Hey everybody,

I just got done with a long vacaction in which I was able to think clearly about many different topics, mostly spiritual, but not exclusively. I was able to finish reading Think and Grow Rich before my vacation so many of the ideas from that book were on my mind. I came up with a lot of questions that I plan on asking, but not all at once.

My first one deals with the six ghosts of fear. They are the fears of:

poverty, criticism, loss of love, ill health, old age, and death.

I was honest with myself as Hill suggested and found out that I have the fear of criticism, loss of love, and dying before I accomplish everything I want to accomplish. Also, I don't FEAR ill health, but I HAVE ill health so maybe I fear it on some deeper level.

I know that auto-suggestion would work, along with Eckhart Tolle's dissolving the pain-body practices and even correcting some limiting beliefs. To deal with criticism, I plan on deciding on a definite life goal (again suggested by Hill).

So has anybody else dealt with a major fear? How did you do it? Even if you haven't what advice could you give?

asked 11 Jul '10, 21:02

Michael%201's gravatar image

Michael 1

edited 11 Jul '10, 21:42

Michaela's gravatar image


Glad you asked this question. I've been doing some research on this on my own :
As you seem to genuinely want to reduce your fears, I thought it would be nice to share my research with you and see if what works for me works for others as well.

To begin with -- I would like to say I generally wouldn't take these specific lists too seriously because no matter how smart the author is one person trying to give emotional classification on his own is sort of like a 12th grade student trying to disprove the theory of relativity. Documented history has been around for close to 2000 years and no one person has been able to absolutely pin down emotions and lay down a frame-work accurately on his own. If you have any experience with reading Sigmund Frueds theories you'll know how much of a disaster it would be if you just take one persons word for it. To cut the long story short. The list looks good but probably doesn't hold that much of a value in actual life -- think about it, its a pop-psychology/self-help book you're not going to get cutting edge factual stuff even if you do its going to be dumbed down beyond recognition. If you read 20 other books you'll find at least 15 such lists - so don't take the list items per se too seriously.

Enough of that

If you want to work with the emotion and work on reducing your fear. Here is a list of things that seem to work.

Emotion Theory

I am going to use the emotions theory put forward by psychologist Robert Plutchik as the basis for this approach.

These are the basic 8 emotions. The emotions are in pairs - Polar Opposites.

Fear - Anger
Surprise - Anticipation
Disgust - Admiration
Sadness - Joy

One end is Extreme Terror whereas the other End is absolute Rage.

More on the theory :
Combination of adjacent emotions form complex emotions -- All the basic emotions can be paired with each other to produce a variety of complex emotions - except the opposite emotions.

This is a full list of all combinations.

Emotional Balance - Emotional Management

Before we move to managing fear specifically. I think it would be appropriate to try to understand all your emotions as a whole first rather than just tackle fear.

Understand your emotions
This is something that needs to be done with brutal honesty -- don't be shy or afraid to go wherever your emotions take you.
The basic purpose of emotions is very simple - to give a context to your experience. For our hunting ancestors things were pretty straightforward -- animal attacks, kill it -- something happens, react to it -- The world was more right here right now - you put efforts you saw rewards (hunt, got kill - have food) -- Today we carry the same emotional system from our ancestors but live in a totally different environment that does not work according to those emotions. Brain at its core is the most primitive and the recent higher functions are more peripheral.
You work hard at your job, but you don't get paid directly right after working hard -- you get your salary that is at the end of the month - you rationalize that because you worked so hard you got the salary, but its not the same thing as -- I worked hard at a football game, My team won and I got the trophy the reactions are totally different.

We have much more cumulative emotions that just sit in our brain -- like worrying about paying for your son to go to college -- you could worry about it for 6-7 months consistently - every time you worry about it, you'll accumulate fear in your head. Human brains are not built for those kind of prolonged stresses. I'm not going to go too much into detail cause the post is anyways going to be very long.

