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A 4-Step Process to Dethrone Fear

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

"Fear has gained a big foothold in the lives of men, precisely because men deny fear and won't deal with it." — Richard Rohr

Whenever we see divisiveness, judgment and hate present and increasing in a society, we can be sure that fear is at the root of it.

Fear of loss...

Fear of change...

Fear of the unfamiliar or the unknown...

Fear of being excluded...

Fear of being manipulated or tricked...

Fear of losing your personal freedom...

Fear of suffering...

Fear of death...

These fears, and others like them, are driving us as a society at the moment. This is not good because fear blocks our access to the more creative, innovative parts of our brains. We simply can't innovate creative solutions to the problems we face and let fear run us at the same time. Our brains just don't work that way.

To overcome fear, our natural tendency is to deny it, to suppress it, or to just pretend it's not there. But this is actually the opposite of what needs to happen. The first step to overcoming any fear is to stop running from it, and to face it honestly, head on. For us as a society, this means we have to admit that we afraid, first to ourselves and then to one another, and then look for the best way to walk through our fear together.

But this kind of honesty is difficult to pull off because it requires a good bit of courageous vulnerability—and that is something most of us don’t like to offer up even on a good day, much less when we feel afraid.

I think this is especially true for us men, since so many of us have been taught since childhood never to acknowledge our fear, even to ourselves. When we feel fear, we tend to not recognize it as fear. Rather, we typically feel it as anger. We are also strongly prone to externalize it—that is, to project our fear onto other people and declare, “Those people are so full of fear! Their fearful attitude just makes me so angry!”

Well my friends, those people may be afraid (in fact, they very likely are), but very likely so are you. The first step to sussing out whether there really is fear in you is to stop passing judgment on the fear you see in someone else, and to start honestly looking for it in yourself.

1. Let’s test that out, shall we? Begin by jotting a few notes in response to these questions:

  • What’s at risk for me in my life right now?

  • What aspects of my life seem to be under threat?

  • What am I concerned might happen?

2. Your answer to those questions will reveal specifically what your fears are. Whatever they are, name them. I mean, name them out loud. Say to yourself (or to God, if you are a person of faith):

  • I am afraid that ______________.

  • I am afraid of ______________.

  • I feel afraid when ______________.

3. Once you’ve named your fears, dare to go deeper by asking yourself:

  • How are my thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors currently stoking those fears and making them bigger?

  • How are these stoked-up fears driving my attitude and choices right now?

  • Which of my positive core beliefs about life have I loss sight of because of these fears?

  • If those positive core beliefs had a voice, what would they say to me about my fears right now?

4. Finally, summon the courage to shift your relationship with fear:

  • How do I want to change the way I relate to my fears based on the insights from my core beliefs?

  • Am I willing to make that change right now?

Fear is a normal, human reaction to a perceived threat. But fear itself can become the greater danger if it remains unacknowledged and is allowed to drive our thoughts and behaviors from the shadows. To reduce the amount of fear out there in the world, you have to start with yourself. Only by dethroning the fear in your own life can you gain the clarity of mind and heart to authentically help other people let go of their fear too.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” — Matthew 7:3-5
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