4 Mindshifts on Fear You Need to Have


Guest post from Alden Tan.

I got a very scary story to tell you.

I had an extremely fearful experience right in my bedroom the other day.

You see, I was in my room just watching some TV and having my dinner.


Suddenly out of nowhere, my right thumb had a weird, stiff sensation. It was lightning-quick, only for a few seconds.

For the rest of the night, I could not bend my thumb at all.

I immediately freaked out on the spot.

Why did I have this immense fear over a tiny thing.

Because the inability to move my thumb reminded me immediately of my dad, who died of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

ALS is a fatal disease which destroys one's neural transmitters. Basically, your body starts to disintegrate slowly because of the brains inability to send signals to the body.

Mysterious and incurable, no one has ever found out what causes ALS.

That night I feared I had ALS.

I certainly overreacted. I remember the terrifying grip of fear and how it grasped hold of me on the spot. My mind went wild with crazy ideas about how I was going to die in the next few years, slowly and painfully.

I felt my emotions implode, the shrapnel bouncing in and about.

I prayed to the universe or whoever was out there for help, promising that if all was okay, the next day, I'd lead life to the fullest and be thankful for whatever I have.

The next day my right thumb was back to normal, bending in all its glory.

Apparently I gripped my huge cup too tight for too long, causing it to stiffen up for a bit.

I felt kind of stupid thinking of my own death the night before, along with the "thumb exercises" I tried to do.

It was just a huge overreaction… with good cause.

Fear is one crazy emotion that when switched on, can totally change the course of your life. Fear is all around us, and anything we see can trigger that scary feeling within…

… meaning fear, in that sense, also exists within us, waiting to emerge.

Since my "prayers" have been answered, I thought a lot about the aspects of fear and how it affects our lives.

4 Mindshifts on fear you need to have

1) Fear is not the overreaction. 

You are.

That frightful feeling of anxiety that makes you feel all anxious inside isn't due to fear.

Fear is a very natural emotion that keeps you alert. It gives you the senses to be normal and not take unnecessary risks like jumping off a building.

It is your battle with fear that creates a conflict inside of you, hence giving you those uneasy feelings.

Once you recognize this, be wary of how your thoughts may go awry when you try to fight fear. It's simply in your head. So don't over think things like I did or your may end up creating wild scenarios which don't exist.

2) Control is an illusion

Most people create fear in themselves when they allow uncertainty to take over.

It is when we ask, "What if?", "Why?" or "What is it?" that causes us to be fearful and lose control. We can't predict the future.

But guess what? Control is pretty much an illusion.

Even if you are prepared and confident, can you honestly say you have a firm grip on life and that everything is going to go your way?

Life is a mystery. It's unpredictable. You can't stop undesirable things from happening.

Just live life, and go with the flow. Let go of control.

3) Embrace uncertainty

The future is uncertain, so control is an illusion.

We can never have a perfect rein over things.

Instead of cowering from uncertainty, embrace it.

Please share your thoughts below!

Alden Tan is a blogger who quite his job last year to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. He crafts his stories through his experiences as a break dancer and a bouncer at a club. He does it all with style by not caring about what others think.

Photo: Stuart Miles

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dan Garner November 1, 2012, 2:16 pm

    Fear or as you clarify in #1 above, reactions to fear, can destroy lives. I know several people that make almost all of their decisions based upon irrational fear. I know a 70 year old woman with a half-million dollars in the bank, house paid off, a retirement income, social security, and virtually no debt; yet she lives in constant fear of running out of money. Fear is not the problem, it is our reaction to fear.

    Learning to embrace uncertainty takes work for a fearful person. Taking small steps of “letting go” and a lot of positive mantras, reading, and possibly therapy can help.
    One thing that worked to help me let go of my anxieties and fears was to go ahead and state the worst case scenario, face that, and then make a plan to ensure that the worst case scenario would not happen.

    Thanks for the guidance.

