Overcome the Spirit of Fear With This Advice

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Get Out of Your Head" by Jennie Allen. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to know how to overcome the spirit of fear? What advice can help you do this?

In her book Get Out of Your Head, Jennie Allen looks at common mental battles people face. One of these battles is to overcome the spirit of fear, which can be achieved by learning to deal with anxiety and surrendering your fears to God.

Overcome the spirit of fear with Allen’s advice below.

Overcome the Spirit of Fear

It’s essential to overcome the spirit of fear, as living in fear will lead you to a perpetual state of anxiety, robbing you of peace and poisoning your view of God’s providence and goodness.

In this mental battle, your enemy is fear, which leads you to believe that God isn’t actually in control of the world and your life. Fear’s lie is that you can’t trust God to take care of your future. This lie is fueled by the question “What if?” What if this person hurts me? What if my children die? The stress brought on by this fear is both psychologically and physically debilitating. 

Overcome the spirit of fear by surrendering. This involves an attitude of total trust in God’s goodness, power, and provision, which will help you overcome the spirit of fear.

Fear’s lie is that you can’t trust God to take care of your future. This lie is fueled by the question “What if?” There are infinite variations on it. For instance:

  • What if this person hurts me like the last person I trusted?
  • What if my spouse betrays me?
  • What if my children die horribly?

The effects of believing this lie aren’t just psychological. We actually suffer a negative, stress-filled physiological response to these mental-emotional “what if” fears, such as the panic attack that the author once experienced when she was safely at home with her family. To defeat it, she paid attention to her body (see the strategy section below) and let its distress—her chest felt so tight she couldn’t breathe—lead her to the buried “what if” from the enemy that was driving it: What if I fail in my ministry? What if I’m not enough?  This is why it’s so essential to overcome the spirit of fear.

How to Overcome the Spirit of Fear

The truth you need to overcome the spirit of fear is that God controls every day of your life. Jesus tells us that “the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows” (Luke 12:7).

God always gives you what you need, when you need it. You can see this in Jesus’s parable of the flowers: “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:27-28).

The huge majority of what we worry about—90 percent or more—isn’t even real. Most of our fears are simply reflex actions by our minds, which exaggerate and misperceive things to weave a fog of baseless anxiety.

Corrie ten Boom’s classic book The Hiding Place tells of how the author and her family hid Jews from the Nazis until they themselves were sent to a concentration camp. At one point in the book, ten Boom recalls how when she was a girl and traveling to Amsterdam with her father, he always waited until right before they boarded the train to hand her ticket to her. She said he once told her that this was like God, who always supplies our needs at the right moment. He told her that even though some of the family would inevitably end up dying, God would provide the strength she would need at the very moment when she needed it. (Shortform note: To learn more about how ten Boom’s unshakeable Christian faith compelled her to rescue her Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust, read our summary of The Hiding Place.)

As the case of ten Boom highlights, we should bear in mind that God’s control doesn’t mean nothing bad will ever happen. Sometimes your fears may come true—illness, betrayal, financial crisis, and so on. But this doesn’t change God or the fact that he’s your unfailing hope. 

The case of the author’s friend Jackie, who tried unsuccessfully for years to get pregnant, also illustrates this point. Jackie was profoundly encouraged in this trial when the author and other Christian friends began praying, supporting, and believing for her—not believing specifically that God would give her a baby, but simply believing God on Jackie’s behalf regardless of what might happen.

Choose to Surrender

The way you overcome the spirit of fear and its lie that you can’t trust God is by surrendering your fears to God. The core tool for defeating “What ifs?” is simply the answer “Because God.” God trumps every fearful speculative “what if.” You literally don’t have to worry. God provides for us (Matthew 6:25-34), loves us (Romans 5:5), and chooses us (Ephesians 3:16).

Here are some specific strategies for how to surrender your fears to God and overcome the spirit of fear:

Follow Paul’s detailed advice in Philippians 4:6-7. Refuse to be anxious. Instead, choose to be grateful. Pray to God throughout the day for what you need. Choose to focus your thoughts on what’s true, noble, pure, and lovely.

When you feel insecure and afraid, keep asking yourself, “What’s really real?” Keep returning to the fact that it’s God, which means any apparent threat is ultimately unreal. Dwell on the fact that when you let yourself “spin out” with fear, you’re unconsciously vying for God’s role. Remember: You aren’t omniscient or omnipotent. Refuse to fall into the trap of stressing over what to actually do, how to solve a situation. You aren’t in control. God is. And this is wonderful! Your job is simply to use his power to tear down mental strongholds in the form of lies about yourself and him.Pay attention to your body, just like the author did to defuse her panic attack. Notice your body’s current state, especially any symptoms of anxiety, such as tension, a tight chest, a headache, or a racing pulse. Carefully trace these in your subjective experience to see if toxic thoughts might be causing them. Use any of the strategies and tools described above to reprogram these thoughts.

Overcome the Spirit of Fear With This Advice

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Jennie Allen's "Get Out of Your Head" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Get Out of Your Head summary:

  • Satan’s master plan for poisoning your mind with toxic thoughts
  • How to replace ungodly lies with scriptural truths
  • How to “put on the mind of Christ” and fulfill God’s plan for you

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

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