Breaking the Fear Habit

I chatted with a friend the other night, and he told me that he’s not afraid of anything. That nothing scares him.  And that made me wonder, as a life-long worrier and scaredy-cat, how can that be? And if he’s not afraid, can I break the fear habit ingrained in my very core? A habit that started during my childhood, during periods of little-to-no food and walking on (non-literal) eggshells so as not to anger my bi-polar father? A habit that manifested itself in many ways throughout my life?

Because of fear, for example, I:

  1. Placed last in competition the year I finally got to attend horse camp. (I would have been around 12 years old. I felt too afraid to enjoy riding the horse, even though I’d wanted to since forever.)
  2. Didn’t buy my dream car – a 1966 fire-engine-red Mustang convertible with white top.  In immaculate condition. For practically nothing.
  3. Stayed married to the wrong man for far too long.
  4. Haven’t finished the novel I started in 1996, a novel with a character I love, and whose story I must finish telling.
  5. Stayed in a job with a culture of unethical behavior and horrible treatment of its staff. (Thankfully, I didn’t stay very long.)

After pondering it, I’ve come to believe that fear is a habit. And, since it’s a habit, I CAN break it. I can tell fear: “thank you fear, I appreciate your concern, but I don’t need you anymore. I can do anything. I won’t let you hold me back anymore.”

Will this be hard work? Heck yeah. But, I have proof that I can overcome it. I kept teaching a college course despite the fear of student reprisals after I did something they didn’t like. I divorced my first husband and made a new life, and am now married to a wonderful man. When I got laid off from my corporate job, I started pursuing my true self and a new career: art and words. I got a book contract and finished a book (not MY book, but still. A book. Written by me).

Can I break this habit of fear? Absolutely. As many times as I have to break it, I will.

More ramblings / other posts you might want to read...


About dSavannah

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17 Responses to Breaking the Fear Habit

  1. Barry Pitts says:

    Fear is a great motivator. I hate how politicians use it to motivate people to vote for them. Instead of stating the good things about themselves they tell us why we should be afraid of voting for the other person. They want us to be afraid at all times, I refuse.

  2. David Foster says:

    When I was about 12, I asked my mom what her biggest regrets in life were. She paused and thought for a moment. I figured I was gonna hear some story about her mischievous behavior and how she regretted skipping school or something like that. Instead, she told me that her biggest regrets were of the things she didn’t do rather than the things she did. She was held back by fear. Fear of failure…fear of being different…fear of getting lost. You are so right. Fear is a habit that can be broken. You don’t have to overcome feeling it, you just have to go forward anyway. Thanks for your blog…I look forward to reading more!

  3. EllieAnn says:

    This is such a good topic. I feel like anytime I conquer fear in one area of my life, it crops up in another. It takes constant surveillance to keep it at bay. Thanks so much for the reminder, m’dear.

  4. Emmers says:

    Fear is like weeds. It keeps coming back, but you keep spraying it. With Fear Killer. :)

  5. HeySusan says:

    A wonderful (and very irreverent) friend and co-worker of mine has a saying: when dealing with a challenging / scary situation, he invariably says “Look, nobody’s going to wind up on a respirator here. Let’s just get it done.” Funny, and a little shocking the first time you hear it, but it has a great way of putting things in perspective: if you try and fail, no matter how scary it gets, as long as you’re breathing you can still try again.

  6. Pingback: A Cascade of Fear | JLGentry – Author

  7. I was guided here by Jerry Gentry’s blog and as I was reading your post wondered if we had led parallel lives! OMG – as they say. Anyway, thanks for writing this. It hit the nail on the head for me and as I’m in the middle of launching a project that will reveal another creative side of me, I’ve been feeling the usual fear. Your post helped very much.

    BTW – I love HeySusan’s quote – and plan to post it next to my laptop!

  8. Jaccimo Huemmojuedes says:


  9. carsoncanada says:

    You are bang on, Fear is a habit of thought and all our fears had their origins in our childhood as we attempted to withstand the experience of becoming a human being according to the present worldview for our species. Having come down a similar road, I write novels that, to a great extent, involve the protagonist’s route to moving beyond fear. You are wise and gutsy and that is indeed needed. One thing that helps is seeing, truly seeing that in the moment of any fear, your environment is not it’s source, your ancient habits are, and they have nothing to do with the moment in which they are presently experienced. Seeing that is what helps you to see what a bloody illusion they are. We’re the only creature on this earth that lives in fear. That should be our first clue that we’ve gotten something rather mucked up. And trust me, there are far finer ways to motivate oneself than the costly route of fear.

  10. Betsy says:

    What a wonderful post! Glad that I do not have to make a list of items that happened/didn’t happened because of fear. I would be here forever making that list. Best thing came from not giving into fear — meeting my hubby! I will aim to not be living by fear anymore!

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