The overwhelming predictability of Fear and how it controls our lives


Fear is a normal part of life.

We face it every day in one form or another. It could be a college student who is afraid of failing a test to pass a class. Or maybe it’s an elementary kid afraid of the bully at school. Or a person on vacation to the Grand Canyon, who is scared to death of looking over the edge. Maybe it’s a person who moved to a new city and they don’t know anyone.

These are all fears, and they are all legitimate. However, we can let these little fears control our lives.

How could something so small create such a huge ripple effect? You might be chuckling to yourself, thinking…”none of those are really that scary, I can’t believe that anyone would let that control their life”

Maybe you’re right. But how can we keep it from controlling us?

I believe that fear is predictable, and can be navigated fairly easily with a four step approach:

  1. Learn to recognize your fears voice

  2. Learn to use self-talk

  3. Create Sources of Confidence (Goal Setting, be uncomfortable)

  4. Repetition


Step 1: Learn to recognize your fears voice.


Fear has a few catchphrases, it’s repeatable, and it has a normal modus operandi. There is no new tactic that it uses, it doesn’t change up its routine, and it doesn’t evolve. It is the same voice over and over.

  • You’re not good enough

  • You might fail/ you will fail

  • What if people make fun of you? What if they don’t care? What if they don’t like me?

  • What will my peers think? My parents? My boss?

  • You’re too fat/ too skinny

  • You’ve tried before and it didn’t work for you, what makes you think this time it will?

  • You are going to lose

  • You can’t win

  •  …insert your fear here


These are the words that we hear when fear kicks in, chances are you might be hearing these words more often than you think. It is possible that you have started validating this voice, buying into it, accepting these words as truth.

Let me just tell you, these are all lies.

Fear can be good in the sense that it reminds us to proceed with caution, or make us aware of our surroundings.

If someone was to break into your house at night, you might be afraid of what they are going to do, but you can’t let it paralyze you, you have to take action. Good fear drives us to take action!! Bad fear causes us to take no action, and holds us captive to a life, as Thoreau put: “…of quiet desperation”

Now you know what fears voice sounds like. When you hear it, when it start’s rearing its head, (Notice I said when, not if) you have to say, “OK, I recognize this is fear, now I need to use logic, confidence sources (I’ll cover this later) and my decision making skills to work through it.”

It’s necessary to recognize and acknowledge fear, but you don’t have to keep listening to it. Look at it as a conversation with someone who has a strong opinion. If you try and ignore it, it will get louder and louder. If you acknowledge it, and give it an answer, it will be quiet and often times, go away.

Step 2: Learn to use self-talk


Your mind is your greatest weapon, or your worst enemy. There is a battle waging between the two everyday. The winner will be the one that you give the most attention to.

Feed the lies, and they win. 

I wrote an article called "What are you telling yourself" , it is about how we talk to ourselves, especially when it comes to fitness.

We talk to ourselves all day. There is an internal dialogue going on inside. For some of us it is with a higher power (God),  for some it is a conversation with our own thoughts, and for others it is a one way conversation where your thoughts are controlling the actions that you take. 

I teach everyone that I work out with, or teach about fitness, that there comes a point in your training or running where stuff starts to get tough. During these times, self-talk is critical, what you tell yourself determines the outcome. If you tell yourself you can't do won't do it. If you tell yourself you will. Simple as that. 

"Everything is mind over matter...If you don't mind, it doesn't matter" - Navy SEAL's

Life is tough, so it is even more critical that we use this method of self-talk. By now you might be thinking, "Yeah, this is great, but how do I do it?"  

There are 4 ways that you can begin to create a positive internal dialogue with yourself:

  1. When you wake up in the morning, write down or pray about what you are thankful for.

  2. come up with a mantra that you can say to yourself when things get difficult, and you feel the pressure building.

    • Here are two that I use:

      • "Looking good, feeling good, oughta be in hollywoood"

      • "Slow and Steady, the pace wins the race"

  3. Start exercising

    • Nothing will make you feel more confident and comfortable in your own skin, than working out. You will always feel better after you do it. That's the reward.
    • If you are not sure where to start, then try the 6 week running plan or the 30 day fitness program.
  4. Start reading good books. Positive, motivating books.


Step 3: Create Sources of Confidence


The best way to combat fear, is to build confidence. When things get challenging, or we are up against something new and intimidating, it is imperative that we have reminders of what we have overcome, or accomplished.

There are three effective ways to develop a tool-chest of confidence:

  1. Set Goals

  2. Do hard stuff (do the the things you don't really want to do)

    • Read the 360 Man Call to Action

    • Everyone has an excuse about why they can't do something they don't want to do. Don't give yourself excuses. When asked, do it. If you see a need, fill it. If someone is struggling, help them.

    • This builds character, doesn't provide fanfare, and gives you little (If any) recognition. Don't do it because of the praise, do it because it will build character.

  3. Engage in Mentally and Physically challenging events especially ones that test your endurance.

    • Endurance builds character, and character builds confidence. (Spartan Races, Half-marathon's, 8 weeks to SEAL-FIT, Marathons, Triathlon's)
    • When you stretch yourself, and push your limits, you will start learning what you are really made of, how much your body can handle, and who you really are. You will inevitably start to develop a winning mindset.

Most of us dread physical exercise because we know that it will take work, and will likely hurt, or be painful. We focus on temporary discomfort as opposed to the rewards that come from repetition and consistency.


STEP 4: Repetition


I have a question that I always ask my kids when they try something new, or are struggling and become frustrated.

How do you get better at anything?

They always reply the same way. "By doing it over and over again, Dad."

The first time you do anything, it is usually scary, uncomfortable, challenging, and you might even fail. Hopefully, you fail.

When you fail (Not if). Don't quit. Learn from it, and do it again. Then do it again, and again.

You will eventually learn how to do it effectively and efficiently, and also the 400+ ways not to do it. Then you can teach others who are struggling with the same thing.

Repetition will help you when things fall apart as well. You will have done something so many times, that you can do it with your eyes closed.

In his book "8 Weeks to SEALFIT", Mark Divine tells a story of one of his SEAL buddies, getting tangled up in his gear, and plummeting to the bottom of the ocean, in the dark, without oxygen. He didn't panic. His training (repetition), had helped him to remain calm, even in the most darkest and dangerous of circumstances.

When things in life get dark and ominous, when the fear creeps in (because it will), chance will favor those who have prepared themselves by utilizing this four step approach.

  1. Learn to recognize your fears voice

  2. Learn to use self-talk

  3. Create Sources of Confidence (Goal Setting, be uncomfortable)

  4. Repetition

Comment below and Answer the following questions:

  1. How have these steps helped you navigate your own fears?

  2. What fears have you overcome recently?

  3. What are your biggest fears?

  4. Did you use any of the resources? Did they Help?

- Stephen

P.S. Just in case you thought I was long winded, and just scanned through this. Here are the resources that are available to you.

photo credit: clement127 Iron Lego via photopin (license)
photo credit: Moon Man Mike Intergalatic Exterminator via photopin (license)