    Dan @ ZenPresence

    • Tess November 1, 2012, 3:54 pm

      It just goes to show that even wealthy people are fearful. I love your worst case scenario exercise. It’s just all such a big fat illusion in our heads! Thanks for sharing.

    • Alden November 1, 2012, 10:59 pm

      Hey Dan,

      Indeed! Thanks for that story.

      Trying to control irrational fear can be an extremely hard thing to do, yet it’s so ironic! To actually try to control fear.

      Yes trying to visualize the worst case scenario helps. For me, I personally do the same too, but I recognize that it’s mostly in my head i.e. doesn’t exist yet. And I just live life happily instead of worrying if it would happen.

      • Stella November 17, 2012, 9:12 am

        This is such an interesting subject and something i am dealing with, trying to quit a job and pursue my dreams, or take it a step higher in my career. Letting go or walking out of what I have NOW. Maybe of of uncertainty, getting out of my comfort zone, being uncomfy, struggling to find something new…this is what is stopping me for moving forward. Not ready to leave what I already have yet deep down you know you re done with this cos you have been here long enough, you re getting bored and yor not growing. Some say someting is blocking your freedom, some say its the fear, some say you re not ready yet. Some say tapping will help, therapy will help. yet everytime I am close to my decision, someone says something and gets me out of focus, OR I start not sleeping at night and start getting anxious just by THINKING about what to do next. Strange 🙂 Sometimes i think all I can do is except myself as I am, and let go of what I want to do, and when the right time comes I am sure it will happen without any struggle. I dont know you guys think of this….

        Someone told me ‘whats the worst that can happen??’ I think for me the worst thing that can happen is having that sad feeling in your stomach that rips out yoru stomach, you re not relaxed anymore, you continue to think and think, you start not thinking right…you start not to eat …I been there once and I know that if I have that long ‘space’ and time in my hands…instead of trying to make the most of it and get out and do stuff…. (like I say I will) I do the opposite.

        I am not someone that havent travelled…i spent 5 years going around the world…now I go so grounded that I cant even walk out of a job.~Strange how we change !!! Keep up the good blogs, I really enjoyed reading them…

  • Galen Pearl November 1, 2012, 3:37 pm

    This post and the previous post really helped me work through something that has been triggering a lot of fear and anxiety in my life recently. I can see that I’m doing it, and I can usually shift, but then I find myself right back in fear and I have to shift over and over. These two posts helped me work through to a different perspective and understanding, which hopefully will help me move forward instead of in circles! Thanks!

    • Alden November 1, 2012, 11:02 pm

      Hey Galen,

      Glad it helped!

      What do you mean by shift exactly?

      I think understanding fear and gaining different perspectives would definitely help! It’s even very helpful to learn about others’ perspectives on fear based on the specific context even.

      • Galen Pearl November 3, 2012, 1:39 pm

        Alden, When I say shift, I mean that I shift out of the fear loop that my brain and body are engaged in. Like you, my mind can start spinning out dire scenarios. My body responds by releasing stress hormones. And the loop begins.

        Sometimes the scenario is something I’m replaying from the past; sometimes it is an anticipated misfortune. Either way, I try to look beneath the fear at the underlying beliefs and try to question them in a way that opens up my mind and heart and interrupts the fear loop.

  • Tess November 1, 2012, 3:55 pm

    So happy we at TBL can be of help. Sometimes I find that I have to shift several times a day. That’s why I’m so into affirmations! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Bobbi Emel November 1, 2012, 4:02 pm

    Alden, I’m glad you’re okay! Maybe it was meant to happen so you could share these lessons with us! Thanks for once again teaching us to not freak out even though something scares us.

    • Alden November 1, 2012, 11:03 pm

      Hey Bobbi,

      Yes indeed! The very next day it became the perfect blog post online!

      Haha well, if you freak out, just relax and go to sleep.


  • Betsy/Zen Mama November 1, 2012, 4:48 pm

    You hit everything right on the head here! I esp. like that control is an illusion. But Embrace Uncertainty is definitely the favorite! I’m looking forward to checking out your blog!!

