How to Defeat Fear.

Via on May 13, 2012

Image: Yoshitoshi

“Once there was a young warrior.

Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear.

She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive;

it was scary; it seemed unfriendly.

But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle.

The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other.

The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful.

They both had their weapons.

The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear,

prostrated three times, and asked,

‘May I have permission to go into battle with you?’

Fear said, ‘Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.’

Then the young warrior said, ‘How can I defeat you?’

Fear replied, ‘My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face.

Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say.

If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power.

You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me.

You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.’

In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear. ”

~ Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times.


Our fears have only the power we give them.

Easy enough to say when comfortable and relaxed and unafraid, right? When we head in to battle with our fear, the only thing we need to remember is that we don’t have to do what the fear tells us.

Courage is not the absence of fear. We don’t defeat fear because it turns around and runs away. We defeat fear when we look at it, listen to its noise, stand nose to nose with it and refuse to do what it says.

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About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. She doesn't know how to behave with all the apples and ibexes. She doesn't suffer from her eight million freckles, she loves them! Like a rolling stone, Kate gathers no moss. Kate loves kale, being barefoot, Dr. Seuss, singing too loudly, gallivanting, palindromes, blackberries and has far too many books for her own good. When she's not writing, you can find her practicing yoga, running in the woods, playing with her kids, devouring a book, planting dandelions, changing the world and doing her dishes. Kate does not play the accordion. She is a massage therapist, writer and a compassionate friend to all. This year Kate aspires to finally give up on learning to knit and will instead spend that time putting a little bit more of her heart on the page. Connect with Kate on Facebook and Twitter


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7 Responses to “How to Defeat Fear.”

  1. lame. this says nothing. repeating platitudes hardly warrants what you might think is called 'writing.' this is no closer to teaching someone 'how to defeat fear' than Joan Rivers is to looking natural

    • Well, I think many people might argue with you that Pema Chodron is an important dharma teacher—hardly a platitude. I didn't feel there was much I needed to add to it, but felt moved to share it as I find her to be a helpful teacher. All the best.

  2. Charles says:

    I'm a singer/songwriting and I just finished writing a song about a fear of mine. Fear (and not just that particular fear) is something I've been struggling with for a while now and I found this article at exactly the right time. Amusingly enough, I'm reading Carl Jung's book on synchronicity, so that just makes this even stranger. Anyway, not accepting or facing these fears resulted in my return to a habit I thought I was over.

    I consulted the I Ching on this habit a few days ago and my present came up as Kou / Coming to Meet. The most practical advice hidden in the wisdom of the book said, "The inferior thing seems so harmless and inviting that a man delights in it; it looks so small and weak that he imagines he may dally with it and come to no harm. The inferior man rises only because the superior man does not regard him as dangerous and so lends him power."

    The first bit seems to relate much to my habit while the latter definitely relates to the idea of fear being something that should be acknowledged and respected, though if you don't listen to fear you won't lend fear that power that is yours and yours alone. I'm only touching the surface with this and being slightly redundant, but it felt appropriate.

    That's my two and a half cents. Thanks so much for posting this!

  3. MaryGold McNutt says:

    Thank you for a great reminder. There is nothing at all that can have power over us unless we give that power away. Whwe we loose our center, simply take it back again, quicker and quicker till no-one even notices.

  4. [...] you keep only the fears that serve to make you fearless. May you lay down anything that would limit you. And may the beautiful temple of your body always be [...]

  5. Apollinaris says:

    hey buddy, this can be a quite exciting post

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