TED Conversations

Shannon Downey

Owner - Social Entrepreneur, Pivotal Production


This conversation is closed.

How do you overcome fear?

What are some tips, tricks, processes that you employ to help you overcome fears?

Topics: fear motivation

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Feb 22 2012: I believe there is a level of fear that is normal. Then there is a level of fear that is paralyzing. But then there is the in between and many of us get stuck in that area, needing a little push to get through it. The level of fear that is paralyzing, however, may stem from something physiological or psychological that we may need to "go within" to conquer.

    In my experience, most people that experience this level of fear must first recognize it as something that is not apart of them. It is something that is able to be shed off with assistance. Then they must seek out assistance, in whatever form works for them (e.g. mindfulness techniques, therapy, coaching, seeking more knowledge about the specific area they are desiring to "conquer", etc.). I have worked with many people that see "mountains" before them, but every single one of them that sought after assistance reached the top of those mountains. It is not always easy, actually most of the time, it isn't easy, but on the other side they are stronger and more knowledgeable. Which, in turn, causes that them to be able to assist someone else they encounter (in the future) over his or her mountain. THAT is the true story of man's existence! All the other stories out there are simply fiction.
    • thumb
      Feb 22 2012: I agree with you :) Yes, there is this level of fear that is normal and we take different ways to cope with it. I think that we can call it "everyday fear". But when it comes to" real fear" it's really hard to fight it sometimes. It's even worse when it comes to us unexpectedly.
      I think that the most dengerous are fears that we, in some ways, hide from ourselves, we act as if they don't exist. If I see the mountains (I like that name in your story) I know what I fight with and the other person also see what is the problem. And what if I don't see that the mountains stand right in front of me?.
      Coming back to the main question. Example: If you want to start selling you paintings then you fear that no one will buy them and that the paintings are not good enough to sell them. Then you ask your best friend for advice, then ask other friends, your family, show your paintings to a stranger - can be a friend of your friend. I think that this way your selfconfidence grows. You need as much feedback as it's possible. Then your fear melts constantly. You begin to believe that your paintings are worth selling :)
      It is also helpful when you get to know something well before you start doing it. When you do, it's esier to cope with that and it begins to be friendly and not so scary.
      You can also tell yourself at the begginig: "What will happen if I don't succeed. Nothing!!! I will try doing something else".
      • thumb
        Feb 22 2012: Monika you are so right about the "unexpected fear". That is a whole other conversation in itself. In regards to that, I think about how "not in control" of things we really are, although our sanity comes from feeling like we are in control of things. The reality is that fear is always around us, it is up to us to do something to alleviate it or allow it to alleviate us. This can be a life-long journey for some people, but once a person overcomes this fear they are equipped to help someone else. It is promised to us that we all will FAIL at something at some point in our lives (or at many points in some of our lives) but that failure is like on-the-job LIFE training. And living in a competitive, capitalist, individualistic society does not help our fear factor one bit, but it is still able to be overcome with assistance. I have seen it happen way too often.

        I have seen women that have lost their babies in freak car accidents have more children, women that have lost their legs in car accidents stand before gymnasiums of people and talk about "being all you can be even when your legs are missing", I know a woman that watched her father get shot in the face with a gun and now she is a leading a group of citizens to fight against gang crime, while I was pregnant I met a woman from Palestine that watched her family get mutilated, one by one and now she is a spokeswoman for crimes against humanity...I could go on and on. My point is that there are many things in this world that can deposit fear into us, but each of us have within us the ability to overcome that fear. That of course, is easier said than done when the moment of FEAR strikes, but it can be done.

        The unexpected fear you speak about is what can make this life crazy. A wise man once told me that fear was at the root of all the social ills we see around the world. I questioned him in immaturity, thinking it was more laziness than fear, but now I believe him to be completely right.
        • thumb
          Feb 22 2012: Maranda :) Yes, I agree. Fear is always around us. We experience it from the very beginning of our lives; in our mums wombs.
          I believe that we are equipped with a certain defence mechnism in order to overcome our fears.Otherwise, we would probably die. And yes, people die because of fears, they commite suicides.
      • thumb
        Feb 23 2012: Monika, sadly you are right about suicides. That is why I believe it is so important for individuals to seek assistance and for individuals to be open to give assistance. I have all too often dealt with family members that have lost relatives that have committed suicide. Fear can be paralyzing to the point of feeling numb to yourself, to your family & friends, and the world around you. Life is hard sometimes, but thankfully there are people that genuinly care for people. Everyday I think about how wonderful it is that even though this world seems to be one big jumble of destructive chaos and instability toward WAR (on all levels), there are good & caring people here creating balance! My heart aches for the condition of man, but I am ever so thankful for that spirit of resilience that seems to be built into our DNA.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.