The brain gives you emotion to give context and draw attention and focus to certain things. They are like messengers to the king(your attention) -- they will keep persisting and trying to meet the king -- the more important they feel the message is the more persistent they will be. Emotions don't ask anything from you -- What they need is they need to be experienced -- This is different from overtly expressing those emotions -- the important thing is experiencing them. So if you fear something -- don't try to be guilty of it, don't try to suppress it -- experience it -- your emotions and your mind is your friend, only if your brain thinks its important will it trouble you with that emotion -- your brain is not stupid.

If you are feeling really emotional(anger, sadness, fear..etc) At any given point of time, you will probably have 4-5 issues that are running in your head. Because of the limitations of your brain where you have limited active memory(like RAM in computers, if you understand the analogy) you can sit by yourself and figure out all the things that are going on in your head.

This is how I go about trying to make sense of my emotions :
Your brain will be dealing with these 4-5 issues just like a computer processor deals with programs -- all the programs that are running get small chunks of processor time and then its turn for the next issue. So in your head you'll think for a few/more seconds about a certain issue, move to the next then jump back to the first and then jump back to the 3 and then the 4th and you'll keep thinking.

Step 1
I like to think of getting extremely emotional(without obvious big enough reason) as my PC getting slow. You gotta find out what's going on in your head -- what are the issues running there -- that's the first step.

Couple of ways you can do this.

I have a good typing speed so I like this method. Just type what's going on in your head - type out your inner dialog. Keep typing typing typing -- I generally close my eyes and keep typing anything that comes to my head. If its abuses, I type abuses if its violent thoughts, type violent thoughts. Just let your mind go -- keep typing. When I think I am thinking of a different issue, i'd press enter a couple of times between issues. Here you don't want to break the flow, don't concern yourself with typing mistakes and things like that. You will initially not get it but a few minutes into it you'll move into a flow. Do this for as long as you feel you have something to express -- just keep going -- I would at times type consistently for upto 30 mins. If you're not comfortable typing, get an old book and keep writing, don't care about your handwriting -- just write as you feel and let your emotions do the talking. Its good if you don't look at the book while you're writing so you won't get engrossed in trying to analyse your writing or get distracted. purely focus on getting the words in your head to the paper.

Second way is, shoot and record yourself talking to a camera. Just keep talking to it and talk about the issues that are running through your mind as they come up. I Haven't worked much with this though, you could probably try it out.

Step 2
First step is collecting data -- You now have a snapshot of what is going on in your head. Moving to step 2. Because your thoughts are in small chunks about each issue and they are all mixed up(each issue gets a small chunk of processor time) you will not be able to make sense of your thoughts about a particular issue just paying attention to your thoughts on your own - because of the human brain limitation. Now, what you will be doing is read these thoughts - You will see patterns of certain issues. If you're typing then you want to start taking the one or 2 sentences you have about an issue and put them with another 1 or 2 sentences that seem to be about the same issue. If something doesn't fit anywhere else, leave it as it is, don't worry about it. On my PC I would start my grouping and cut paste statements so after a while, naturally they will start forming into recognizable issues. Using the book, you can start to underline text about a certain issue and give it a simple name it could be a 3-4 character name to identify the issue, write that in small letters above that statement. All statements that you think are of that issue, give the same name. So after reading what you wrote a couple of times, you will get close to 3-5 issues that standout.

Step 3
This is the most important of all the steps -- Take all the issues that you got from the step 2 and make a separate list of just the issue names -- here use longer understandable names of these issues. Go back and read each issue, to understand your feelings about it. Then take up only one issue -- read your feelings about only that issue. If you need to do this on a separate page do it. For that issue, jot down the solutions that you can think of, the things that you can do to start fixing it. These steps need to be tangible Simple - Measurable - Achievable - Realistic - Time-bound. -- basically now you are attacking your problems with a single minded focus. Do this for each problem, follow a policy of divide and conquer. Divide the larger issue into smaller parts, some will be easy to solve, other hard. Don't worry you are not superhuman and you will not get a solution to all the parts of the complex problems in 5-10 mins -- for the difficult parts of the problem, note down things that you do know and how you could possibly solve it -- if some parts of your complex problem are not filled with solutions, no problem. Once you're thought hard and are satisfied with solving all the constituent parts of this particular problem to the best of your current ability and can think of no more ways, move to the next issue and do the exact same thing with this issue and keep going till you've covered all of them.

