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3 Tools to Help You Crush Your Fears

 

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” ~Pema Chodron

Though there are many events outside of our control, we do have the power to change our own lives. So what’s stopping us?

In a word: fear.

Fear is a great survival instinct. It helped our ancestors survive the rigors of daily life. But nowadays, fear holds us back from achieving what we want to achieve.

My Story

I grew up living in fear. In school, I tried to win the approval of other people by letting them bully me. I was terrified of being disliked, and this constantly worked against me.

When I was 15, I suddenly came down with Crohn’s Disease, a painful autoimmune disorder. It was the beginning of a new journey; a journey that would permanently enroll me in the school of hard knocks.

I believe the biggest fear I am in the process of overcoming is the fear of going against society’s expectations. One example: Society expects you to be gloom and doom when you’re going through a tough illness. Not me.

Before I even started learning about personal development, I tried to lighten up the days of the doctors and nurses in the hospital with a smile and positive demeanor. This completely cut through expectations, because “sick” people aren’t supposed to smile.

When I started feeling better, I decided to work on my fears even more. I went to online school, where I worked on the fear of being a self-disciplined learner.

I started a daily stretching routine, and posted a video of myself doing a full split online. I sent it to my old ballet teacher, and she invited me to come to dance in her studio.

That idea had never even crossed my mind. A swirl of irrational thoughts went racing through my mind:

  • What if I’m not good enough at dancing to be in the studio?
  • What if I get sick?
  • What are all of the people going to think of me? I have an NG tube in my nose that makes me look weird!

 I was terrified, but I did it anyway.

I ended up dancing in a ballet recital last May. It was incredible, and I never would have done it if I didn’t work on overcoming my fear; and, of course, if I didn’t have an encouraging teacher to support me through my fears.

These days, I work on my fear in many ways. Some of them include:

  • Sending a friendly e-mail to one new person every day
  • Speaking Japanese, a language that I am very far from fluent in, with a native speaker on a regular basis.
  • Conducting interviews with people who are doing amazing things
  • Keeping in touch with new friends, and getting back in touch to reconnect with old friends

I make sure that I am doing something every day that scares me. And I know the tools will help you do the same!

1. A daily routine

This has been the foundation for overcoming fears in my life. I start my day off with a glass of water, reading, stretching, visualization, and meditation. I’ve been able to achieve great results by constantly doing this routine every day, without fail.

Little things, done consistently every day, have big impact over time. The daily routine gets you started on the right note, giving you greater strength to tackle your fears.

NOTE: I started this routine with just stretching and reading, and added on more as time went on. I recommend the same strategy to avoid overwhelm.

2.  The Fear Crusher

Every night before I go to bed, I write down a brief overview of some of the work that I want to accomplish the next day.

Then, I write down one task that I will achieve the next day, and label it: The Fear Crusher.

Can you imagine doing this one thing every day, for 365 days straight? Can you imagine how strong you will be after one year, if you do “The Fear Crusher” every single day?

It has to be something that you feel a little scared or apprehensive about. Things that make you feel uncomfortable. This could be something small or big, like

  • Writing a hand-written note to a friend
  • Calling someone you haven’t spoken to in a while
  • Writing an article
  • Writing a public speech and reaching out to local organizations for an opportunity to present it
  • Outlining your favorite book chapter-by-chapter, and summarizing the key points
  • Reading a book in an unfamiliar area/topic
  • Studying higher math or another topic that makes you feel uncomfortable for fun, just to keep your brain sharp!
  • Walking around with a “Free Hugs” sign, giving free hugs to strangers, or doing other acts of social courage

As you keep working on overcoming fear every day, you can gradually progress to bigger challenges. You know what you fear. The problem is that another layer of fear often disguises the fear itself.

Fear is insidious in that it hinders your awareness. Fear wants you to forget that it’s there. The act of writing down the fear crusher the night before, or whenever you’re most mentally sharp, will keep the fear from stopping you.

If you spend some time in self-contemplation, the right thing to do will come up. The more apprehension you feel about the task, the greater of a fear you will be overcoming.

