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How to Overcome Fear

Jul 18, 2021

As humans, we all experience fear at different points in our lives. And from the outset, I think it's important that we agree that fear is a very natural experience - and one that has kept the human race alive for many a century. If we didn't have the fear response, we would have ended up further down the food chain a few millennia ago. If fear never existed we would have probably walked in front of a speeding car at the age of four and thought nothing of it. At a very basic level, fear keeps us alive. 

However, fear can also creep into our every day life. Fear can wash over us as we think about stepping onto a stage to talk in front of two hundred people. Fear can overcome us as we are about to walk into that final examination at University. Fear can attack when we are about to go on that first date. All of these responses are perfectly normal, but they are debilitating on so many levels. 

F.E.A.R = False Evidence Appearing Real

Often we create an inner narrative about the catastrophic possibilities of some highly improbable event. Let's face it, we've all done it. I can recall sitting on a plane when some turbulence struck and for the life of me, I was convinced I was going to die. Yet, I had been in the same situation literally hundreds of times prior. Essentially, we start to develop a habit (an automated response) so that our fear becomes hardwired into our subconscious mind. I could have predicted my response to the turbulence on the plane, but I had no conscious control over it - until of course I started diving into the psychology of it all.

What are the symptoms of fear?

  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hot flushes or chills
  • The sensation of "butterflies" in your stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest

The fear response involves a universal biochemical response as well as a high individual emotional response. Fear alerts us to the presence of danger or the threat of harm, whether that danger is physical or psychological.  And those threats can be real or imagined. 

Some fears may be a result of experiences or trauma, while others may represent a fear of something else entirely, such as a loss of control. Other fears may occur because they cause physical symptoms, such as being afraid of heights because they make you feel dizzy.

In this week's podcast, I share six steps to overcoming or diminishing your fears. Here's a quick overview:

  1. Admit that it's a fear and realize that its false evidence appearing real.
  2. Create more positive self-talk.
  3. Visualize your desired outcome.  
  4. Attach a stimulus, such as movement, exercise or even music. Everyone's got different ways of lifting their frequency, but for me music is a big one.
  5. Take action. Don't just think about it, take some action,
  6.  And then lastly, make sure there's a reward.  For you it could be a massage, it could be a trip away, it could be a nice dinner, or it could be a new piece of clothing.  

Don't put too much pressure on yourself and just roll with it. And in fact, I'd love to hear from you. If you have a fear that you know you're currently facing. Whether that fear is swimming, jumping out of planes, asking that person out on a date or ending a relationship that you've been in for quite some time. I would love to hear from you. So be sure to drop me a DM on Instagram or by email ([email protected]). 


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Full Transcript

The following is the full transcript of this weeks episode of the Life On Purpose Podcast with James Laughlin. For weekly motivation please subscribe to the Apple Podcast, Spotify or YouTube Channel.


 Speaker : James Laughlin - Life Coach and Leadership Coach, Christchurch, New Zealand 00:01 


Welcome to Life on Purpose. My name is James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion musician and now a success coach to leaders and high performers. Each week, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you live your life on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today and investing in yourself. Enjoy the show!    


Before we jump into today's episode, I want to tell you about the purpose club. I started the purpose club quite some time ago, so that I could coach people of all backgrounds. Not everybody has access to coaching. And certainly, it can be at all people's price range. So, I wanted to create a community where I coach my members each month and it's incredibly affordable. And I do a deep dive monthly live session and deliver my best techniques, strategies and habits. And I impart great lessons on leadership, motivation, mindset, abundance, habit installation, and you're creating a lasting legacy. There's free replays in there from all the previous live casts, there's high impact worksheets for you to take home and actually work through throughout the month, you'll receive weekly planning emails with actual planners to fill out your week, you'll get a weekly self-evaluation email, where you can evaluate yourself on all different levels, relationship, life, business, wealth, career, everything that you want, you'll get weekly journal prompts to really get your mind tuned into that higher level thinking. And also on a monthly basis, you'll get planning worksheets and reflections for your month. So, if you would like to learn about it, please get in touch with me or someone in my team, you know, jump on Instagram James Laughlin official, drop me a DM or you can email me James at jjlaughlin.com or just go to the website jjlaughlin.com and check it out. Enjoy the show and I hope to see some of you guys over in the purpose club.  



I'd like to take today to chat about fear. It's one of those things that we tend to brush under the carpet and forget about or procrastinate on. But often the things that we fear, they're there for a reason. And I always believe that, you know, if you can look at your fears and admit your fears, then it's often a little bit easier to overcome them. And in today's society of no positive psychology, which is amazing for what it is. I feel that sometimes we're told to suppress our fears or in a really strong masculine way, like push through our fears.   








