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Befriending Fear: 36 Inspirational Quotes and A Few Secret Tips

Fear gets the best of me from time to time.  How about you?

If you sometimes – or often – feel overtaken by fear, I want you to know:   you are not alone.

It’s OK to feel fear…at least in my world.  You don’t have to feel ashamed for one minute.  I am right here with you.

I will never tell you, “Just get over it.”  I know it’s not easy to conqueror fear.  It hasn’t been easy for me.  But it’s easier.

You see fear many be encoded in your DNA.  It may have infiltrated your bones.  Chances are it’s running the show in your brain.

FEAR!  It feels so real.  So all-consuming.  So body embracing.

But when I look deeply I see, fear is really just an artifact of habits.  The expression of past experiences which are dead and gone.

Like turbulent clouds passing by in the sky, fear never lasts forever.  So how can it truly exist?

I know it’s not the real me.  And, I suspect it’s not the real you.  It’s not the true essence of mind, which, the great masters tell us, is open, spacious, and free.

Befriending Fear

But I  know you can’t just “get over it”.  It’s usually not a matter of will.

Instead, my approach is to gradually and gingerly befriend this demon called fear.

I’ve found that coming to know fear as just another passing emotion – we have thousands each day – is a powerful way to begin to loosen its grip.

So when fear comes for a visit, here’s something you can try.  Sit quietly for awhile.  Take a breath.  Say hello.  Notice where it arises in your body.  Where the tension and constriction resides.

Send some love and attention there.

Here’s a secret:  where the mind goes, the energy flows.  Just noticing where fear resides in your body already begins to melt it away.

Look into your mind.  What’s happening there?  Observe the added thoughts that make fear grip more strongly, grow, and overcome you.

Can you allow one of these fear-building thoughts to float by like a dark cloud moving through the sky.  Can you let the next one pass through too?

Do this – as best you can – whenever fear appears.  Give a little space, shine a little light, inquire about this visitor in your mind.

Yes, sometimes fear will still overcome you.  Rome wasn’t build in a day.  But slowly, slowly –  if you apply these steps – you will gradually disarm your old-time fear.

36 Quotes to Help You Overcome Fear

These are some of my personal favorites when it comes to inspirational quotes about fear.  I hope they will inspire and help you too.

They remind me that I am not alone.  They give me a fresh perspective and a gentle nudge.  Some are the basis for profound reflection, which itself can dissolve fear.

  • “The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.” – Aung San Suu Kyi
  • “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin
  • “Courage is like a muscle.  We strengthen it with use.”  – Ruth Gordon
  • “Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.” – Karl Menninger
  • “What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.” – J. Krishnamurti
  • “To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” – Soren Kierkegaard
  • “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.”  – Marie Curie
  • “Our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasures.”  – Rainer Maria Rilke
  • “Emptiness cannot harm emptiness.” – The Tibetan Book of the Dead
  • “Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.” – Rumi
  • “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.” – Gandhi
  • “When I dare to be powerful — to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde
  • “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” – Rosa Parks
  • “There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.” – Andre Gide
  • “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “So over you is the greatest enemy a man can have and that is fear. I know some of you are afraid to listen to the truth – you have been raised on fear and lies. But I am going to preach to you the truth until you are free of that fear…” – Malcolm X
  • “You have to let it go, Neo. Fear, doubt, disbelief. Free your mind.” – Morpheus, The Matrix
  • To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.  – Bertrand Russell
  • “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” – Georgia O’Keeffe
  • “He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “Fear makes us feel our humanity.”  – Benjamin Disraeli
  • “We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.” – Helen Keller
  • “Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.”  – Author Unknown
  • “The wise man in the storm prays God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “I have accepted fear as a part of life – specifically the fear of change…. I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says:  turn back.”  – Erica Jong
  • “The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.”  – Lady Bird Johnson
  • “The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there’s no risk of accident for someone who’s dead.”  – Albert Einstein
  • “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”  – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” – Babe Ruth
  • “The only think we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • “The basis of optimism is sheer terror.” – Oscar Wilde
  • “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”  – Frank Herbert, Dune – Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear
  • “Worry is a form of fear, and all forms of fear produce fatigue. A man who has learned not to feel fear will find the fatigue of daily life enormously diminished.”  – Bertrand Russell
  • “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie
  • “As fear is close companion to falsehood, so truth follows fearlessness.” – Jawaharlar Nehru
  • “Am I afraid of high notes? Of course I am afraid. What sane man is not?” – Luciano Pavarotti

The path of fear is not an easy one.  Yet, it can be a powerful opportunity for transformation.  May you journey well.  And remember, I am walking with you.

Do you have  an experience of working with fear that you would like to share?  Was there a quote here that especially resonated for you?

These articles might also help you work with fear:

Image: public domain

Thank you for reading and sharing!  If you enjoyed this article please subscribe for free updates by email.  With love, Sandra


 

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33 Comments

  1. Fear and worry…two emotions that can paralyze us quicker than any disease, just by the power we give them.

    Befriending fear is a fascinating idea to destroy the power it holds over us. I’m rarely fearful, but will try to remember the technique the next time fear pays me a visit.

    Thanks for the collection of quotes. I was unfamiliar with many of them, but liked them all.

  2. Bob,

    I’m inclined to say how wonderful it is that you are rarely fearful. But that implies that fear is bad. And I know that we each tangle with a predominant emotion that has the most to teach us. So all is well and good!

    I appreciate your view of fear and worry! I like the idea of dis-empowering them! Thanks for this image.