What if you set aside just 30 minutes each day, sometimes more, sometimes less, to tackling a fear crusher? Do you think it would be the most valuable 30 minutes of your day, in the long run? I believe so.

And one day, sooner than you think, you’ll look back on the things that used to scare the living daylights out of you, and think triumphantly to yourself: “I can’t believe I used to be scared of doing that!”

3. Nutrition

When we’re physically fatigued, all of the concepts that I’m talking about go right out the window. Our willpower gets drained. How could you tackle a fear crusher task when you’re not feeling very good?

Nutrition is key here. Now, I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, but there’s one thing that I’d like to share: I can’t see how processed food is good for your body or energy levels.

The best things to eat are just what common sense ordered, like fruits and vegetables.

I find that broccoli and cucumbers help out my energy levels. If you eat meat, you can experiment with different types and see which ones make you feel good. You’ll also want to take a break day once a week. Life can get stressful if you try to cram yourself into a rigid box.

If you tell your brain, “No more potato chips for the rest of your life,” it will go into panic mode; but that “cheat” day will give you the cognitive leeway to follow through on good eating habits.

Look into different diets (Paleo, Vegan, pH Miracle, etc.) and experiment to find the right one for you. This aspect of your life is too important to leave to chance.

Closing Words

Do what you fear. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s the right thing to do. And don’t worry about that one percent when it’s the wrong thing to do, as long as you survive it.

You’ll grow stronger, and strength will lead you down the road to a life of wellbeing. The solution to your problems is often hidden underneath the fear.

That’s why the fear crusher will help you out tremendously!

The toughest part is having the courage to follow through. But because you read sites like Tiny Buddha, that puts you in a group of people who take action on their fears, and work to make their lives better through conscious action.

Photo by h.koppdelaney

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Profile photo of Josh Lipovetsky

About Josh Lipovetsky

Josh Lipovetsky doesn’t just blog about optimism, success, creating empowering daily routines, motivation, and overcoming fear. He also shares his personal story, highlighting the ups and downs of daily life with a Chronic Illness. Check out his blog for a personal message exclusively for TinyBuddha readers.

Announcement: Wish you could change the past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Erica

    Great post, Josh! Love the idea of The Fear Crusher! =)

    All the best to you,
    Erica

  • Colleen

    This is one of the best blogs I’ve ever read here, and I read a lot. Thoughtful, insightful, open, humorous. Good going!

  • http://www.smiffbib.com/2012/04/24/twloha/ Kerry :)

    Needed this today… Its one of those kind.

  • Lindarp3

    Great post!  I WILL practice the “fear-crusher” method! :)

  • Maloretta

    Once again … THANKS =)

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    Thanks for the comment, Maloretta!

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    That is awesome! The fear crusher method continues to be one of my favorite habits. Please let me know how it goes for you. :)

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    I hope your day’s going better now, Kerry!

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    Thank you so much, Colleen. It means a lot to me that you got value out of this post!

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    I know, right? I love the idea, as well. So powerful. All the best to you too, Erica!

  • Emilymilleryoga@gmail.com

    Thank you so much for posting this article. So very helpful!

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    Thank you for leaving a comment, Emily! Glad you enjoyed the article.

  • Vrinda

    Vrinda here writing from India………Loved the concept of the Fear Crusher :) This article was exactly what i needed to read today! Thanks for the motivaton! God Bless!

  • Alexgirl6

    I’m a nutrition student and we don’t really encourage diets because they are usually temporary and most are not nutritionally sound. The concept of a cheat day will pretty much overrun all your healthy eating habits throughout the week so that’s not very good advice either. The fact of the matter is that we should follow the My Plate guidelines at myplate.gov. Eating well is not a diet, it is a lifestyle, something you carry with you for the rest of your life and pass on to your children. But yes, the processed food can’t be good for you so I try to avoid it but there’s no such thing as bad food just practice moderation.  I personally add supplements to my diet like a multivitamin, Omega 3 and I try to exercise, these help with mental clarity, productivity, general wellness and lift your mood. 