 But actually, you know, for me, I've had to take a different approach and I thought I'd just share it with you so like my personal one of my personal fears that I've had for you know, well over two decades is water, right? I don't mean drinking the stuff like I like drinking this stuff. But I mean being in the water, right? So large bodies of water, that's a fear, you know, being on a boat heading across the Irish Sea, or, you know, heading across from picked into Wellington here in New Zealand, the rough ocean there. I don't love it, you know, the thought of going on a cruise and being out in the open sea. Yeah, not my cup of tea. Captain Phillips, the film horrific. So, deep end of the swimming pool, just as scary. Now, my mum and dad certainly from a young age encouraged us to get lessons and we went on lessons. And I remember mum and dad taken us to the pool. And I think you know, from a very young age, I enjoyed the water. But there's always this apprehension. And I remember my dad saying that often when I was even sitting in the bath if he was pouring a cup of water over my head to rinse the soap from my hair, that often it would take my breath away. So, this subconscious fear lay within for many years. But I guess what I want to share with you is that that cost me a lot and it costs me joy and it cost me experiences. You know, I traveled to beautiful places like I remember mom and dad taking us to Mallorca, a Spanish Island, the Balearic Island, and I didn't get into the sea I didn't get into the swimming pool and if I did, I made sure it was where I could stand up and then go into Canada, you know, I spent six beautiful summers in Vancouver Canada when I was 18. And yeah, I was living at a house that had a swimming pool. And I get in rarely or just sit by the pool and bake. So, you know I was just avoiding these opportunities and then moving down to New Zealand you know spent a lot of time traveling to Fiji, Vanuatu, Sagmore, and then in the last 10 years been to Hawaii almost every year pre-COVID and again, just avoiding the water. So, what an opportunity that I'm losing out on, you know, all the snorkeling around Australia that I could have done, and swimming in, you know, beautiful warm waters of Thailand traveling through there and always avoided. And to me, that's a great cost when I, you know, let that fear really dictate what I was doing, then to me, that's such a loss. 



So, I needed some leverage to push through this fear. And my leverage, believe it or not, was Finn, my son, Finn. So, when I became a dad, I decided like, this is ridiculous, I cannot swim, I got to be able to swim. And for me, it was a couple of things. One, I wanted to be able to help him if he needed my help in water. And two, I wanted him to see that, you know, Dad was capable of some of these basic life skills. So, he was my leverage. And, you know, a lot of things changed. When Finn came along a lot of my priorities and perspective change and habits as well. So, for me, it was okay, where do I go? Like, I know, I want to do it, but it's such a strong, deep seated fear. So, what I did is I went through this process of admitting it was fear. And to me what fear stands for is false evidence appearing real, right? To me, that's what F.E.A.R. stands for false evidence appearing real. And we create that narrative in our mind. You know, if I was to ask you to think about your fear, whether it's seeing a tarantula crawling over your face, whether it's a Python wrapped around you, whether it's jumping out of an airplane, whatever your fear is, I want you to think about that and acknowledge that it's false evidence appearing real, because you're not actually there yet, you're not jumping off that plane yet. And when you look at the statistics, you know, jumping off a plane or swimming in water, you know, the chances of dying from jumping off a plane or getting bitten by a shark, those chances are minimal, compared to being injured or being killed in a car crash. And we jump in a car, most of us every day that week, right?  


