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Fear is Your Friend: Sounds Absurd But Its True

Fear: Friend or Foe

Fear is not often pleasant. It makes us feel awful. It can make us do some silly things.

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It can make us:
  • Run without looking
  • Stand still when we should run
  • Do or say things that are embarrassing (I saw a someone wet themselves once when she thought she was in a bank hold up.)
  • Make silly mistakes
  • Say things that we wouldn't normally say

Our Friend Fear

Most people would not consider fear to be their friend. But fear can be our friend. You might consider that a strange thing to say But I have taught this in my self-defence classes for years and to understand it is very powerful. But just consider some of the positive things fear can make us do.

Fear can:
  • Stop us from putting our hand into the fire
  • Stop us from crossing the road when cars are coming
  • Stop us from saying things that would get us into trouble
    Even though we might feel like saying them to some people very much

Basically, the same fear that may cause you to do and say silly or dangerous things can also stop you from doing and saying those same things.

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The Problem

The problem is of course, how do you stop the negative fear and encourage the positive.

Well, I will confess that it is not easy but it can be practised.

Basically, all you have to do is bring your mind into focusing on the task rather than on the fear or the thing that is causing the fear. This is often achieved in the theatre by the actors just saying the first thing that comes to mind when they have actually forgotten their lines. Just doing something gives them the distraction they needed and usually brakes the tension enough for them to remember where they were up to. Of course, sometimes the result of being impromptu has inappropriate hilarious consequences.

In the theatre, there is often a person who prompts from behind the curtains if things go really bad but in life, we often have no such support; not to mention that the consequences can be considerably more severe. Then there is the fact that speaking could be the very thing you don't want to do. So there has to be and is a better way.


Not just any kind of breathing. You have to breathe in and out through your mouth with your mouth perched like you are going to whistle...

Except don't actually whistle!

I've found that you can also practice by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth as long as your mouth is perched appropriately as you blow out.

The reason why it works is there is a nerve that runs down the back of your throat that is stimulated when you breathe like this. When it is stimulated, chemicals are released that help to calm you down. Some time ago I was pleased to see a demonstration of where this nerve is in the body on a Dr Oz show.

The calming effect of these chemicals is not so dramatic as to counteract the other chemical reaction that occurs when you are struck with fear. This is a good thing because if you have the presence of mind to do deep breathing when you are struck with fear you are then left being affected in a very useful way.

Combined with the calming reaction your fear now works like this:
  • It can make our heart go faster so that we can do things quicker.
  • It can make us think quicker.
  • It can make us a little stronger.
  • It can make us go a little longer
  • It can make us feel less pain

And that last point is probably the most important because if we feel less pain we are able to endure more. It's the same as being in a Judo contest. You don't feel your muscles under strain until well after the match.

The Downside

The downside, of course, is that you will experience that pain after the event and you will be much more tied when the fear goes away. Sometimes even leading to shock; so don't be a martyr, get help.

If we understand that fear can be our friend when we feel fear we can use it, instead of it making things worse for ourselves.

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