A couple of nights ago, I was awake at four in the morning.  My younger daughter wasn’t feeling well, so I had been up with her for an hour or so, giving her extra TLC.  When I climbed back into my bed, I was unable to fall asleep.  My mind was racing with thoughts and most of them were fear-filled ones.

I’ve always found that when I’m feeling anxious or fearful about something, those fears and anxieties rear their ugly little heads most when I’m trying to get some shut eye.  And with all the fears swimming around amidst our country’s current economic situation, it’s easy to end up swimming in that sea of fear too.  I also find that money fears can cripple anyone – regardless of how much money they have or don’t have in the bank.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past three years of being in business for myself, it’s that there are healthy doses of fear and there are harmful doses of fear.  A bit of fear to get a fire started under my butt, motivating me to get much needed tasks done or to start creating something that my business is needing – that kind of fear is a good fear.

The kind of fear that keeps me awake at night?  Not so much.  I’d rather not keep company with that type of fear.

I’ve found that the same thing is true for every one of my clients.  And almost every client, colleague, and self-employed friend I’ve spoken to in the past month has been dealing with this same challenge – how to get that ugly, unproductive fear off your back and out of your mind.

Earlier this year, my business coach mentioned a practice he’s used whenever he needs to release from the grip of an unhelpful fear.  I’ve worked with his practice and expanded it for myself.  Now I want to share it with you.

I call it a 3-point safety check.

Next time you’re feeling stuck in the clutches of unproductive fear, follow these steps:


Take a breath (even if it’s not a deep breath).

Take another breath.

Then ask yourself the following questions.  Pause in between each answer.

Do I have food in my fridge?
Do I have shelter at this very moment?
Is there anyone threatening my physical safety in this very moment?

Take a deep breath.

Check in with yourself to see if you still feel stuck in your fear.

Once I’ve followed this process, I can usually listen to the helpful message that’s trying to come through to me, but was veiled by the overwhelming sense of panic that the fear was bringing up in me.

I hope you find this 3-point safety check helpful.  If you have any techniques you use to break free from fear, I’d love to hear them!


By Jessica Reagan Salzman