So, first step for me was admitting that, you know, this is false evidence that that's appearing to be real. So, you know, what, is the water that scary? Probably not. Am I just adding this narrative and building it making it bigger than what it should be? Yeah, I think I'm doing that for sure. So that was the first step. And then the second step was to create some different inner dialogue to change the narrative, right? And I call it incantations. So, some people will call them, you know, positive affirmations. But for me, it was about changing that inner narrative. So, to me, it was I can't write such a negative narrative, right? So, I changed it to I am an amazing swimmer. And for me to believe that was like, so difficult to believe I'm an amazing swimmer. Why? Because I wasn't, I couldn't do it. I was not an amazing swimmer. So, it was creating this narrative. And then for me to like, double down and actually start to believe that I needed to go to the next kind of level for me that was visualizing what the outcome would look like. So, for me, it was like, okay, visualizing the motion of me swimming, like, what does that look like? How do I my first goal actually was just to float, can I get into water moves to the deep end of that swimming pool, and stay afloat? And so that, for me was the first goal. So, I visualized what those movements look like. So, believe it or not, I jumped on YouTube. I was like, how do you tread water? Right? How ridiculous some of you guys are thinking, James, this is like a basic life skill at a three-year-old can do, right? So, here's a 30-year-old trying to figure it out. So, I looked at those basic motions, and then I started doing them just sitting on my seat, like doing the motions like crazy, right? Then I would visualize that. So, I'd say I am an amazing swimmer, I'd set with feeling like I am an amazing swimmer, I wouldn't just kind of half asset and pretend that I was an amazing swimmer, I'd set to the point where my subconscious would start to believe it. Then I'd visualize the motions like actually, in my mind, I'd visualize the location. So, for me, you'll laugh. The smell of chlorine, like walking close to a swimming pool would set me off, it would bring the fear on it would get my heart rate up, it would make me sweat like whoa, crazy, right? So, for me, it was like visualizing the scene, smelling the smells, and experiencing the feeling so I started to feel like what it might feel like to float in deep water. And so that was a daily occurrence sometimes those doing that two or three times a day. Now, when we attach a stimulus, to the incantations and the visualization, that's when we start to have some momentum built. So, for me, you know, one of the best stimulus to help me at a better frequency, from my mindset point of view to develop belief is music. Now as a drummer, that just comes naturally for other people. It will be high energy activity, right? For me, it's music. So, I got a track and really like uplifting track. And when I was in the car, I would blast this music, I would say I am an amazing swimmer. And I would visualize with my eyes open, but I'd visualize being at the pool, and the smells and the feelings and treading water, right? So, I was going through all of this quite, you know, quite a process, quite a commitment. But all the while, I was reminded myself, why am I doing this? Well, it’s for Finn.That wasn't for me, because often, as humans, we will do more for others than we will for ourselves. Is that logical? Not at all. But it's what we tend to do for people we love, we tend to go above and beyond. So, he was my leverage, right? little Finn. Now, the next step was done all this visualization, all these incantations, attach the stimulus of music. Next step is actually taking some action, this were thing, this is where my fear started to level up again, right? So, I wanted to go and get swim lessons, right?  

I wanted to go and get someone independently to teach me one to one. I didn't want to go to a group lesson. I wanted to get one to one. Why? Because I know that when you get one to one, it shortcuts the process you can get there quicker, right? So, I find this tiny swim school out in the countryside. And I can get a one-to-1 20-minute lesson on a thought that's not long. But I soon actually realized that 20 minutes was long for a beginner swimmer. So, I get there, I'm nervous as hell, I'm blasting that tune and say my incantations like a crazy guy driving to this lesson, right? First lesson. And I just dropped Finn off at his godmothers’ house, who lived quite close by and she knew and her husband knew I was going for the swim lesson. They probably thought I was nuts as well. But I really needed to do it. So, I got to the destination, starting to feel the nerves starting to feel anxiety, you know, go through some breathing techniques, do my visualization one last time. So, I head into the venue, right? Here's where it gets really challenging. Head into the venue. It's a small swimming pool. And there's probably seven or eight mums sitting on chairs, watching all of their kids get lessons, right? I'm the only adult in the building that's getting a lesson. Everyone is aged between like four and 12. And all these moms sitting watching their kids, and thinking, oh my goodness, what am I doing here? What am I doing? Like it's not too late to leave. And I put hand on heart and say I was so close to go and screw this. This is not for me. But I had done so much work mentally, beforehand. And I knew what my why was that I was like, no, I got to stay. Who cares what these moms think? Like this is for my boy. What I'm doing right now is for my boy. And I want to explain that a little more like, as humans, we all have fears, right? One of the biggest fears is fear of humiliation, right? And studies have shown that humans would rather be, you know, hurt physically, like physical pain, they've received physical blow, or hit some kind of breakage of a limb. They'd rather do that than be humiliated in public. How crazy is that? But it's built in that we don't want to be publicly embarrassed or shamed or humiliated. Hence, the reason that public speaking is so challenging for a lot of people. So, my fear of humiliation kicked in. It's like, well, I'm this 30-year-old man standing in my swimming shorts, at this pool with a bunch of kids who are getting one to one lesson, and I'm about to get a one-to-one lesson. This is horrific, right? So much of me was like, run, get it here. But I'd done the work. I had a system. And I knew my why. And so, I got my lesson, and it went fine. And then I came back the next week and did it again. So, I did about probably seven or eight lessons. And it starting to build momentum and started to realize I can no tread water. The moment I treaded water was phenomenal, right? Just a simple, simple act like that. It was such a breakthrough for me. And part of the process for me is like okay, when I do something where I'm facing a fear of doing something that's kind of a stretch, I feel it's really important to have a reward, right, we've got to have rewards. And I've talked with some of you guys before who've listened to some of the earlier episodes about the habit loop, right, we have a habit loop where you know, we have this trigger that triggers the habit, then we have the actual behavior itself. But to finish the loop off, we need a reward and that releases dopamine. So, for me, my reward was pretty huge because this was a huge fear. So, my reward was to go to Fiji to Tony Robbins resort at Namale and do the life and wealth mastery as a 10 day, seven to eight, seven to 10 Day event. I can't remember it's been a few years now. But the first half is all about life. And the second half is all about wealth and you do detox, you do colon cleanses let's not go there. You drink green juice. You It's amazing. There's a real reset mentally and physically, spiritually, financially. Now, I knew that going there, there would be Tony's big waterfall in the rain forest. And at the bottom of the waterfall, you can swim. And you're on one of the one of the days, you get to walk there and have some downtime and go swimming. So, I'll never forget the moment I got there. And I had the confidence to get in before I just would have looked at the waterfall, but that's nice. I got end of the waterfall, and slowly move myself away from the edge and floated. 

