Video by Joyce Meyer Ministries

The night was dark and stormy as I walked home alone from my friend’s house. I could barely see the sidewalk in front of me through the pouring rain.

A crash of thunder made me jump, my heart racing. I picked up my pace but then heard footsteps close behind me.

My imagination took off, picturing a sinister man following me, waiting for a chance to attack. I was petrified. The footsteps kept pace with me no matter how fast I walked.

Finally, I broke into a run, adrenaline coursing through my veins. I made it to my house and turned around, expecting to see someone rushing up behind me. But there was no one there.

It had just been my imagination letting fear get the best of me. What a scare that was!

Fear. We all deal with it, though we may try to avoid talking about it. Like when I was walking home alone that night, fear has a way of growing into terrifying thoughts that freak us out.

For some, fear turns into a constant state of anxiety, rising to the level of phobias that severely limit life.

I want to write honestly here about fear—why we have it, how it limits us, and most importantly, how you can face it head-on.

Why Do We Fear?

Why Do We Fear

On a basic level, fear alerts us to possible harm or warns us away from risky situations. This fear can be helpful. But often our fears far exceed legitimate dangers.

Another major reason we fear is the unknown. We tend to fear what we can’t predict or control.

The uncertainty creates anxiety, so we avoid those situations. But avoiding feeds fear and shrinks our lives.

Fear can also become deeply rooted in our minds and bodies as a trauma response. Painful events, especially in childhood, shape a tendency to expect more pain, generating fear.

Chronic fear creates a stress response known as hypervigilance, where we constantly scan for threats.

Ultimately though, fear stems from a lack of perfect love. The Bible says:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear”

1 John 4:18 (NKJV)

Only God’s perfect love can banish fear completely. But we can make progress by better understanding how fear works.

How Fear Works

How Fear Works

Fear activates your body’s natural survival responses. When you perceive a threat, your sympathetic nervous system springs into action, triggering the fight or flight response.

Your heart races, your muscles tense, and your breathing speeds up. Adrenaline and cortisol flood the body to prepare you to fight the threat or flee to safety.

Though vital for protecting you from harm, this process also causes physical discomfort and anxiety when activated too readily.

Our minds perceive potential threats everywhere, triggering stress responses frequently. We feel keyed up, on edge, and exhausted. Fear taxes our bodies and minds.

Fear also narrows your focus. When afraid, you fixate on what you fear while ignoring the bigger picture.

Like Peter walking on water but sinking when he looked at the wind and waves (Matthew 14:29-30), fear diverts your attention. Life’s joys and beauties fade from view.

29 Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

How Fear Limits Us

How Fear Limits Us

Fear will confine you in several ways:

  • Action: Fear often prevents you from taking positive action. You shy away from pursuing goals, taking risks, or stepping out in faith. Fear will paralyze you.
  • Growth: Facing fears helps you grow in courage. But avoiding fear stunts your growth. You miss gaining the skills and confidence to handle difficult situations.
  • Relationships: Fearing rejection, you avoid building close relationships. Or anxiety about others’ opinions stifles sharing honestly. Fear will isolate you.
  • Freedom: Constant fear imprisons your life. You plan activities around what makes you anxious. Phobias especially control where you go and what you do.

Fear-filled living is limited living. But how can you break free?

Facing Your Fears

Facing Your Fears

Conquering fear requires facing it. Avoidance only strengthens fear’s power over you. Fear calls for action. Here are 7 steps to start facing fear:

1. Identify Your Fears

Make a list of specific situations, events, activities, or objects that cause anxiety or avoidance. Name each fear simply and concretely.

For example, “Speaking in front of people.” This will help depersonalize the fear when you begin addressing it.

2. Rank Your Fears

Place your fears in a hierarchy from least to most difficult. Start by listing the ones that provoke only mild anxiety or avoidance.

Work up to the most troublesome, then your top few phobias or panic-inducing fears. This gives a game plan for gradual exposure.

3. Gather Coping Tools

Develop resources to help you relax and manage fear: calming activities, stress management skills, counseling, meditation, prayer, Scripture verses, inspirational quotes, and encouraging friends. Prepare your coping toolbox.

4. Start Small

Begin facing mild fears first through gradual, repeated exposure. Take baby steps into feared situations, a little further each time.

