Fear 2

Fear part 2 – Managing Fears

What are the best ways to manage your fears if they’re causing problems for you?
(889 words)
IELTS Reading Questions:
Summary Completion and Matching Information

Fear is natural and can be helpful, but for many people it can become a problem that limits their lives. If fear is a problem for you, the following three techniques might be useful: allowing yourself to feel your fears, changing how you think about fear, and doing the things you’re afraid of.

Psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach explains that when we’re scared, we often think the fear is bad, like it shouldn’t be happening, so we try to push it away or control it. But instead of pushing it away, she says we should accept it and allow it to be there, and adds that fear often means you’re on the edge of your comfort zone and about to grow.

Tara suggests that when you notice you are caught by fear, for example if your mind is racing with fear thoughts, you should pause and name it, like ‘that’s fear’, or ‘I’m really scared right now’. Naming something takes away some of its power and reduces how much it controls you, and you will be more able to be kinder to yourself, check whether your fear thoughts are accurate, or even change your thinking to ‘about to grow’.

Fear will always be with us, so we should accept it as part of life, psychologist Susan Jeffers says. However, we can change the way we think about it: Jeffers argues that underneath all your fears is the fear that you won’t be able to handle whatever happens, so a key technique is to change your thinking to ‘I’ll handle it’ – remind yourself that whatever happens, you’ll deal with it and be okay. In addition to this, she says that you need to manage your negative self-talk – the voice in your head that talks about all the things that could go wrong. Notice it, and try to replace it with a kinder voice, she says.

As well as changing your thinking, Jeffers believes that doing the things you’re afraid of is the best way to reduce the fear and feel better about yourself. She suggests taking a risk every day to expand your comfort zone and become stronger. If you avoid the things you’re afraid of, they will always be there as something to fear and will leave you with an underlying feeling of helplessness. But if you take the risk and face them, you’ll grow in confidence about your ability to handle things and realise that you can face some of the other difficulties in your life.

So how do we go about feeling, re-thinking, and facing some of our common fears from the previous article: death, rejection, failure, and missing out?

Fear of death.
Our fear of death leads many of us to avoid thinking about it, but some believe that connecting with and accepting the reality of death can actually help us to live more fully and appreciate what we have. Irvin Yalom argues that ‘the idea of death may save us’, explaining that being in touch with the fact that death is coming has helped him to value his life and what’s important, and worry less about the things that aren’t important.

Fear of rejection.
To reduce how much this fear limits your life, neuropsychologist Theo Tsaousides suggests thinking about what situations you’re avoiding because you’re afraid that they might lead to rejection; then decide whether what you want is important enough to take the risk of being rejected. In addition to this, it’s worth checking whether your beliefs are accurate – for example, is it true that people would reject you if you let them see the ‘unattractive’ parts of you? And remember: if you are rejected, you’ll get over it.

Fear of failure.
When you’re worried that you might fail at something, it’s a good idea to try to get in touch with what it is exactly that you’re afraid of, according to psychologist Ellen Hendrickson; think about what’s underneath the fear. She adds that it’s also useful to think about both what you want to achieve and the obstacles that might stop you being successful, and prepare what you would do if you did fail. And remember that if you do fail, you’ll handle it, and the way to feel better about yourself is to go out and do it.  

Fear of missing out (FOMO).
The suggestions Tchiki Davis gives for managing FOMO are a bit more practical: she suggests simply taking breaks from your phone, for example by silencing messages while you’re socialising or doing something important, or taking even longer breaks from social media. Tara Brach adds that if you get in touch with what you’re feeling when you’re experiencing FOMO, you might even realise that what you actually want is already here.

To summarise, here’s an idea from psychologist Jordan Peterson about how facing fears can help you to grow. He explains that fears and problems are like the dragons in western mythologyin many old stories, the frightened hero has to confront and kill the dragon, after which he gets the gold or the princess. Peterson says, ‘the thing that you most need is always where you least want to look’; the dragon represents the thing you’re avoiding because you’re afraid of it, and the gold you get after you have faced it is the thing you most need.

Are there any dragons that you need to face today? Who could you grow into if you did?

IELTS Reading Questions for Fear Part 2:
Summary Completion & Matching Information.