  3. Thank you for providing my posts for the next several days! 🙂 My favorite is the first one:

    “The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.” – Aung San Suu Kyi

    It is so true. When I quit running from fear and making life decisions based on it, my whole life changed for the better. I have never felt more free!

    • It’s my pleasure to be of service in this way, Debbie! I’m happy you have found a way to meet fear, transform it, and find such freedom. So lovely!

  4. This reminded me of: Feel the fear and do it anyway- Susan Jeffers

    Fear (ego) stops us big time.

    What a wonderful list to have as a reference and love “I have accepted fear as a part of life – specifically the fear of change…. I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back.” – Erica Jong. Change means we must face our fear to become empowered.

    Love
    Suzie

  5. Hi Sandra,
    Very empowering article, thank you!
    For many years, fear was the factor that paralyzed me, allowed me to remain “stuck” in far less than. When I decided that fear was my friend, could indeed motivate and encourage me while I was creating this moment, my life began to change and evolve into the magical one that it is now. As you share, fear is not something to “get over” it is something to acknowledge and bring along.
    Many quotes that you share speak to me..the one I use in creating my life is from Eleanor Roosevelt: “you must do the thing you think you cannot”..some days this is a challenge as I process something “big”, some days it is a joy as I gently move into something new and different.
    I also recognize that what I focus on grows, so when I focus on all that is life enriching and faith filled, surround my self in it, immerse my self in it..there is no room for fear to exist in the moment.

    • Joy,

      You really summarize this all well with this statement, “As you share, fear is not something to “get over” it is something to acknowledge and bring along.”

      This is really important for me too, and an advice I need to take to heart right now:

      “I also recognize that what I focus on grows, so when I focus on all that is life enriching and faith filled, surround my self in it, immerse my self in it..there is no room for fear to exist in the moment.”

      Thank you! You are such an inspiration.

  6. Wow. Really good quotes you have here!

  7. Hi Sandra
    Another great post from you which I will come back to later and read in more detail.
    Thank you (as always) for your inspiration.

  8. Hi Sandra,

    “I’ve found that coming to know fear as just another passing emotion – we have thousands each day – is a powerful way to begin to loosen its grip.”

    You really said this so well, and it captures what fear is to me: that daily experience of all the little things that come up. I’m learning to recognize more clearly when I start to react from a place of fear, and to let it pass through rather than take hold. I love the Georgia O’Keeffe quote, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

    I am on the edge of a major life change, and fear is naturally involved. After 1 1/2 years of unemployment we’re giving in and selling our house, and we are unsure of where we’ll relocate to. I find it’s all my little fears that are at the heart of this big one.

    Thank you for this helpful post. I’ve been less active online these days… but I do keep reading my favorite blogs and continue to love all your inspiration :~)

    hugs,

    Sue

    • Dear Sue,

      So nice to “see” you! I am wishing you the best with your major life change. I really hope the best evolves for you. I know what you mean about all the little fears. Yikes, they do add up!

      Thank you for touching base. I appreciate you.

  9. Sandra,
    There is an assurance in reading this – an assurance that it’s okay to feel the fears I feel. Thank you, for gently creating this space, and in it – the open and loving community that develops.

    Thank you, always, for being a light of hope and guidance…

  10. Beautiful roundup and guided tour.

    The Dale Carnegie one is a classic.

    I don’t think I heard this one before … it’s quite the twist and like it:
    “The basis of optimism is sheer terror.” – Oscar Wilde

  11. Thanks so much Sandra! This is very timely, as I’m doing some writing myself on fear. These are wonderful quotes. They’re all great, providing different facets of wisdom.

    If I may, here’s a couple more:

    “Action conquers fear”, Chinese proverb

    and one of my fave acronyms . . . FEAR is . . .
    F–False
    E–Evidence
    A–Appearing
    R–Real

    Thanks again for this great compilation Sandra.

  12. Sandra,
    This is so helpful. I’m bookmarking this page as a reference!
    Susan

  13. I like the idea of befriending fear as well. Like Milarepa–right? Invite the demons to tea! Some great quotes here. Sometimes all we need is a little saying we can quickly call upon when the fear starts to get really scary. Nice collection here.

  14. Vishnu

    Thanks for the fear quotes Sandra – interesting how 99% of our fears never come true?

    Love does trump fear so focusing on love does help. And being aware of fear also helps.

    And practice overcoming fear (like in public speaking) is a real practical thing to do to overcome fear.

    • Hi Vishnu,

      That’s an interesting perspective. But then again there’s the 1% of time when they do! I agree with you about love fully. It’s the best antidote to fear in my mind. Great idea about practicing too. Thanks for that.

  15. This is certainly an exhaustive list, one of my favourite being, “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” – Marie Curie. It really helps you reframe how you see fear. Good post.

  16. Thanks for so many wonderful quotes Sandra. My favorite is ““There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.” – Andre Gide

    I will have to come back and re-read this again and again.

    • You’re welcome, Lori! That’s an interesting one. It’s true that even when our deepest fears come true, we are usually still standing.

  17. that’s a great post Sandra
    i always believed that courage is the most important trait a person should have
    thanks for this motivating post 🙂

  18. Hi Sandra,
    Thanks for you link love.

    ■“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” – Rosa Parks

    I used to think I wish I had as much courage as Rosa. When I reflect on my past I know that I do. My brave acts just didn’t get as much attention;) All fear we embrace, and then take action anyway, affects all of us. xo

    • It’s inspiring to see you acknowledge your courage. I think simply being alive takes a degree of courage! We all need to give ourselves a pat on the back.

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