I was like, yes, I did it, I've got a photo. And I look back in that photo. And I'm like, yes, that's the reward. So, for me, that was a journey, I have to tell you, that didn't happen in five minutes, you know, it wasn't a quick, I'm just going to swim, I'm going to get over the fear. So, I want to say to you that a lot of people in the personal development sphere will talk to you about you know, face your fears head on and push through them and be you know, be strong and fight them fight your fear. And for me, it was different. And I feel that everyone knows should approach it in their own way. But for me, it was more so an acknowledgement and respect of that fear. And then dancing with that fear, like, hey, let's kind of I'll do a bit and push it and see how we go. And then I'll get pushed back a little bit, you know, that push back was you know, getting to the swimming pool, and the humiliation, and then I danced with it and got into the pool. And that was me, you know, taking control again. And then the next week, you know, when I went back, I still had that fear of going in and should I or shouldn't I. So, you know, it's important to just approach it in the way that works for you. And not everyone wants to beat their chest and scream at their fears. Other people want to do it in a more sustainable way want to do it, you know more, to me, it's the more heart centered way for me. It wasn't about you know, getting the punch bag out and screaming and doing that. For me, it was just gently moving towards it, putting the right infrastructure in place, and having the outcome super important. Now, you may ask, am I a triathlon swimmer now? No, I'm not. I'm not an amazing swimmer at all. But I can swim, I can do the basics. I can float. Now, do I do all the time? No, now, next level for me is getting into cold water. Right my partner Caroline's keen to get me out there and get me into the cold water. So that's the next phase is getting into the sea when it's cold and trying to build that little bit of confidence there as well. So, for me, it's going to be an ongoing thing. But I've pushed through the initial fear, I've got some basic skills, and it's given me the confidence to apply that to other fears.  



So, I want to give you guys just those six steps, little overview of those six steps. So, if you've got a fear, you can apply this process and it will help you push through it will help you get to the other side or help you towards your desired reality, okay, of overcoming that fear or diminishing that fear. So, step number one is you've got to admit that it's a fear and realize that its false evidence appearing real. Second step is you've got to create more positive self-talk. So, create some incantation. So, for me, it was I'm an amazing swimmer. So, for you think about your fear, and then think about what it would be to be a badass in that realm and say I am, or I can write and then follow up with what it might be. Third, visualize your desired outcome. You know what motions physical motions, you might be taking the location of where this fear might be, you know, overcome, and the feelings the internal feelings that you will be feeling whilst you're doing it. Four, attach a stimulus, so as I say, could be high energy, movement, like exercise, could be music. Everyone's got different ways of lifting their frequency, but for me music is a big one. Step five, take action. Don't just think about it, take some action, I don't think that you need to take action right away, you know, it's healthy to get some infrastructure psychologically in place first, then take your action, right? So, for me, that was book a swim lesson, right? That's your action and show up and show up again and show up again, repetition is what we need. And then lastly, number six, make sure there's a reward, right? For me, that was a big reward heading away to Fiji to this life and wealth event. It was brilliant. So, I want you to come up with the reward. For you it could be a massage, it could be a trip away, it could be a nice dinner, or it could be a new piece of clothing. Whatever it might be, you get to decide that which is cool. So, I want to wish you the very best in facing your fears. And having fun whilst doing it and learning about yourself.  

Don't put too much pressure on yourself and just roll with it. And in fact, I'd love to hear from you. If you have a fear that you know you're currently facing. Whether that fear is Swimming, jumping out of plans, asking that person out on a date or ending a relationship that you've been in for quite some time. I would love to hear from you. So be sure to drop me a DM on Instagram. So, I'm James Laughlin official over there. Or you know, drop me a line via my email and you can get in touch by my website. So, jjlaughlin.com, but love to hear from your wishing you guys nothing but the best. And don't forget to get out there and live life on purpose.  


Thank you so much for listening in today and investing in your own personal growth. Please hit that subscribe button. I would love, love, love If you'd leave me a rating and review as it really helps me to impact more people. I've got some amazing guests lined up in the coming weeks and folks, it's that time. Get out there and live life on purpose.