Sources and links from Fear Part 2

– Part 1 of Tara Brach’s talk about facing fear. There is a part 2 available on her website.
– Part 1 of Tara Brach’s talk about awakening from fear. There is a part 2 available on her website.
– The website for Susan Jeffers. The information in the article came from her book Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.
Irvin Yalom’s website. The information in the article came from his book Love’s Executioner.
Psychology Today article about fear of rejection by Theo Tsaousides.
Psychology Today article about fear of failure by Ellen Hendrickson.
Psychology Today article about FOMO by Tchiki Davis.
– Image by RENE RAUSCHENBERGER from Pixabay

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This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Kimberlie

    The dragon analogy was powerful for me. I’ve learned over the years that as humans we do tend to try to avoid the fears in our lives instead of facing them.

    1. Nick

      Thanks for your comment, Kimberlie.
      I also love the dragon idea.

  2. Nart

    This is such a great post. I’m trying to confront my fears right now. it’s hard, but I’m gonna try harder.

    1. Nick

      Thanks again Nart. You’re a star.
      It is hard, but good for you for trying to confront them.

  3. Suky

    Hi,Nick~How are you?
    Nice article! It’s specific, executable and useful for me.
    July is an opportunity for me to look back the first half year and adjust the schedule of the second. Too much time had to spend at home. Good news is I fond an interest in cooking and baking. Bad news is… I’ve put on weight…🙃 To hold back this horrible trend, I‘m trying some simple exercise.
    Take care~

    1. Nick

      Hi Suky.
      I’m okay. I’ve just started back at work after a long break because of covid. I’ve put on a bit of weight, too.
      Glad you liked the article, and good luck with your plans for the second half of the year and the cooking and baking!

  4. Ann

    Nice article👍, I feel I began to have a strong power to face all kinds of fears now.

    It’s true that many times we just pretend to be in the comfort zone and there will be no fear, but that doesn’t mean that life is always good. Accepting fear can make us stronger✊

    1. Nick

      Thanks Ann. Glad you liked it.
      Keep studying – good luck with IELTS and everything else!

  5. Reka

    Hi Nick,
    thanks so much for all the articles.
    Would be much obliged and thankful if you can teach me How I can download the articles to print out for myself? I am not tech-savvy.?

    Thanks very much.


    1. Nick

      Hi Reka
      Glad you liked the articles.
      It’s not possible to download them at the moment. The wesbite is quite new, and I’m still working on it. I hope to add a ‘download to PDF’ function in the future, but for now, you can only read them online.

    2. Efildah Madondo

      Thank you very much with this difficult matching information was really a hard but to crack ,but at least I have managed to get all the five questions correct. Summary completion was much easier.

      1. Nick

        Well done Efildah.
        Keep practising.

  6. Amit Chawla

    Nice article!!!!!!
    At the end of article , I get over with some negative thoughts which continuously striking to my mind nowdays. Little bit related to IELTS. This site is really gonna help to get good bands

    1. Nick

      Hi Amit.
      Thanks for your comment – I’m glad that you got something useful from the article.

  7. Pooja

    Thanks a ton Nick!!
    This is really going to do wonders.
    Could you also introduce T/F/NG question based on these stories?

    1. Nick

      Hi Pooja.
      Glad you like the website.
      The articles ‘Man’s Best Friend’, ‘Morning Routines’ and ‘Too Much Choice?’ have T/F/NG questions.

  8. Jolie

    Hi, Nick
    Thank you for sharing these strategies, and they are worth to try.
    There are lots of work to do to face the fear, especially something we haven’t noticed.
    How to live with our own fear is always the issue we have to deal with.
    Difficult, but worthy.

    1. Nick

      Thanks Jolie.
      I like the ‘I’ll handle it’ idea – it was a new one to me when I started reading about this topic.
      But yeah, easy to say it, but difficult to feel it.

  9. Agadhaa

    Hi, Can I write DEAL as the answer for question number 4??

    1. Nick

      Hi Agadhaa.
      Yes. Thanks for pointing that out.
      It would have to be ‘deal with’, but yes, that’s a good answer.
      I’ve changed the answer key to ‘handle / deal with’,

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