Simple Questions Lead from Fear to Freedom

Fear feels like a natural response to facts brandished about without any ability to respond. If you ask a simple – What if ... question though,  fear moves into freedom that innovative change-agents enjoy!

A mental barrier to freedom, fear of failure’s understandable when you think about it. Salacious front-liners  about why you should fear the current economy  threaten to rip off your future career hopes.  No wonder a brain’s ethical values become crippled by fearful responses. 

A simple question such as What if I did something different today to impact where I can move tomorrow - can chase fear away.  Questions set the stage for brain based tactics that reboot brainpower and add innovation.

Fear comes with peril that  shuts  down learning like a tsunami takes out entire towns. Harvard Director of Risk Communication, David Ropeik, showed how brains are hard-wired to fear first, and reflect second. Have you experienced a question that offered new directions?

One simple question can move you away from anger over problems into a new tone that leads toward possibilities.  Fortunately the brain comes with capabilities such as tone tactics for tough times,  that help to create freedom from fearful events. You can learn to look fear in the eye, and when you do so, you often face it’s toothless bite. Your amygdala offers you tools to react to fear with freedom.

The key is to act, rather than settle for fear …

1. Name what upsets you. Fearful or worrisome thought provokers often slink into  dark mental spaces, which makes them monstrous. Name the scare monger and it drags it into light and diminishes its power. What if you were to name the problem and suggest one keen alternative?

2. Choose freedom with deliberate intention to make it a larger reality than the fear that overshadows it. What if you tell a person you trust about the freedom you’ve chosen and how you plan to use it to lead change?

3. Embrace changes in your day, and go with the flow at times to find new freedoms that come with growth, curiosity, and acceptance. What if you tackle one stubborn challenge with the curiosity of a child today?

4. Enroll in a workshop, read a book, or attend a seminar on the topic of your fear. If death scares you, take a class that unpacks its process. Fear loneliness? What if you read a new book, or attend a seminar on healthier relationships?

5. Attempt to do the thing that causes persistent fear. What if you start slowly, laugh more and expect to gradually gain mental freedom that creates courage to do more of the same? Check out this hilarious video about facing snake bites in a strange land.

6. Risk new experiences that attract your efforts and talents to freer experiences. Ski dive, enjoy a dinner alone, or offer to speak in front of an audience for the first time. What if you take one small risk today to begin to build mental tenacity and overcome a fear?

7. Focus on learning a new skill, on the beauty of your life, on laughter with family, on lunches with friends, or choices for your career. What if you focus is more on freedoms you enjoy, so that fear tends to fads in response?

8. Draw on faith. What if you spend time with a higher power if you believe in Divine help, or spend time with people who are sensitive to spiritual  wealth and strength of soul?

9. Show kindness when another person faces fear or anxiety, and you’ll begin to build new neuron pathways to personal freedom and away from fear. What if you imagine the image of your brain rewiring itself according to freedoms that come based on what you  do or create?

10. Visualize you helping another person to overcome one fear you face, and then jot down an action plan you’d suggest to step in the direction of freedom. What if you do one step of that plan daily for a week. Record your results, and celebrate any signs of courage gained along the way?

Not bad choices, if you consider that questions can prevent fear and diminish its peril.  Face fear head on,   and you’ll already have created a delightful new pathway toward freedom. What’s your plan of action, the next time fear hits, and you feel like running to hide at first?

Worthwhile reading on the topic of mastering fear – is also Dr. David Dobbs’ Mastery of Fear findings.

See further posts on Fear:

Question to Refuel Finances Past Media Fears

Expect to Bypass Bullies and Cynics at Work

10 Tragic Traits in Mind of Bullies and Cynics

Fear Epidemic Runs Economy

Run From Financial Experts

Brainpowered Tools to Disagree

Brains Offer Olive Branch to Enemies

Choose Brain Parts to Sink or Swim

Hidden Traps Undo Brainpower

Courage to Climb on Sinking Ground

Radical Reconfiguration for Money and Mind

Higher Education Reinvention

Holiday Blues for Business Boom


  1. Eva Ulian says:

    Last time I felt fear I put up iron bars on my windows and doors! Cheers Ellen.

    Eva Ulians last blog post..106. Three Writers I Know Who Click

  2. eweber says:

    Better to stick ‘em onto doors and windows and free the brain from fear, than to stick ‘em onto the brain and lock the good stuff out. Eva you are a breath of fresh air!

  3. Thanks for a wonderful post, Ellen!

    These 10 strategies for overcoming the debilitating power of fear can help free nearly anyone from its grip! They make a great checklist that we can use whenever the fear monster rears its ugly head. These practical strategies also help remind us that we can emerge on the other side of fear, not merely unscathed, but actually better off than we were before the fearful experience. They also teach us that fear needn’t paralyze us but should, instead, mobilize us for action.

