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Defusing the F-bomb: Understand Your Fear to Defeat It

It’s time to get those feelings under control. Here’s how understanding your fears can help to defuse them.
by Conor O'Rourke | Mar 9 2015
Fear can be make-or-break at the most important moments of your professional life.


Imagine it’s the day of your bar exam. You’ve revised everything. Your preliminary grades are top-notch. Yet, sitting down to face that white paper, your hands are shaking. Your mind is racing. Some might call it butterflies. Here’s the less colloquial term for what’s going on: fear.

Whether it’s a crucial pitch, the job interview for the dream position, or a my-career-depends-on-this deadline – fear’s got your number. You can bet your house of cards on it.

The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer expounds on ways to overcome your fear. Here’s how he says you can overcome that most irritating of primal instincts through understanding it, ensuring that you’re on your A-game when you most need it.

Understanding fear: the Ulysses example

Ever read Ulysses? Michael A. Singer begins his explanation of how to overcome fear by referencing the renowned Irish author, James Joyce. Joyce’s acclaimed novel Ulysses pioneered a new type of narration, one in which Joyce brought readers directly into the mind of his protagonist, Leopold Bloom. Joyce subjected readers to a rushing stream of feelings, impressions, thoughts, and worries in one exhilarating mix.

Why is this relevant? Pay attention to your mind for a minute. Isn’t that what’s happening in there as well? There’s a voice in your head and it’s working overtime, noticing the features of the outside world. There’s the trees rushing past on your daily commute, the worker bees in front of you in the lunchtime queue for coffee, and tons of other stuff, too. Your schedule tomorrow. Your comments to your colleague yesterday. The content is different, but what’s happening in your head and in Bloom’s is essentially the same.

And nestled within this mind-maelstrom? It’s fear. The idea Untethered Soul promotes is that fear, to your consciousness, is just like all those other emotions and feelings. Sure, for you, it’s often a stronger one than others. But to your consciousness – it’s just one in a big pack! It’s no different from the others – so why does it bother you more?

Moving past the fear

So what should you do to make your conscious self realize this? One suggestion is meditation. This way you can get more grounded in your consciousness and notice the thoughts and feelings going through it without getting caught up in them. So, take a deep breath. Notice the feeling of fear. Then, let it go. You’ve got better things to do than worry.

We all have our fears. Learn more about overcoming them, and using them to your professional advantage, in Michael A.Singer’s The Untethered Soul. Or, you can check out the Blinkist summary – it’ll only take you 12 minutes.

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