The power of fear


Fear only has as much power as we give it space.

This quote from Josh Ritter came in a moment when I was pondering a possibility that made my blood pressure rise. I needed to address something with a contentious colleague, and was occupying my mind with worst case scenarios. In other words, I was giving this imagined fear a lot of power.

Have you ever done that?  Perhaps not, but I can tell you from personal experience that when I give fear that kind of power, I can become paralyzed. Frozen on the spot, as if I had gears as brains, all jammed up.

I’ve found ways to unjam those gears, and for what it’s worth, here’s what I do:

Recognize the physical feeling. There is no way of unjamming without first recognizing that you’re jammed. I know what that feels like: a clenching around my diaphragm, an obsessive urge to eat or blank out in some way. My body is screaming for comfort because it’s scared.

Physically Reframe. I smudge myself, or counter the frozen sensation with one that supports me.  The feeling I can count on is one that I call feeling landed. I can’t explain it all that well, and it doesn’t matter. These feelings and sensations are highly personal and unique to each of us. When I get to feeling landed, the freeze melts away, and the gears begin to move.

Act. Now I can act; I can decide what’s next. I can review the coming discussion from a calm and reasonable place. I can look realistically at both worst- and best-case scenarios, and plan.

Expect the best.  So much better than expecting the worst.  Plan for the worst – yes. But expect the best.



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Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at .



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