daunting, and, honestly, it gives the power back to you. All of a sudden, you are the one in charge, because fear is no longer the enemy. It’s your thoughts. You get the control.

3) Let it be along for the ride. This point kinda connects to the one above. Let fear come along with you as it may, but don’t let it drive you. It’s just casually there, with you, but in the backseat. It does not take precedence over your passions, or your ambition, or your dreams. Fear is a part of you—as it is a part of all of us—and it gets to tag along. What it doesn’t get to do is push and pull you around; it doesn’t get to be the one driving the car. Give the power back to yourself.

4) Ask yourself some questions. To be more specific, ask yourself these questions: what’s the absolute worst that can happen? How much will I regret it if I don’t go for it? Be analytical here: make sure you don’t talk yourself into a frenzy (because, believe me, I’ve done that to myself too many times to count). Oftentimes, the worst that can happen is not as bad as you think it’s going to be. Once we stop overdramatizing the possibilities ahead of us, they become a lot more manageable and less frightening. Saying things like, “I’ll end up a failure and alone!” is negated when you think about the fact that you have your family, or friends who are like family, to cheer you on and help you out. And, also, “failure” at one particular thing doesn’t mean that you are a failure; it just means that you need to work harder, learn more, or find a way to use that passion in a different sense. But that’s a topic for another time. :)

Just as importantly, know how much you’ll regret not going for whatever you’re scared of. Life is short. Write the book. Start the YouTube channel. Try out for the soccer team. Go back to school. Take the new job. Ultimately, we’re only here for a fraction of a second in the scheme of things. Don’t let fear pull you away from what you want to do and who you want to be; don’t make fear force you to regret your life, because you are worthy and deserving.

5) Find an outlet/Find what’s comforting to you: This could literally be anything, as long as it’s healthy and you love it. When you feel scared, find some way to get it out of your system and bring a sense of calm back to your mind. Go for a run. Write in your journal. Play basketball with your family. Make a video. Color in a coloring book. Go fishing. Play a board game. Drink a mug of hot cocoa. Talk it through with a trusted friend. Whatever it is, do it. Let that feeling out, and get yourself into a more tranquil state. Even if you’re not totally calm yet, having let that steam off will feel like a weight off your shoulders.

6) Make a (doable!) plan. Alright, now that we acknowledged and calmed down the fear (even just a little!), sit down and draw out a plan for whatever you want to accomplish. Don’t make it impossible for yourself: “I’ll be on Broadway in a year” or “My café will be successful in the first month” are probably not the best goals to set for yourself. They can be hopes and dreams, certainly, but don’t make that timeline your only focus. Set goals that make sense; oftentimes, baby steps are the best progressions to make. Slow and steady wins the race, after all. :) Give yourself a timeline, sure, but don’t be too hard on yourself: make the goals measurable and doable. When will you decide on the menu for the café? What songs will you be able to sing in a year that you can’t now? When will you publish that blog? Having that road map laid out in front of you makes a task a heckuva lot less scary. All of sudden, it’s realistic. You can do it. Fear responds accordingly, and it fades pretty dang fast.

7) Be brave. Now, you get to do it. It’s time to follow that plan. Fear can tag along, certainly, but it’s time to follow those dreams. I saw a quote from Alex Elle on Pinterest not long ago, and I saved it to my board: “Sometimes we have to stop being scared and just go for it. Either it’ll work or it won’t. That is life.” There are only two options facing you, and neither one is as scary as we all think it is. That’s liberating, in a sense, right? There are only two ways that this could go down, and neither one is branded as “failure.” That’s essentially what fear is screaming at you about, yes? “Failure.” I’d argue that that doesn’t exist. Failure isn’t a real thing. We just tried something that didn’t work. That’s all. And, hey, you never know: it could always work. :)

So, go for it. Charge after that dream, and take command of your own body, mind, and soul. This is your life to live. This is your passion to chase. Don’t let anybody—especially fear—tell you otherwise.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that I’m perfect. I’m still fighting fear every day, and I’m still learning to apply the tips and tricks I’ve mentioned. I’m struggling through this right alongside everyone else. Maybe we can all have this ongoing journey together; no one has to be alone. Regardless of whether you’re an artist, an athlete, an actor, an entrepreneur, or anything in between, you are not alone in this. Fear attaches to us all. We just have to learn that we have control of it.

And don’t worry: I’m here cheering you on the entire time.

Not my own image. Found on Facebook many moons ago.

I hope something in here has resonated with you. As always, thank you for joining me, and have a wonderful day! Go out there and get it done!


As promised, helpful podcasts/books!

~Coffee Talk, with Kalyn Nicholson (or find her on YouTube!)

~Story Matters, with Curt Mega (especially good for artists of any kind)

~The Marie Forleo Podcast (where the Elizabeth Gilbert interview came from)

~You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero (I haven't finished it yet, but what I have read is genius)

~The Non-Fiction of The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan (the fiction is brilliant, as well, if you so desire!)

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