Fear is normal. Fear is a natural emotion.
But it’s rarely helpful. And if you’re reading this, chances are you experience too much of it, rather than too little.
There are a few techniques to better identify, and reduce, your own fears — this article is all about writing them down.
It’s easier than you think, and it doesn’t cost you anything. Well, a few minutes of your time, and perhaps a tiny dose of embarrassment. But that’s about it.
Fear can seriously interfere with our goals and dreams, or just our wellbeing in general, so any steps you take toward facing your fears can have profound effects on your happiness.
Right now, and in the future.
So keep reading…
The power of writing
Your thoughts are usually very abstract and chaotic (though you may not always realize it).
Not only that, your thoughts tend to be fast. Really fast. There are now studies showing the average person has over six thousand thoughts every single day.
When you’re anxious, or afraid of something, this number could easily go up. This is what we call “incessant thoughts”.
Not only are these thoughts unhelpful — it can get to the point where you’re not even aware of what you’re thinking. Like, you’re having all these thoughts and you’re not even aware of them.
This is where writing can make a big difference.
When you write down your thoughts and emotions, including your fears, it’s so much easier to be aware of them.
It’s a bit like measuring the height and width of an object, and writing them down, so you know what the actual size is.
Or creating a to-do list rather than relying on your own memory and willpower alone (usually a terrible idea).
What is fear?
False Evidence Appearing Real. That’s a pretty good acronym for it anyway.
The idea behind it is, we’re afraid of things because we almost always exaggerate the potential bad outcomes (subconsciously, or rationally).
Whereas if we were a bit more accurate, or realistic, we would realize it’s all in our head, or at least it’s not as bad as we thought.
In a nutshell, fear happens whenever you can’t do something. Or think you can’t do something.
Say you suddenly get angry and want to shout, but can’t. Or, you feel a strong emotion and want to express it, but can’t.
That’s what creates fear — when somehow you feel trapped and don’t do anything.
If you could remove the reason as to why you can’t or don’t want to do the thing (which is usually your own limiting beliefs), fear would almost always disappear.
And interestingly enough, most people have become afraid of fear itself, and have learned to avoid anything that’s outside their comfort zone. Which is a big mistake.
Most people don’t really have fears, but the fear of fear. Or, the fear of the fear of fear (avoiding situations where they may be afraid of fear). Hope it’s not too complicated.
Think about it, and see if it changes your own idea of what fear is.
Why you should write down your fears
Alright, so how does writing help you with this? I believe there are (at least) five reasons.
If you can think of other reasons, please leave a comment at the end!
1. Your fears are not you
We often associate our own thoughts and emotions with our identity. I’ve talked about this in a few other posts as well.
Now, when it comes to our own fears and limiting beliefs, this is a problem. We may identify with our own fears — think they are part of who we are.
The first reason you should write down your fears is that by doing so, you separate your identity away from your fears. Your fears are no longer you.
This is what’s sometimes referred to as cognitive defusion — you detach from your own thoughts and feelings and realize they aren’t really you.
2. More clarity
What are you afraid of, exactly? If you had to write down your fears, as accurately and meticulously as possible, what would you write?
We’ve already learned that our mind goes through so many thoughts every single day. And most of the time we aren’t even aware of our own thoughts.
Writing helps you become more clear about the things you are afraid of; the things you can’t do (or think you can’t or shouldn’t do).
And clarity itself is powerful. Once you clearly see what you’re afraid of, it’s a lot easier to deal with it.
3. Challenging your thoughts
The third reason to write down your fears is that it gives you the chance to challenge your own negative thoughts.
Say you’re afraid of doing X because X is dangerous. You could challenge the thought and instead write “I am doing X because it’s safe”.
This doesn’t mean making up your own truth. Sometimes your fears are 100 percent rational (in other words, you should be afraid as there is a real danger involved).
But most of the time, challenging your own thoughts will give you a different perspective. And instantly reduce your fear.
4. It’s never as bad as you think
When you think (and accurately write down) the worst case scenario if you do face your fears, is it really as bad as you thought?
And if it is (which is rare), what are the chances?
For example, if you are afraid of traveling somewhere new because you may be kidnapped or killed, you want to ask yourself what the chances of that would be.
Provided you use common sense and not do anything too crazy, it shouldn’t be higher than one in a million. Which doesn’t really justify any fear.
5. Self-awareness = courage
Have you ever noticed that whenever you become aware of one of your negative traits, that trait tends to disappear?
When you find out you’re not very knowledgeable about a topic, your knowledge of the topic usually improves.
When someone has an addictive personality, and suddenly realizes they tend to become addicted to things, it’s usually easier for them to change. And so on.
By writing down your fears, you become aware of them, and you develop a higher level of self-awareness. In turn, this could make some of your fears disappear — almost magically.
Thank you for reading! If you’d like to share your own thoughts, please leave a comment below…