Step 4
The brilliance of the human mind and its ability to focus is very wrongly thought of as something that happens in an instant. That you see the problem and bang you have the answer to the whole complex problem - its not how it works, and it happens only in movies. In real life, getting solutions to complex problems is like cutting down an oak tree. Now that you have divided the problems to smaller parts and partially or completely solved easy parts of it. You move to the next step. You keep these problems with you - You can keep this list with you if you won't be able to remember all the problems and smaller parts to it. The true intelligence and power of the human brain is not in the short term -- saying my ability to solve a problem is probably the same as yours in a given span of time - biology may vary a little but its roughly the same. The amazing power, comes from 2 things.


Focus is the ability to remove all the riff raff from your thinking and consciously choose to think of only one specific thing. This means consistently monitoring your thoughts actively stopping the thoughts that are not of this issue, going back to the issue at hand and resilience to go back to the issue once you find out that you are distracted. I like to fall in love with my problems, think of them as your own and take the responsibility to solve them. Do not multi-task, studies have shown it just ruins your focus. Use the time that you get during the day that is generally wasted. commuting to work(assuming you're not driving). sitting around doing nothing. At these points you will realize, if you are doing it right and getting deeper into your problem. You will begin to phase out, what you're looking at will start to become a blur, the sounds will start to feel distant, pupils will be more stiller not move as rapidly or as much. You will move in a trance of sorts. As you start to lose awareness of the outer environment, you'll start to see the beautiful power of your mind and the increased power for visualization and overall thinking. Use this trance state to find solutions to specific problems, consciously avoid other things during this time.

Time You need to start giving time to your problem. Once you know your problems, take ownership of these problems -- I like to fall in love with my problems, think of them as your own and take the responsibility to solve them. As you give time to it, you don't just want to look for obvious answers, but understand the problem in a more deeper context and now use your imagination and creative thinking, ability to link seemingly different unconnected problems with the issue at hand and find possible solutions. A lot of solutions your brain may give you, may be useless -- those you have to recognize and kill. You will also get brilliant and average solutions -- it is your responsibility to then stick with those and nurture them, and give them your attention -- set your mind on the track of those solutions and leave it free(its a joy) - Your mind will keep moving in that direction and start giving you solutions. Here it is important that you keep your focus. It may seem difficult to stick with a problem for long and you may not be able to focus easily, but, as you keep at it, you'll keep getting better.

Step 5
Do Start taking action towards solving your problem. It may be something easy that you need to do, or some hard work. No matter what it is, develop self-discipline and do what you need to do to solve you problem.

Above is a step by step way of reaching specific goals or solving difficult problems. If the emotions are not about things that you need to solve but something that you just feel about. Then what you need to do is just experience these emotions -- Sit down and feel these emotions don't suppress them, don't try to distract yourself -- just sit there feel these emotions and understand what they are trying to tell you. If its negative emotions and you can't do anything about that situation now. Accept things as they are and let go. A lot of people just suppress their emotions or run away from them because they are not sure if they're strong enough to face them. It takes courage to face them sometimes, but once you do -- you will see the real strength of yourself and your own resilience. Its beautiful to know how truly strong you are and how much as a human being you can go through and still bounce back.

Managing Fear

Emotions are created and felt in the limbic system of the brain. The limbic system of the brain is again an older part of our brain in terms of evolution. Emotions are actually felt as energy flowing through specific parts of your body. It is assumed that you know emotions have a purpose and any of them is undesirable.

