Fear Holding You Back? 3 Powerful Tips to Overcome Fear and Thrive

Updated by : Elizabeth Herman 

Are you struggling with fear? You want to move forward but fear keeps holding you back. Check out these 3 simple meditation tips to overcome your fears.

We all experience fear, and we all want to overcome it. You may fear giving a presentation at your company’s monthly meeting, snakes, or even death. Whatever your greatest fear, it becomes difficult to think with clarity and rationality.

I tend to think of myself as a courageous, mentally strong person. But the other day at an aquarium, my subconscious unleashed an underground fear. I had never before experienced such horror.

I walked past an exhibit on freshwater fish and noticed a group of kids. They congregated around a large, open pool containing large sturgeons. The learning display encouraged visitors to touch the massive, prehistoric fish. I noticed an immediate discomfort arise in me out of nowhere. But out of curiosity, my rational mind overrode my feelings. I went forward to touch the fish anyway. As the black, slimy fish approached my hand, I felt the physical symptoms of a panic attack kick in. As it’s back grazed my fingertips, my hand shot out of the water and I ran away from the tank with a racing heart. So, I learned how fish can terrify me.

After that irrational fear over which I had little control, I realized that I needed a tool for calming down. I needed to remind myself that I was still alive and that everything was going to be okay. So, I sat with my eyes closed, observed my breath, and meditated for a few minutes. Within a matter of seconds, I felt a calm wash over my body. I reconnected to my inner storehouse of strength and stability.

What is fear?

Fear is nothing but love upside down. Think about it: what are we scared of? Often, we fear what we don't like or don't know. Fear has a concrete purpose, to keep us safe and alive. When a tiger chases you, it's natural (and healthy) to feel fear. Fear triggers the release of adrenaline and gives us the jolt to keep running.

But when fear goes unchecked, we trigger needless adrenaline. Fearful behavior depletes our adrenal glands. Even worse, our irrational fears hold us back from life and enjoyment of the present moment. Social fears and stress prevent us from being happy NOW, which matters most in reality.

So, how do we flip anxiety back on its head and convert it to love? The first step in overcoming intense fear is learning how to face your fears. And to do so doesn't mean you have to immerse yourself in them. Meditation has the power to dissolve the seeds of fear. It can heal the subconscious, and connect you to a space of courage and inner peace.

Dissolving the seeds of fear

#1: Get rid of past baggage

Often, our emotional response derives from past traumatic experiences. If you feel scared of dogs, it's likely that you or someone you know had a fearful dog experience in the past.

You may notice that children have few fears. As children, we allow fear to move through us so it doesn’t leave impressions. But deep-seated traumas can cause our child’s fear to haunt us later in life. But as we grow up, we compile a stock of good and bad experiences that embed themselves as impressions in our minds. Some of them turn into habitual fears and phobias, such as the fear of darkness or heights.

Practice meditation for fear and anxiety. Meditation removes past emotional scars and allows for freedom from within. When we meditate, we melt away past traumas and stress. This aligns us with the present moment.

#2: Face anxiety with strength

If you have ever had an interview, then you're familiar with the anxiety that comes days and hours before. You feel anxious and your mind gets stuck in a whirlpool of uncontrolled thoughts. “What is going to happen? What will they ask me? Will they choose me? What if they don’t like me?” A bombardment of thoughts like these only increases feelings of fear and anxiety. The future perceived threat we fear is unknown and uncontrollable.

The next time you feel anxiety related to a future event, meditate and notice the difference it makes. Meditation calms the nervous system and provides a feeling of inner strength. When calm, our feelings of faith increase. And when we have faith, we know that no matter what happens, it's for the best.

Meditation helps us drop anxiety about the unknown future. It brings our mind into the present moment, which is the only actual moment where action is possible.

#3: Breathe!

Breath is the most powerful tool available to us when it comes to fear. Many scientific studies found that every emotion has an associated pattern of breath. When in a fearful state, heart rate and blood pressure increase. Respiratory frequency also speeds up, with many more breaths per minute.

Certain emotions trigger certain patterns of breath. Likewise, certain patterns of breath trigger associated emotions. By learning how to breathe to relax, we can bring ourselves immediate peace and energy. Practicing pranayamas, such as bellows breath, ujjayi, and alternate nostril, will help you. It's all that you need to drop excess fear.

Let go!

Small doses of fear, of course, can be helpful. If students had no fear of failure, would they study? If you had no fear of falling sick, would you take care of your health? Fear becomes problematic when it prevents you from living a full life.

To experience the ultimate freedom from fear and anxiety, we recommend SKY Breath Meditation. To learn more about SKY, join Beyond Breath, a free intro to the SKY Breath Meditation Program.

Inspired by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's wisdom talks

Elizabeth Herman is a long time meditator, a trained yoga teacher, and a PhD in English, with concentrations in Rhetoric and Composition, and Literature. She offers writing support to clients, teaches locally, and volunteers for a better world.

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