Progress patiently from the least anxiety-provoking to the most difficult. With small successes, you’ll gain confidence.

5. Enlist Support

Ask trusted friends and counselors to help. Have them provide encouragement during exposure practices and help guide the process.

Sharing the journey makes overcoming fears easier.

6. Anticipate Anxiety

Remember that feeling some fear and anxiety is normal when facing fearful situations. Expect it, allow it, and refocus on the exposure goal.

The anxiety wave will crest and pass. Staying in the feared situation until anxiety decreases helps retrain your mind.

7. Focus Forward

Rather than focusing inward on the fear, focus forward on the goal. Reflect on why you are taking these steps, like improving your life or overcoming limitations. Keep the big picture motivating you.

Facing fears requires courage, patience, hard work, and God’s help. But doing so breaks their power over you.

You’ll gain confidence each time you turn and confront what you fear. Your world expands as you boldly step past previous limits.

No matter what fears hold you back, you can start facing them today.

Tips for Facing and Overcoming Your Fears

Overcoming Your Fears

In addition to strategic exposure, addressing faulty thinking provides another route to freedom.

Your mindset matters. Irrational beliefs feed fear. Correcting distorted thoughts renews your mind and shrinks fear.

Here are some helpful strategies:

  • Examine assumptions: Ask what evidence supports fearful beliefs. Often the assumed risk or danger proves unrealistic when you really assess it.
  • Challenge catastrophic thinking: Instead of imagining the worst case, conceive the most likely positive outcome. How unlikely is the feared disaster actually happening?
  • Alter alarmist language: Change extreme terms like “terrified” or “danger” to accurate, mild ones like “concerned” or “dislike.”
  • Dispute mind-reading. Don’t assume others’ negative thoughts about you. Stick to factual evidence of their feelings.
  • Notice fear-magnifying. Don’t exaggerate the scary features while ignoring the positives. Get an accurate perspective.
  • Pray and meditate. Ask God for discernment and wisdom. Reflect on truths that counter the fearful thoughts. God’s truth dispels deception.

With prayer and practice, these strategies help renew your mind and change fear’s hold on us. God wants to free you from fear’s grip. He assures us constantly in Scripture, “Fear not!”

As you grow in trusting God’s power and love, you gain confidence to face any fear. Boldly declare, like the psalmist:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?”

Psalm 27:1 (NIV)

Key Takeaways: Facing and Overcoming Fear

  • Fear alerts you to danger but often exaggerates the real risks.
  • Fear limits you through avoidance and heightened anxiety.
  • Identify specific fears and rank them to create a gradual exposure plan.
  • Take small steps to face mild fears first and work up to bigger ones.
  • Anxiety is normal when facing fears. Allow it and stay focused on goals.
  • Renew your mind by correcting distorted fearful thoughts with God’s truth.
  • With God’s help, you can courageously turn and confront what you fear.


We all feel fear at times. But with God’s help, you don’t have to let fear rule your life and determine your limits.

As you prayerfully and intentionally face your fears, you’ll find increasing freedom from fear’s control over you.

With the courage that comes from God, you can boldly step past previous restraints into the life he intends for you.

What fear will you start facing today?

Frequently Asked Questions About Fear and Anxiety

Q. How can I tell if my fear is irrational?

A. Examine if your fear level matches the actual likelihood and severity of the perceived danger.

Ask others if they see the situation similarly. Irrational fears are extremely disproportionate.

Q. What if I have panic attacks when facing my fears?

A. Get medical advice to ensure panic attacks aren’t linked to other health issues. Using relaxation skills can help calm attacks.

Work very gradually toward fearful situations as you are able. Seek counseling support.

Q. What if I fail or panic when trying to face a fear?

A. Failing just means you tried something difficult. It’s not failure, but valuable learning about where you still need growth.

Drop any shame, adjust your approach, and keep working at your own pace. Progress happens over time.

Q. How do I motivate myself to keep facing fears?

A. Connect deeply with your core values and aspirations for life. Let them drive you forward, not the fear holding you back.

Pursue a purpose bigger than your fears. Envision the joy and freedom on the other side.

Q. How can I face my fears when I’m already stressed and overwhelmed?

A. Practice extra self-care and stress management. Tackle other priorities first to create more mental bandwidth.

Add coping tools to your toolbox. Move very slowly into fearful situations when energies are depleted. Seek support.

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