Overcoming fear with mindfulness

When I was a kid my mom would tell me that F.E.A.R was False Evidence Appearing Real. As a child, that didn’t make much sense to me at all.

Really? False evidence? Surely not. The evidence seemed so real to me. How could it be false? I had a long list of fears and I highly doubted that they were false.

Here is a drastically reduced list of some of the things I’ve been afraid of in my 25 years of living:

  • Getting stung by bees 🐝
  • My mom dying
  • I was afraid of what people thought of me
  • Monsters in my closet
  • That I would burn in hell forever
  • That I would be single for life.
  • That people actually didn’t like me, but only tolerated me
  • That I wouldn’t pass 3 years of Latin class and would fail to graduate from high school
  • That I  wouldn’t graduate from college with a computer science degree
  • That I would lose my job
  • That I would never realize my full potential

So how did I overcome these fears and more? The truth is the last two bullets are current fears that I struggle with on occasion. But the way I deal with them is the way I’ve dealt with all my fears in the past. I become mindful and allow myself to let the fear pass over me.

One mindfulness technique I’ve used is called Negative Visualization. In a nutshell, Negative Visualization is the process of visualizing your worst fears occurring and allowing yourself to come to the realization that even if your worst fears come true, life will go on. You will overcome.

One of the best examples I can think of for Negative Visualization is from the novel Dune written by Frank Herbert. The main character Paul Atreides recites this litany which he uses to overcome his fear of death and his possible destruction:

“I will not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. I will face my fear. I will let it pass through me. When the fear has gone, there shall be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Frank Herbert

We must realize that fear is not only the mind-killer but also the joy-killer. Every moment we live in fear we are not content and we cannot experience joy.

Fear steals and sabotages any hope of future joy. Realize that fear has no substance and no power except that which we give it. Imagine your fears and imagine yourself being ultimately destroyed by them. Allow this thought to pass over you and repeat the mantra above: “I will not fear. Fear is the mind killer. I will face my fear. I will let it pass through me…Only I will remain”.

This is being mindful and embracing the fear. If you continually do this your fear will die. Use this technique to kill any new fears that creep into your life.

Go forth my friends and slay all fears.

 

 

 

 

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