Here is short a list of emotions and related body reactions they cause :

1) Fear - often starts in the belly and moves upward in the body. It starts as a small prick or like a stab in the stomach and moves upward.

2) Sadness - often begins in the chest and moves upward through the throat and up to the eyes where we see tears - It is also accompanied by a strong wanting to drop your extremities(hands/legs) and let wanting to let go of your neck muscles and just let go + bending of the spine.

3) Anger - Anger is energy felt in your body - begins in the back between the shoulder blades and travels upward, along the back of the neck and around the sides of the jaws.

4) Joy - Joy is the last of the five core emotions. Joy is often felt in the chest (Similar to sadness we have tears of joy) but it may radiate outward more than simply moving upward.

For your specific request, in a situation this is how I would counter fear.

You have to use Anger. A lot of people feel Anger is a negative emotion. It is a healthy emotion by itself. If combined with Joy it gives you pride. If combined with disgust it gives you contempt -- which is definitely not positive. But again here we are talking of a choice between two evils Fear/Anger(Flight/Fight) -- So in a situation where you feel fearful, This is how you can change it.

You feel energy moving through your body at any time, if you can control the flow of this energy, you can change your emotions. The moment you feel Sad and fearful. You want to do the following :

Move out of greif
1) Take charge of your extremities(hands/legs) feel energy flow from the palm of you hands and sole of your feet upwards towards the direction of your body.

2) keep your back fairly straight -- don't need to strain it but don't let it slump.

3) Feel a radiant glow, right at the center of your chest, and feel that moving outward. Smile as you do this - you'll notice, it will be an effortless smile.

4)fly ( ;) - kidding)

Move out of fear to anger
1)Feel your shoulder blades and the back of your neck, feel the energy of your body moving towards these.

2) Feel energy move to your jaw - Push it out till you feel it is a strain. Feel the energy moving from your chest to your jaw and it will feel really good on your lower jaw

3) Do both Joy-Anger together and Give a bloody big smile. You'll love it.

Inner-directed Vs. Outer-directed

A lot of fears can be a result of being Outer-directed and getting your approval/values/sense of achievement from people around you and from outside sources.

Try to be more inner-direct, Accept yourself for who you are. Care less about what people think of you and more of what you think about yourself from your own perspective and value system. Don't beat yourself too much. Be secure and self assured about who you are.

Chemical Game

I'm just giving you pointers here, you can read up on your own and learn about these :
Increase Testosterone :
Workout for at least 30 mins a day -- any physical exercise will keep your testosterone levels up and it will keep your stress levels low, you'll feel good about yourself and less depressed.

Reduce Cortisol :
Cortisol is the primary stress hormone. It has its function, but if you have persistent long term issues that cause stress and release this hormone -- it really doesn't help you.

  • Don't stress too much - situations that cause a fight/flight response in you that are not needed should be avoided.
  • Cut the intake of stimulants like Tea/Coffee.
  • Any form of meditation will temporarily reduce cortisol levels in your body + lower your overall cortisol levels.


answered 12 Jul '10, 11:42

xyz's gravatar image


Thanks for the indepth answer. I'm going to have to read this a few times to really take it in. I really like the part about writing everything thats you think of. I think the pairing of witnessing fear as Michaela said along with this really getting to the core of the problem should help alot.

(12 Jul '10, 19:40) Michael 1

Impressed by the depth.

(12 Jul '10, 21:04) Asklepios

This message is so awesome, thanks for putting in the time for the answer. Would this be the same way I'd get over my fear of doing backflips (even though im a gymnast)?

(10 Nov '11, 12:09) Nikulas
showing 2 of 3 show 1 more comments

Firstly Michael, you don't destroy fear.

When something dysfunctional is operating in our lives, the last thing we should try to do is get rid of or destroy it because by doing so we give that dysfunctional tool an energy that it does not deserve.

