I’m going to teach you how to overcome fear and anxiety, but first I’m going to exacerbate your fear and anxiety.
It’s interesting, some of the websites I write for have content policies that advise against using headlines that ‘trigger fear and anxiety’ in others, but it’s bullshit because they don’t care about your fears and anxieties at all.
They actually want you as anxious and afraid as possible. They want to suppress content that teaches you how to properly deal with your negative feelings because these teachings make you strong instead of weak.
They’re happy to promote posts about how World War 3 is the end of the world, co-vid killing you, or any other anxiety-inducing subject du jour.
Don’t play their game. Play the game based on the way the real world works instead of the matrix they’ve created for you.
If you really want to learn how to overcome fear and anxiety, stick around and learn from these no-nonsense lessons that actually contain, you know, the truth.
Fear serves several useful purposes. You don’t cross the street in traffic because you’re afraid of getting hit by a car. When an armed intruder breaks into your home, fear is the appropriate response.
A gazelle doesn’t judge itself because it ran away from a cheetah. Your ancestors didn’t judge themselves for running when they heard a rustle in the bushes.
No, only us homosapiens, with our overactive prefrontal cortexes, judge ourselves over feeling a feeling that’s totally natural.
The trick is to understand that the feeling of fear that consumes you before certain situations is wired into you and won’t change.
Once you stopped wishing fear would go away, you can move on to the next important step when it comes to overcoming your fears and anxieties.
You’ve heard the phrase ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ You can’t overcome fear and anxiety without confronting your fears.
We all know this yet try to find a way to mentally dance around it until we somehow magically do the things we avoid doing out of fear.
You want to get the confidence without the risk of rejection and humiliation. You want people to buy your products or consume your content without ever facing criticism or hearing no when you make an ask.
In short, you want the outcomes without the work, period. Again, don’t beat yourself up because it’s human nature to want the easiest most pain-free route possible.
Just know that all your mentally masturbatory attempts to weasel your way into action won’t work. You just have to do the things that make you feel uneasy and feel uneasy while you do them until the uneasiness wanes bit by bit each time you step up to the plate.
There is no other way.
If a Nuclear warhead touches down on the small Minnesotan town I reside in, I’ll be…dead. Not much I can do about that, so why worry about World War 3?
“Because you should care!”
Why? Give me a legitimate reason to be afraid that’s divorced from the narratives they’re feeding you.
You’re trained to be afraid of things you shouldn’t care about and brainwashed into being okay with things that should terrify you
Learn to be afraid of the right things.
You shouldn’t be afraid of the weather. “Climate anxiety!” Please don’t tell me you’re that much of a dork.
You should be afraid that time is running out and you haven’t done the things you’ve wanted to do with your life. If you lack resources you should be afraid that a couple of missed paychecks will leave you out on the street.
You shouldn’t be afraid of the societal narrative, but you should be afraid of being under the thumb of the people who narrate. You should be afraid of relying on the kindness of strangers.
Most importantly, you should be afraid to live in a world where cowardice is continually being rewarded. I fear the woke keyboard warrior much more than I do some ‘toxic’ or ‘savage’ individual.
A coward with a weapon is dangerous. And these cowards have weaponized speech, media, and influence to control the population.
It’s working really well. In fact, it won’t be defeated. Your best bet is to figure out how to insulate yourself as much as possible.
Be afraid of just how exposed you are and do something about it.
People who lack real intelligence fail to understand what I’m about to say next: two things can be true at the same time.
[*] Thing one: Some people have genuinely debilitating psychological issues that need professional attention.
[*] Thing two: Some people are quick to slap labels on themselves to avoid dealing with their problems.
Some people say “I have anxiety” like it’s akin to cancer when, in reality, they’re anxious for a reason. If you know you’re supposed to do certain things with your life and you don’t do them, you’ll remain anxious.
If your life isn’t in proper order, why wouldn’t you be anxious?
If you’re in the latter camp, I strongly suggest dropping any label that makes you feel like a victim and empowering yourself to learn how to overcome fear and anxiety by confronting it like I said in the earlier point.
Removing that label is key, especially in a culture that gradually increases the rate of celebrating mental weakness.
If you can’t get rid of fear, at least make it useful to you. You can make it useful to you by changing what it means to you. Instead of that feeling of butterflies in your stomach signaling dread, reinterpret it as excitement.
I was shaking, my heart beating out of my chest before I was going to walk on stage and give a talk in front of a thousand people.
Sure, I was afraid of messing up, but I was also genuinely thrilled about getting up there to face my fear. That feeling was me anticipating the euphoria that would follow after I got done with the speech.
And just like I suspected, the moments after that talk made me feel like I was floating on air. That’s what’s on the other side of useful fear — a pure and unadulterated form of self-satisfaction you can’t replicate from any other source.
Fear is your signal to act. Stephen Pressfield put it well:
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
Avoid useless fear. Avoid fear of situations you can’t control like geo-politics. Get out of the limbo state where you feel constant fear due to your own inaction. Stop being afraid of being afraid.
There is no magical formula to teach you how to overcome fear and anxiety, but you already know that. You know that the closes thing to a formula is exactly the thing you don’t want to do.
You learn how to overcome fear and anxiety by being in attack mode. Gradually, consistently, and relentlessly chip away at your fears through action becoming a little less afraid each day.
Publish your work even though you’re afraid of criticism over and over again until you know your work is too good to be ignored. If you’re a wallflower, force yourself to meet new people every day until you’re the life of the party.
If you’re afraid of conflict add some social friction into your life until you learn how to stand up for yourself. If you’re afraid to try and fail, try and fail, then you won’t be afraid of trying and failing.
Get in the arena. There is no other way.