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 a species, we’ve never lived longer. Death has never been so far from our reality yet so close to our thoughts. It’s an interesting paradigm. When death was more of a constant, more of an immediate possibility, it wasn’t feared in the same way that it is today.
This fear of death and anything related to it like pain or injury prevents many of us from doing what our souls would deem exciting. It prevents us from living. It’s in our desire to avoid death, this eternal dirt nap, that we wade into a life that mimics this same state.
We stay stagnant, slip into a life of familiarity where we know how our day will begin and end and this gives us comfort. This safety puts us at ease and we begin to see ease as life, when it can’t be, it must be the opposite.
If our fear of death is conquered, as will our fear of pain and injury and loss and risk be defeated as well. While we need action to move away from this suffocating reality, our view of death must first change if life is to eventually take its place. And have no misconceptions about it, if our lives exist and are surrounded only by things that make us at ease, things that are familiar, we are not living. We are not doing what our souls are calling us to do and we’re in no way living up to our potential.
What we are doing is living a cowardly, selfish existence, a slap in the face of any man that has died in battle for freedom or honor. By not taking this gift and truly making the most of it we’re wasting their sacrifice, demeaning its significance. We’re no different than the rich kid who takes his father’s hard-earned money and squanders it on meaningless toys and trinkets.
Life is a constant chase; never will it end, this pursuit of excellence, an attempt to reach our potential, to give more of ourselves, to be who we have it in our capacity to become. It’s this pursuit that flies in the face of ease and familiarity and to truly live as we’ve laid out here, we must do it in the face of our greatest fear, death.
How to Conquer Your Fear of Death
We fear pain as much as we fear death. We fear sharks and spiders and crocodiles and snakes. We fear their venom or their bite. We fear the sword or the gun and the man wielding either. These are very natural fears to have but the actions – or lack thereof – they result in do more destruction than being devoured by a Great White, especially when you consider the likelihood of that violent end.
To rid ourselves of this unhealthy fear of death, and the corresponding damage that it does, we need to change our view of what death is and what it really means. It’s with a warrior’s view of death that we’re then able to see this end to life and the things we fear will bring it to fruition with logic.
To conquer your fear of death, however, doesn’t mean to remove it, but gain power over it. We should always in some way fear death just as we should fear living a mediocre life. We can’t let this fear cripple us, it should liberate us, free us to live with the greatness we have it within us to live.
1. See It As A Glorious End.
We can aim to see our fears for what they are, illogical, unlikely, and crippling, but unless we glorify death and see it as not only as life’s only constant, but as a gift, we’re not going to live the life and face the fears that keep us confined to a life surrounded by the familiar, devoid of action and especially of greatness.
Religion should have a positive effect on one’s view of death. That is, most religions don’t see death as the end, but as a new beginning, a state in the presence of the Divine. Whether that divinity resides in heaven or valhalla, a true belief in the divine should remove this fear of death all-together. Few, then, have a true, strong faith. As most of us, even if we’re Christians or Muslims, Jews or Buddhists, still fear death like we fear impotence.
Having a firm belief that this life isn’t the end should make you live a life where you’re drawn to your fears, where you push your capabilities, reach far beyond your grasp. If this isn’t the end you have no excuse to hold onto it, safeguard it, aiming to extend it rather than living it.
If you truly believe in a God, you have no excuse not to live by Lincoln’s profound words:
Its not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
The Vikings had a wonderful outlook on death and something that’s a product of their warrior culture. Death was something that smiled upon them. A death on the battlefield was a blessing, a glorious death was something they chased. The Christians and Muslims and Jews are similar, to die in the name of your Lord, your God, is an honor. To be given the opportunity to die in such a glorious fashion is a blessing, not something to run from or flee from.
If you do have a faith in a higher power, whatever form or shape this faith takes, a fear of death becomes entirely illogical and almost blasphemous. If you have faith, death isn’t feared but welcomed. This is a great gift, this faith of yours. Use it to push life’s boundaries, to embark on adventures. Treat life like a wet rag and squeeze every ounce of water from it. To live a glorious life is to honor your God and to honor those who’ve died before you in His name and in the name of whatever values you hold close to heart. If you see both life and death as gifts you can’t waste either of them.
If you’re not religious and you see death as your definite and final resting place, this fear of death still has no reason to exist, instead it should propel you to make the most of this singular existence, not to safeguard it or extend it. If, when you die, you have no recollection of your life and you simply stop being, no soul passing on to the next phase, no soul at all, what true consequence can be given to your life?
You’re simply an organism, a collection of cells, of atoms, of neurons firing. What you do here and now is all you have and all you will ever have, leaving you two choices: you either go balls out, live a grand life, face death, maybe cheat it a couple times, or you spend this one chance at existence doing nothing of consequence.
You can live, or you can await death. This is a similar question posed to the religious, few of us on either side of the fence choose to live, we’d rather avoid death at all costs.
Conquering your fear of death begins with strengthening your beliefs, no matter what they may be, but it doesn’t end here. Death needs to be as much a part of your life and this safety and familiarity you crave.
2. Talk About It. Live Around it. See It As A Gift.
Life and death are so closely connected yet we perceive them as enemies. Without death our lives would have no meaning, no purpose, no value.
Warrior cultures were surrounded by death, it was almost a daily occurrence, and they lived as a result.
Therein lies the second step to conquering your fear of death: being around it, talking about it, making it a part of your life. We allow our fear of pain and death and injury rule over our lives because we don’t talk about death as freely as we once did, we don’t see it as much as we once did. It’s become something so foreign, so far removed from the daily happenings of the battlefields that most men once roamed.