We operate from a much stronger position when we can witness that fear for what it is. This means differentiating from merely knowing ( on an intellectual level ) that we are operating from a place of fear to actually watching or witnessing ourselves from a place of awareness. Witnessing takes quite a bit of practice but like anything worthwhile, the more we practice the better we get.

The more you can practice watching or witnessing your own feelings and reactions, the more control you have over how you respond to any given situation or feeling.

Emotions are feelings that move through us and often become habitual due to our learning experiences. However, the more we can watch these emotions move through our physical system, the more we realize that we have control over these. Fear is an emotion and You have control over it - irregardless of what situation is generating that fear.

P.S. Good for you Michael for being willing to confront those fears :-)


answered 11 Jul '10, 21:36

Michaela's gravatar image


edited 12 Jul '10, 01:14

Thanks for the great answer on controling fears. Witnessing is much like the dissolving pain-body exercises I mentioned. In breif what you do is move your attention to the point of the observer and feel the emotions instead of analyzing it. Thanks for reinforcing that practice.

(11 Jul '10, 22:29) Michael 1

You're right Michael - the key is not to analyze but let that other presence take over ( sometimes easier said than done, especially for those of us who are predominantly left brained ) but persistence and practice does pay off.

(11 Jul '10, 23:20) Michaela

From my experience I know that cause of fear is rather internal than external. That means you are afraid of illusions created by your mind. This applies to the fear of criticism.

The solution is to raise self-confidence so that you would look at yourself from the other perspective. When you do not care about what others say, this is not much of a problem.

The other fears need more of a philosophical solution. The thing is to debate with yourself. When your beliefs change, so do your fears. For example I believe in reincarnation and divine providence. I believe that I have many incarnations before me plus I know that with the support of divine providence my life will not be meaningless e.g. I will not die in a random car accident because I have to self develop and achieve something. I believe that the reason the people live is to develop til perfection so it would be stupid for them to die randomly (backing up).

Fearing the loss of love can be also softened this way, but I would recommend a more practical approach. If you fear that you could loss the love by losing a person (like partner), this means you do not believe and trust in that person. Why get into harmful relationship? Love is blind so it is better to be clear-headed before it is too late.
On the other hand, if you fear the loss of love in a wider context (like losing the person you love in an accident), then you can use a philosophical solution or see if you are not too careful. Excess of a virtue is not a good thing. I am too careful myself and often see problems and dangers where there are none. Excess of a virtue (if it's only troubling you) is a problem to solve with auto-suggestion.

It is possible to heal yourself with auto-suggestion. Auto-suggestion is actually something more than most people think. It can change yourself on the physical level. I myself have a problem with my eye and I am planning to heal it in the future (it is not really a neccesity because the eye is only light damaged and it is not a hindrance for me).
Furthermore, I always recommend Yoga asanas for they really help to maintain good health and youthfullness.


answered 12 Jul '10, 09:48

Asklepios's gravatar image


Michaela, I have to back to Abraham. You need to get to a better feeling place regarding the fear (whatever it maybe). One way to do so is with the focus block. If you fear heights then you want to get to a better feeling place until you no long fear heights. You need to work your way up the emotional scale until you get there.


answered 12 Jul '10, 17:35

Drham's gravatar image


one of my favorite books is Dune and there is a quote from that that I use when something brings on fear

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

and then there is what Roosevelt said "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." I'm good at quitting so these help me in quitting fear/being afraid. It's funny how the abraham-hicks qoutes I get in the mail seem to fit as answers here this qoute is from the 9th I had not opened it until just now (the 13th).

There are those that say, if you do the uncomfortable thing long enough, it will become comfortable. But we are really not encouragers of that. We are encouragers of coming into alignment, and then taking the action. We are encouragers always of getting rid of the fear; we would never want you to keep doing things that you feel fearful about. And maybe the path of least resistance is just not get on the horse. Maybe the path of least resistance is to get on a different horse—but we would never move forward in fear.



answered 12 Jul '10, 22:13

ursixx's gravatar image


edited 12 Jul '10, 22:32

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