  • CathyLove

    I smiled and teared at the same whe reading this. This article puts me to shame…

  • Christy

    Thanks Josh! This article really inspired me to get on board with my goals! I love the Fear Crusher concept! I am in the middle of changing careers, but in order to take the next step, I have to study an exam and pass it. I am so scared because I have never had to do that to change a career. But if I stay where I am at currently, it will kill my soul! So reading this article puts everything into a better perspective and I know that I need to start crushing my fear! Thanks for all you do!

    Christy

  • Jessica

    What a fantastic article! Thank you for posting Josh- keep up the good work : )

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    Thank you so much, Vrinda! It really is my pleasure to have written this article. Much appreciated that you left a comment, and that it helped you out.

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    I completely agree; eating well is a lifestyle. When I wrote “diet”, I meant it more as a permanent change in lifestyle. I’ll make that distinction next time. Regarding the cheat day, I know it’s not optimal for lifestyle, but it gives more psychological freedom if your willpower isn’t feeling up to following the diet. Ideally, you would eat healthy all of the time. I’m working toward this, and I appreciate the comment. Best of luck with your nutritional studies!

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    Thank you for the comment, Cathy. But putting you to shame is not my intention. My hope is to help you out and empower you!

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    Thank you so much, Christy! That exam does sound really scary, though. I love that! I’ve been seeking out these “scary” things and making them part of my life. I gotta say: I do not regret it at all. I love this lifestyle.

    And really good on you to have the courage to change your careers!

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    You are very welcome, Jessica. Thank you for the kind words!

  • http://georgedonnelly.com/ George Donnelly

    “My Plate” sounds like just another one of your “temporary” diets. Perhaps the concept of a permanent diet is simple not useful and some change in diet over time is completely normal.

  • Alexgirl6

    Thank you for the well wishes! Good luck on you path toward a clean mind and body!  I don’t believe that there are bad and good foods. There are better for you foods and not as good for you foods. If I put a chocolate cake in front of you and say don’t eat it, what’s gonna happen? you create a temptation from something you can’t have. This could lead to binge eating on a day where you say its okay to eat the bad foods. So everyday in a healthy diet there is some wiggle room. We should strive to consume nutrient dense foods mostly and then nutrient empty foods can be accommodated. It’s all a balance! :) Moderation is key. Self control is just like the fear crusher haha only 10 chips lol 

  • Alexgirl6

    Absolutely! If My Plate was a diet it would probably be the most flexible diet of all. Myplate.gov is just giving general guidelines to the american public established by professionals for the our lifestyle in an effort to prevent chronic diseases and make sure that we get enough of our macro and micronutrient for optimal performance as Josh Lipovetsky is implying.  Its not food specific It replaced My Pyramid which agrees to your point that change is normal. Something will eventually replace My plate as well. I just think that we should stick to what the experts of this science say. 

  • Alexgirl6

    We also acknowledge that we eat differently in the weekends than during the weekdays. Its normal. So in that sense yes, there are cheat days! you’re right. 

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    Cool stuff. I’m really curious to know about your perspective on “diets” like the pH Miracle, and Paleo. I’ve tried them out for the Crohn’s, and I’ve gotten decent results (having an NG tube 24/7 with nutritional formula makes these programs very strange)

  • Rajan Ramchandani

    Hello Josh,

    It is so nice of you to have written THIS article. I would love to keep in touch with you. If you have Skype please add me to your list and we shall speak. I am in Singapore where are you from?

    Warmest regards
    Rajan Ramchandani

  • Rajan Ramchandani

    My Skype address is: rajangramchandani

  • Christy

     Thanks Josh!

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    Thank you very much, Rajan! I’m from the Philadelphia area in the US.  I’ll add you on Skype; my address is “joshlipovetsky” and if anyone else reading this wants to add me, feel free to do so!

  • Emily Bemily

    Great article! And I really enjoy that photo…it looks familiar to me – who is the artist?

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

     Thanks for the comment, Emily!

