My #1 Strategy For Dealing With Fear

I almost died yesterday. Well, sort of.

It happened on my flight back from World Domination Summit, a conference for entrepreneurs in Portland. I was flying the red eye.

There was some turbulence when we got in the air. I didn’t really worry about it. It wasn’t too long before I had fallen asleep.

When I woke up, I heard a loud sound and felt the whole plane shudder. I grabbed my arm rest. My whole body flooded with emotion and I thought, “This is it. You’re about to die.”

First I felt fear. Then gratitude. Then peace.

I must have made some sort of sound, because the guy next to me turned his head and looked at me.

He said, “Dude. We’re landing.”

Why We Feel Fear

So often we dwell on our fears. In business, in health, in relationships. We create worst-case scenarios and drag the anguish out way longer than we need to.

This is what creates chronic stress. It’s what used to give me headaches almost every day. It's what still makes me sick to my stomach sometimes.

In real life or death situations, fear doesn’t actually last that long. I was amazed at how fast my body switched from complete panic to total calm when I thought I was going to die. We have evolved as a species to be able to think clearly in the face of perceived danger.

In The Fear Cure, Lissa Rankin makes a distinction between “true fear” and “false fear.” True fear is what I felt on that plane, and it’s incredibly useful. False fear is the thing that keeps us up at night, often unnecessarily.

The reason false fear sticks around is because we never fully acknowledge it. And we can't overcome this type of fear by trying to fight it, defeat it, or conquer it. We must surrender to it.

What to Do When You’re Scared

Earlier this year, I started practicing the Japanese martial art of Aikido.

Aikido means “way of combining forces." Unlike other martial arts, which rely on force, Aikido is all about joining with your opponent’s energy. This is called “blending."

When someone throws a punch at you, or grabs your collar, your first instinct is probably to tense up or back away. In Aikido, you learn to do the opposite. You “blend” with the attack by relaxing your entire body and moving right next to your opponent.

We need to learn to do the same with fear.

How to Overcome Your Fear

When we try to push our fear away, it never really leaves - it just comes back stronger. But when we get shoulder to shoulder with it, when we actually let ourselves feel the fear, it loosens its grip.

This is incredibly counterintuitive. And hard. It means that when we feel afraid of failing, getting rejected, or being seen as worthless, we actually need to entertain that notion.

Your logical mind may fight these feelings - after all, most of your fears are illogical. Try not to judge them.

Instead, be with your fear. Go deeper into it. Let yourself experience the feeling of failure, rejection or worthlessness.

Process them through completely. Be patient. Eventually, your fear will start to go away.

When we blend with our fear, we take away its power.

The Bottom Line

I’ve written before about how the things that scare us are often the things that we most want. Some of the best opportunities in my life have come from stepping outside of my comfort zone.

Leaving my job was scary. Investing in my first coach was scary. Writing is still scary, every single day. And worth it.

This isn’t a very actionable article. It’s not filled with lists and tips and tactics. But if you implement the information I've given you, it might just transform your life.

When we run from our fear, we end up moving towards the very thing we dread. What if you made a habit of blending with the things that scare you? That's how highly successful businesses (and lives) are built.

It’s time to be brave.


Catalyst update: There's still time to earn a spot in my new group coaching program if you hurry (applications close July 24th). Because of the intimate nature of Catalyst, I will only be accepting a maximum of 7 inspiring entrepreneurs. Apply today and learn how to finally build a profitable business the brave way - without having to do it all on your own.

Greg Faxon is a business coach and catalyst for high-performing entrepreneurs. He helps clients all over the world get paid to do work they love by starting and growing impactful businesses that unleash their full potential. He also writes articles about how entrepreneurs can build their business through bravery on his popular blog. If you enjoyed this article and want more like it, subscribe to his weekly newsletter today.

(Photo credit: Kitty Terwolbeck via cc)