    Thanks again for providing the tools that can make us overcomers!


  4. eweber says:

    Thanks Jeanne, what an interesting concept about walking into a finer places after fear. That’s so true as we act on ways to the opposite side of any brain barriers. I hadn’t thought of that — but it reminds me that life gets even better as we get older:-) Cool!

  5. Fred Campos says:

    Dr. Ellen,

    good stuff. It is one thing to talk about fear, it is another to give us 10 steps for overcoming it! Thank you. I would make #1 and #10 the most important. I believe what you think about and the way you visualize it to yourself is far more powerful than fear itself. You are what you think about.

    Expanding my brain with your knowledge,


  6. eweber says:

    Fred, you put it better than I did and thanks. Fear can be a silent killer for those who do not identify its perils and take the step you laid out here:-) A free Tuesday – because you dropped by! May your day be the best yet!

  7. Wally Bock says:

    Many years ago, I saw a study of “heroes” that was conducted by (I think) the Navy. After interviewing several men (they were all men) who had behaved heroically in dangerous situations, they concluded that a key behavior of who responded well was that they concentrated on what needed to be done, rather than what could happen. After decades of working with men and women in high risk occupations, that distinction seems valid to me. The ones who perform best ask “What should I do now?” rather than “Why is this happening?” or “What will happen to me?”

    Wally Bocks last blog post..Mass layoffs or not

  8. eweber says:

    What a wonderful picture of gazing ahead and only glancing back, Wally. Sure makes sense from the brain as I know it:-) Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Agreed! As we get older, we often become freer to learn the lessons life has to teach us — and that’s so rewarding! And when we know we’ve faced the fears of life with courage and determination — and survived, or even thrived — it helps us face the future with hope!

  10. Embrace changes in your day, and go with the flow at times to find new freedoms that come with growth, curiosity, and acceptance.

    I wonder if embracing these changes or going with the flow can only create a greater fear cycle.

    What effects are people who resist the flow and choose to mark there own path. When a person develops there own path (if they are knowledgable somewhat) the feeling of freedom and accomplishment can be amazing.

    I agree that fear can cripple – this instinctual fear of fear keeps us alive. It also can result in billionaires and Einstein (or Ellen Webers)

  11. eweber says:

    Wow – You build a good case for develoing a stronger intrapersonal intelligence, which helps to direct that change and creative flow, Mike! It’s what I addressed in and I agree with your concerns!

    Yikes, fear cannot lead to brilliance:-) – but mental adrenalines can:-)

    What you build so well here relates to overriding the brain’s default for ruts. See

    You are one thinker! Thanks for helping us to think along new lines too!

  12. Andrew says:

    Dr. Weber,

    Thank you kindly for this very informative post.

    Personally, fear has been one of my biggest barriers to the achievement of my goals and dreams so far in my life.

    Too many times, I have let fear prevent me from stepping out.

    I intend to put some (or all) of your professional recommendations into action. In your sixth point, you mentioned skiing – I am planning a skiing trip in two weeks time for only the second time in my life. The mere thought of such an activity scares the living daylights out of me – hopefully, I’ll survive!

    Andrews last blog post..My best blog post of 2008

  13. eweber says:

    Andrew you build a great case for creating confidence – and we all need to build this kind of inner courage a day at a time and in places we lack it personally. Great idea to ski – yet I have one brain based suggestion! Build it a step at a time — so your kind can create spaces for the new fuels – and you will not act beyond the skills you are building. In the vernacular — have a wonderfully wild adventure — while staying safe and growing dendrite brain cells for an even wilder one on the hills to follow! Thanks for the inspiration for all of us to take a new and delightful risk in the area of our fears! Enjoy the slopes!

  14. Manchild says:

    Hello Dr. Weber,

    Outstanding! Thank you for sharing these insightful, timely words during such an unpredictable season as this. Change is coming and will challenge us all to do something we’ve never done in order to receive something we’ve never had.

    I’ve discovered that most people don’t fear Change itself as much as they fear what follows Change — the unknown. Oh what an exciting year 2009 will be for all who choose to “face their fears and embrace Change.”


  15. eweber says:

    Thanks for stopping by Manchild. You build a great case for embracing and guiding the change that’s coming. I’m especially intriqued by your notion of that fear of the unknown. Would you agree that to get involved in the change, and to ensure it offers benefits to all – would also reduce fear of the outcomes? Thoughts?

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  29. lituc says:

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  30. […] key is in action, says Dr. Ellen Weber, CEO of the MITA International Brain Based Center (and my Twitter […]

  31. […] key is in action, says Dr. Ellen Weber, CEO of the MITA International Brain Based Center (and my Twitter […]

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