    • Alden November 1, 2012, 11:05 pm

      Hey Betsy,

      Thank you!

      Embrace it all and just be happy!

  • Elle, motivational blogger November 1, 2012, 5:49 pm

    Alden you describe perfectly that old, new thought concept FEAR false evidence appearing real.

    Happy it was all an illusion. 🙂

    Love Elle

    • Alden November 1, 2012, 11:06 pm

      Hey Elle,

      Indeed! It’s always in our head, and then we mess it up further by letting it take control of our feelings!

      Speaking of acronyms, I read another one on fear the other day:

      F**k everything and run.

      Maybe it’d help some people 😛

  • Victor November 1, 2012, 6:55 pm

    I like the reminder to go with the flow — you can’t control things — control is an illusion. That was the biggest takeaway for me. This was a great post. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  • Alden November 1, 2012, 11:08 pm

    No problem Victor!

    Yep things are and always will be an illusion. Let loose a little. Don’t hold on to things too tightly!


  • Cathy | Treatment Talk November 2, 2012, 12:42 am

    Hi Alan,

    Great insights on fear. Our health is one of the biggest fears for many people and we can go to that irrational place fairly easily. I like them all, but “Control is just an illusion speaks to me.” Going with the flow causes less stress and more joy. Thanks for sharing.

    • Alden November 4, 2012, 9:34 am

      No prob Cathy! I’m glad they helped.

      That irrational place is a scary place… At the end of the day it’s simply only in our minds.

      And we just got to let it go, of control too that is.

  • Jo November 2, 2012, 6:26 am

    Hi great post – I love it. You’re right that fear is rarely ‘real’ it’s a combination of physical responses, memory, old patterns, rehearsing disaster, and testing our metal. Very few of which have anything to do with the here and now. But when we’re in it it sure feels real! Thanks for posting this

    • Alden November 4, 2012, 9:36 am

      Hi Jo,

      It’s real indeed, but only in our heads.

      We may have our expectations or defense-mechanisms of sorts, but I think it’s best to let it go and realize they don’t even exist yet!

  • Vidya Sury November 2, 2012, 9:06 am

    Alden, great to see you here! What a great post! You know, two years ago, when I had to visit the doc for a general check up and she told me I had to have a mammogram every year because of my high risk for breast cancer, first I was mad. Then I was scared. I’d imagine pains and all sorts of worst-case scenarios. A few days later, i was so mad at myself – I scolded myself, telling myself to appreciate what I have, not what I might be at risk for. Uncertainty is something we often grow/breed by feeding it our fear.

    Thanks for a great read! How’s the be-buoying going?

    Thank you Tess. Pleasantly delightful to see Alden’s post here.

    • Alden November 4, 2012, 9:39 am

      Hey Vidya!

      Glad to see you here too!

      Thanks for sharing that! Oh man I can totally relate to you. When I thought I had ALS, I was just going insane in my room! I felt like I was already dying and it honestly the first time I felt the fear of death itself.

      Now THAT’S scary.

      Bboying is going great as usual! It’s helping me shape a product I’m making now 🙂

  • Tania Belkin November 2, 2012, 1:50 pm

    Wow, this is a great lesson. What really hit home for me was when you said that Control is an illusion. It is so true 🙂

    • Alden November 4, 2012, 9:40 am

      Glad it helped Tania!

      It is an illusion indeed. I keep coming across that idea in many personal development blogs.

      Just let go of control, and flow with life.

  • KarenYvonne November 7, 2012, 2:03 pm

    Thanks for this great article. It has reminder me to stop worrying so damn much, most of the time the outcome isn’t so bad anyway. thanks


  • Logan M November 7, 2012, 4:41 pm

    This was a good post. Nice and deep. Much different then I bet most people think about when they fear something. Fear seems to be a involuntary reaction. However, you show a way you can control it. Great job!

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