How to Control Your Fears and Get Out of Your Own Way

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Existential Kink" by Carolyn Elliott. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are your fears getting in the way of you living up to your fullest potential? How can you take control of your fears?

According to Existential Kink by Carolyn Elliott, fear and desire cannot exist without each other. But, in order to accept and manifest desires, you must confront what you’re afraid of.

Keep reading to learn how to control your fears.

Identify Your Fears

Fear is often what stops us from receiving the “positive” patterns we think we want. In fact, Elliott explains, fear and desire always coexist: Everything we desire is something we fear to some degree, and everything we fear is something we desire in some way. For example, you may tell yourself you want to achieve better health, but deep down there’s something about improving your health that you fear, and this fear is why you keep manifesting the opposite. This process is about acknowledging that it’s not because of bad luck or the cruelty of the universe that you don’t have what you want: It’s because you’re afraid of it.

Here’s Elliott’s advice for how to control your fears. Identify something you think you consciously want but can’t seem to achieve, and then write at the top of a sheet of paper that you hate or refuse to have that thing. Below that, list 20 fears you associate with it. For example, if you want to get your graduate degree, you might write that you refuse to pursue a graduate degree, and list fears such as “I’m afraid I won’t get good grades,” “I’m afraid of the high costs, and I’m unwilling to feel the responsibility of making it worth the money,” or “I’m afraid of what I might discover about myself.” This puts you face-to-face with the internal sensations that are preventing you from achieving what you want.

After listing your fears, include a statement at the bottom asking the universe to remove your fears. Read the whole thing to another person, then tear it up and throw it away. This way you acknowledge the negative emotions associated with this thing you think you want, and then you release them into the universe. The more you do this, the less power your fears will have over you, and the more control you’ll have over your life and self.

The Link Between Fear and Desire

While we may think of fear and desire as opposites of each other, experts suggest that they’re closely linked. While Elliott suggests that fear is what stands in the way of achieving your desire, some experts argue that fear is not an obstacle but rather the natural result of unexpressed desire, meaning that as we disconnect from and forget our desires, they’re replaced by fears. For example, you may have once desired companionship, but if you detach from or give up on this desire, it may be replaced with a fear of loneliness.

They recommend using your fears to identify what you truly want: On a two-columned sheet of paper, try writing down a fear in the first column, then following that up with what would happen if that fear were fulfilled, and what would happen as a result of that, and so on until you get to the worst case scenario (“I’ll lose my job and all my friends,” for instance). 

Then in the second column, write down the desire that corresponds to each fear. This will help you see how your fears and desires are linked, and it can also make it easier to record your fears for the purpose of your existential kink practice. This exercise is the inverse of Elliott’s exercise to take stock of your fears, as you’re using your fears to identify your desires rather than the other way around. You may choose to tear up this paper after completing the exercise, just as you would with Elliott’s practice, as a symbolic way of destroying both your fears’ and your desires’ power over you. Alternatively, you could burn, cut, or recycle it.
How to Control Your Fears and Get Out of Your Own Way

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  • That the negative patterns in our lives are manifestations of what we desire
  • How to dissolve your negative desires so they lose hold over your life
  • How to practice existential kink meditation

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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