Overcoming our fears is one of the most difficult challenges we face in life.
We tend to cling to our fear because we’ve learned that it’s part of who we are.
But the truth is it’s not, and the only way we’ll learn this is if we confront our fears head on.
Below I’m going to share a Zen story that reveals the cold hard truth about getting rid of our fears.
After you read that, we’ll also go over 4 steps you can use to change your mindset so you can get over your fears.
Once there was a young warrior
“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.” – Pema Chödrön
What can we learn from this story?
We all experience fear. You can’t necessarily control your emotions, but you can control how you react to your emotions.
So many of us try to avoid the feeling of fear, but that reaction means that fear is controlling your reactions.
Instead, we need to accept and acknowledge our emotions and then bring our focus back to the present moment so we can proceed with whatever we need to do.
Below we go over 4 steps to do this.
Before we can begin overcoming fear, we have to be aware of how our fears are causing havoc.
The easiest way to do this is to observe the mind and emotions.
When we do this, we realize that we are not the mind and our thoughts and feelings aren’t really us. This gives us a sense of liberation as we don’t have to attach ourselves to our thoughts or emotions. We are the observer.
Start being truthful about what you’re exactly afraid of. Get specific. Start observing. What are you really scared of?
Start getting curious about what thoughts generate your fear, where you feel the fear and how you’re reacting. Again, be an observer.
4) The now
Once you’ve labelled and accepted your emotions, you can proceed to focus on the now. One of the best ways to do this is to focus on your breathe or your body. Once you feel like you’re centered in the present moment, you’re ready to proceed to tackle your problems.
If you do these 4 steps, over time you’ll train your mind to accept your fears and eventually overcome them.