Instead of dying in battle, we’re now dying because we’re sitting on our asses too much. Think of this! We are actually dying because we’re becoming too lazy and too fat to keep our hearts pumping, our lungs breathing.
This fear of action has taken a form of gluttony and laziness so greatly that it is now killing us!
If you’re going to die, and we all are, die on your feet like a damn man, not on your blubbery back having lived a life devoid of action, of meaning, of anything you wanted to accomplish while your lungs could still take in air.
Talk about death. Put yourself in harms way every now and then. Do something that excites you, that scares you, something physical. Visit people are are dying, listen to their words, their regrets.
I wish I’d done more, is a constant. So do more.
Don’t allow un illogical response to a logical fear prevent you from living.
3. Let Action Slay Your Fears.
Emotions aren’t real, they’re our perceptions of events, things, and the emotions of others. They aren’t tangible, nor are they always logical. Your fear is predicated on something that hasn’t yet happened. You’re in the water in the middle of the ocean and you begin to think about the possibilities of a Jaws-like creature devouring you from beneath. If that animal were to exist and arise from the depths your fear would no longer exist as your desire to survive would take place.
Action, even in the midst of our greatest fears, kills fear. So why not let your fear alone and let your circumstances take place and evolve and grow?
There is no fear when you’re fighting off a wild beast, nor is there any fear when you’re fighting for your life. There is no fear when you’re working and creating, hustling, growing, and evolving.
The busy fear little, and if they do it’s only when they sit back and lament on what could have been or what could be. If you’re in the present there is not opportunity to let fear rear it’s ugly head and take control of your life. If you’re taking action it’s the action that takes the place of the inaction that fear usually leads to, so take a step.
All you have to do is get moving, get outside, of your ass and into the world. It can start with a routine, getting up early every morning and running. If your routine has more action than ease, you’re not going to have time to worry about your impending doom or the danger you just survived.
4. Become an Inferno.
In death we don’t just fear about ourselves, but about those closest to us. Just like action is the only way to break through a fear, it’s the only way to overcome a worry about another person in your life.
You will be missed. You have effected more people than you realize, but everyone in your life will, at some point, be okay even if you die before they do. If they aren’t, as heartless and as cold as it sounds, that’s on them. The only cure for this worry is to do as much in your lifetime as you can and leave this planet with as little regret as possible, though I’m sure we all hold on to something as we kick the bucket.
a. Be a man of your word.
Never say you’re going to do something and then don’t follow through. Follow through in EVERYTHING you say. Everything. Every minor commitment and major promise, be a man of your word.
b. Set goals greater than your grasp.
Familiarity is what many of us cling to, but it’s also what keeps us small. Daring mightily not only leads us to becoming better, it excites us, and excitement is the root of life. When you’re excited you do more, you have more energy, and in turn you dare even more mightily.
Don’t ever set goals that don’t push you to extend yourself. Don’t ever set goals that you can accomplish with little risk. They serve you no good and they’ll leave you with a warranted fear of dying with regret as your only companion.
c. If you have an itch, scratch it.
If there’s something in your life that is gnawing at your soul, begging you to act, act. You may fail miserably and you may lose, but the journey, the fear faced, the adventure embarked upon will be worth far more than the end that wasn’t accomplished.
d. Discover your true voice.
We lie to ourselves a lot. We rationalize inaction, we convince ourselves of desiring things we don’t want nor really need. It takes time, but you have to have a connection to your true voice, your true intentions. You must find clarity if you’re going to accomplish what you want and become who you want in the limited time you have here.
Your life is a candle, make it blaze like a roaring inferno, and unquenchable flame coming to an ultimate climax, not flickering and finally fading.
This inferno requires action on the right things, and it’s up to you to determine what they are.
5. Run Toward Your Fear.
The fear of death, no matter your views on the afterlife, shouldn’t prevent you from living the life in which you’re currently immersed. It makes no sense, it has no purpose to live in fear or to live not because of your fear. The only true way to conquer fear is to act, and act as often as possible in as many arena’s as you’re able.
Your fear of death shouldn’t keep you small but push you to live on a larger, grander scale. If you truly fear death you can’t take life for granted. If you truly fear death you can’t waste a minute, even a second wallowing in obscurity and mediocrity.
The Vikings and the Christians and many other religions saw death as a chance at something greater. The Romans, with Elysium, saw the warrior’s life extended in paradise. Your views on death, though, may not have to change for your actions to improve. Your view on death, after-all, can be wrought with the fear of the unknown leading you to push your boundaries in the here and now.
Few, though, seem to take this viewpoint, letting their fear have a crippling effect on the lives they aim and claim to live.
It starts with small actions, facing your fears head on, that will lead to the bigger things in life. Write a list of those things in life that you fear. Is it quitting your job or talking to a random hottie? Is it living on your own or getting punched in the face?
Quit your job and make your own way in the world. Walk up to a babe and simply say Hi, you have a lovely face. Find your own place, roommate-less, and live on your own. Walk into a boxing gym, join up, and see what it’s like to get punched in the face, it’s not all that bad but that fear of pain will enable you to take great strides in your fear of death.
Death is the only constant in life, it’s the only guarantee. You’re not guaranteed a fair wage or clean air, nor a job you enjoy or food that tastes good. You are, however, guaranteed to die. In fact, that very moment you popped out of yo’ mamma you started dying. Doesn’t that give you the kick in the ass to start living?