Choose not to run away from what you fear.
The other day, I had coffee with a friend who said he is scared and insecure of the future. His business has been struggling and he is not sure about what to do: “I am not able to function freely. My fear is chewing me up.”
Fear is a very natural response to inscrutable Life situations. Fear will arise when you are clueless or are dealing with the unknown. What will happen if I am not able to get an income? How will I pay my bills? What will people think or say about me? What if my Life ends up being this way forever? These, and more, questions are what my friend is dealing with. This is what I told him: “You can’t prevent fearful thoughts from coming up within you. What you can do, however, is to learn to reason with yourself about the futility of such thinking.”
Ask yourself, what is the use of being fearful in a situation? Any situation. Can your being fearful about a situation change it to the way you want it to be? Of course not. So the best response to fear and debilitating thoughts is to just let them be. Face them. Don’t run away from them. Focus all your energies on what you can do in that given situation. No matter how grave a situation is, you can always be useful, you can surely do something meaningful in it. Immerse yourself in doing whatever you can. The criteria for your thought and action must be that they must be constructive and useful. Clearly, worrying or feeling fearful is not useful. So, barring indulging in those two, do whatever else you can.
You will find that your mind amazingly adapts to whatever you focus on. Supposing you are worried stiff and you love painting, if you paint, you will find your worries either dissolving or receding to the background. The more you train your mind not to attend to fearful thoughts, the more it will immerse itself in the moment. This may appear impossible to do in the beginning. But you have to keep at it. Over time, the mind learns to follow your new direction.
Another important point to note is that it always helps, especially in a situation when fear is gnawing at you from within, to immediately prepare for the worst case. In any situation, just be prepared to face the worst – and, instantaneously, your fear will evaporate. This is how you learn, this is how you train your mind in fact, to face your fear. When you face what torments you, it becomes powerless.
Remember this – what you run away from, always comes chasing. If you run away from your fears and insecurities, without doubt, they will come after you. Instead if you turn around and face them, if you immerse yourself in doing what inspires you, in what you love doing, in what makes you useful or when you indulge in any action that can help you turnaround a situation that is scary or worrisome, you will find that your worries and fears don’t torment you anymore.
Clearly, you can’t prevent fear from arising. But you can make it powerless by taking it head on, by facing it.