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How to get rid of fear permanently

Updated on July 2, 2017
TessSchlesinger profile image

Tessa Schlesinger developed an interest in human behaviour and ethics while studying anthropology at the University of South Africa in 1975.

Purpose of fear - it acts as a warning

Every emotion in the human body has a purpose – even supposedly negative ones. So this isn’t about getting rid of the ability to eradicate the emotion of fear. It is about ridding oneself of the sort of irrational fear that stops one progressing or dealing with things that need to be dealt with. Of course, there are also times when fear is very rational, and the need is not so much for the fear to go as to be able to act effectively despite the fear.

Paul Atreides "Fear is the mind-killer."

Paul Atreides from Dune
Paul Atreides from Dune | Source

Self Knowledge - Dealing with fear

Before anyone can deal with fear, it is important to know what one is fearful about, why one is fearful about it, and whether the fear is a rational one or not. A fear that is not rational is called a phobia. Phobias are generally the result of never confronting one’s personal fear.

Sometimes fear of one thing poses as fear of another thing. For instance, I developed a fear of heights after being in a train that derailed on a bend overlooking a ravine. My carriage was third from the front. Everybody in the first two carriages died, and the carriage in which I was, was hanging over a precipice…

I didn’t acknowledge any fear to myself then, but when it was time to go home, I did not want to travel on a train again, and so I decided to fly. It was my first flight, and throughout that flight, I was in a state of fear – fear that the plane would crash. However, my mind could not deal with its fear of death and how close I had come to it. Instead it translated into a fear of heights.

So it’s important to know what one is really frightened of. It’s surprising how often a fear of one things is really a fear of something completely different.

The necessity of humility in confronting fear

It’s surprising how pride weakens us. This is something I have had to repeatedly deal with all my life. The fear of being humiliated ensures that many of us remain quiet or fail to do something when it would either have protected us from something or pushed us in a direction that would have been very profitable one way or another.

This could be anything from approaching someone we like, through standing up to a bully at work or at school, or correcting a boss at work.

Humility is the result of primarily accepting one’s personal weaknesses and being comfortable with them and understanding that we are just one of a gazillion molecules in the Universe. But then, so is everybody else. When we see ourselves in perspective, we realize how small we are, so when someone tries to make us feel small, they cannot harm us because we already know that we are small. Instead, because we already know that we are small, we can deal with their words and/or actions in a rational, effective way because we are not paralyzed by our fear.

The second prong of dealing with this is have prepared responses in the worst happens.

There was a time in my life when I was a bit overweight and I was still dealing with the consequences of abuse. There was someone I wanted to meet and a well-meaning friend told me just to march over and introduce myself. The response was, ‘Why would I want to speak to a fat old bag like you?”

It devastated me for years to come. Today I would have been ready with, “Wow! You certainly have no class. My mistake.” And I would have marched out of there super quick and known the man wasn’t worth my time.

Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions | Source

The willingness to sacrifice removes fear

Courage requires the willingness to face the consequences of our actions, and that often means we sacrifice what we have or what we would have liked. In order to have courage, we need to make peace with the fact that what is right and what is good comes at a price. The evil of others cannot be stopped when it has been allowed by the general community to go unchecked because individuals are not willing to face the accompanying losses. The more individuals are willing to allow unfairness to flourish because if they say something, personal loss will be the consequences, the more evil will grow.

At a certain point, it reaches epidemic proportions, and we are now living in a time when, internationally, many previously democratic governments have become fascist. In addition, business feels entitled to charge what they like for goods they produce on the basis that it is no longer about a fair price, but what they can get away with.

In personal lives, many women suffer the abuse from predators because the price of calling out someone is tantamount to losing their jobs and facing public ridicule as the purveyors of evil continue their behaviour, content in the knowledge that the price of exposure is too high for individuals.

In order to be able to act when fearful of consequences, it is important to have studied the situation, looked at all the possible outcomes, and made plans to meet them before one declares one’s colours. Preparation is vital.

Competence activates the resolution of fear

During grade school, we were told by the educational authorities that knowledge is power. For years, I read books and my knowledge didn’t make me any more powerful. I’m going to rewrite that. Competence is power. Certainly, competence requires knowledge, but it also requires skill, a safe place to retreat to, the energy to deliver what is needed, and the ability to do it exactly right. When we are able to negotiate any situation, we lose our fears. So years later when I fly, I realize that the planes being what they are, and times being unstable (especially when flying near Malaysia or the Ukraine), I can board a plane and face that it might be my last day on earth. I’ve dealt with that. It keeps the fear at bay. And the days when I turned tail and walked out on profitable ventures because some nasty/jealous people said mean things to me have been gone these past two years. Instead I use every inch of power at my disposal, be it blocking offenders, taking legal steps, or exposing the nastiness in such a way that the bully begins the scorned.

Questions about fear

How many fears do you have in your life.

See results

Fear is the mind killer

We all feel fear. It is a healthy thing to do. When nearing a snake, and being somewhat ignorant of snakes, we do not know whether it’s a venomous or not, our fear allows us to do the wise thing – avoid it. If we had the knowledge to know that upfront, we might not need to step away, and if we had the competence to deal with the situation (out comes the machete at super speed), then we also don’t have the problem. Being paralysed by fear can cost us dearly. It’s worth working making our fears work well for us.

© 2015 Tessa Schlesinger


Submit a Comment
  • maggs224 profile image


    3 years ago from Sunny Spain

    As Julie says in her comment, food for thought. I agree with the hero in Dune fear is the little death, and if we let it rule in our lives, it will kill our potential to live much richer lives.

  • profile image

    Julie K Henderson 

    3 years ago

    This is an insightful article. Thank you for the food for thought.


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