  • Barbie

    Stick to what the “experts” have to say? Really? Sorry, but nutritionists are the ones behind the nutritionally inadequate menus served in hospitals, nursing homes and often school cafeterias, too. While visiting a friend in the hospital a couple of months ago, I brought her a big salad, fresh fruit and a raw pizza. She was so hungry because meal after meal, she had to leave everything on her plate. Fried eggs, buttered toast, black coffee and canned fruit in a heavy syrup for breakfast. Cheese lasagne for lunch served with chicken noodle soup, jello, cracker and cheese and again, coffee for lunch. Dinner offered up shepherd’s pie with canned peas and carrots, 3 baby carrots and 2 inch-long pieces of celery, tomato soup and apple pie and coffee for dessert. THIS is the kind of meal that I, growing up in the 70s, was taught to make in Home Economics. Well, we’re in 2012, and guess what? The same menus laden with meat, cheese, wheat, fat, sugar and caffeine are still being promoted today. This, in the face of so much research and information out there today. Wheat harms a lot of people. Most Celiacs are undiagnosed. Meat is not for everyone, and yet, we are told if we don’t eat meat, we’ll lack protein. Protein is found in leafy greens, nuts and seed and pulses/legumes. We’re told that if we don’t drink milk, yogurt and cheese, our teeth will disintegrate and our bones will become brittle and snap. Isn’t it interesting that in China, where traditionally, milk is not part of the diet, the population has lower rates of osteoporosis than North America.

    When I brought my friend the raw, living food, the young nurse on duty stopped by and exclaimed, “Oh, real food! It’s a wonder our patients don’t die of scurvy in here considering what they are fed in here.”

    So, please don’t say there are no bad foods, and all we have to do is practise moderation. That is one old chestnut of a line. There clearly are loads of bad foods, and we would all do well to steer clear of them. Just today, a newstory broke about a case of Mad Cow Disease. Do a bit of research about the processes involved in factory farms. Once you face the realities of what goes on in them, you will probably never support them with your wallet again.

  • Spoooky_bear

    Thank you so much for writing thie article. It really help calm me down for my upcoming swim meet !

  • http://www.facebook.com/AngelicSoulHealing Tracy Needham

    Funny how you always ‘stumble’ upon an article at the time you need to hear it. Thank you! :) xx

  • waffacles

    How did you get to be so smart at so young an age?  :)  Thanks for an inspiring article.  I hope you continue writing.

  • Blucookies

    Hi Josh,
    Thank you. For sharing your story & inspiring all of us.
    My fear is hindering my career & I have no idea how to tackle it. I will try baby steps, like how u did. Thank you once again.

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    Thank you so much, waffacles!

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    No problem! I’m glad that the post helped you out :)

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    So glad to hear! Hope the swim meet went well :)

  • http://www.optimisticwellness.com/ Josh Lipovetsky

    I know, right?! It’s the best! Thanks for the comment, Tracy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cloyd.anthony.robert Anthony Cloyd

    Some time after elementary school was when I started to struggle with fear. Social fear mostly. I was constantly concerned with being nice and liked and accepted. I still struggle with those things today and every now and then I’ll get into these gloomy episodes where I realize that my fears are starting to come true and I’m helpless to stop them. This article, along with some others on this website, truly changed my life. I’m not saying that lightly either. I’m realizing that I have to accept the fear before I can overcome it. I was hating myself for even allowing the fear to be there. It’s natural. So let it go. Thank you so much for opening up my eyes.

  • travelmari

    My fear is to face my babys dad in court. In my mind he was hitler, now he is a dragon, I hope to bring him down to a human by the time court comes in a month.
    I hold fear that he will try to attack me again. If you ever seen the movie “Enough” that is my story. i have not seen him 13 years, but most go to stand up the rights of my daughter. I can do this. Court scares me, being attacked by the dragon scares me, maybe i should go sit on court cases and listen for a bit to become less fearful of the task. i have to represent myself because Ii have no money for a lawyer but I CAN DO THIS! I will take in your advise and know it will work.

  • yajo

    :)

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