From an evolutionary standpoint fear obviously serves a very important purpose - to keep us alive. It's a natural response to physical danger- ie., if you were being chased through the woods by a rabid bear, that would be a pretty legitimate reason to be fearful. Your adrenaline would kick in and you would run for dear life! But now that humans have evolved and most of us aren't usually hunting and gathering in the woods, most of our fear is self-created and is divorced from any real or concrete danger. Even though it appears real, and often physically feels real, usually it's just us projecting past experiences into the future - in other words, it has nothing to do with what is actually happening right NOW. Your body is here and now, while you're mind is dwelling in the non-existent future. That gap creates anxiety. And when you let you start living in this mind-created, non-existent, anxiety ridden future, you start acting from that place too, and ultimately chaos starts to seep through your life.
Fear can be totally paralyzing- for me, it often manifests itself in the form of procrastination - my fear of failure can keep me stuck in "comfortable" and hold me back from living the life I know I'm capable of living.
Whenever I find myself in fear I remind myself of this acronym - False Evidence Appearing Real. It's a good reminder to remember that fear has nothing to do with what's happening right here, right now. I truly believe the Universe never gives us more than we can handle.
I can attest to the fact that ignoring or avoiding your fears will come back later to bite you in the ass- look it in the face and confront what's keeping you stuck in the fear loop. Here are some tools I use when I find myself in fear-mode:
1. Write down the facts - not what you think will happen but what's actually real.
2. Think of a time you were totally freaking out about something - did you get through it? What actually happened? Usually what we think will happen is much different than reality.
3. Play the tape through - play out your fears - if they were to actually come to fruition, what's the absolute WORST that could happen?
4. Trust that no matter what, the Universe (or God, Allah, Mother Earth, whatever you choose to believe in) never gives us more than we can handle, but we can only handle what's actually happening right now. Know that whatever the outcome of any situation, you will be given everything you need to get through it.