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The Power of Fear

29 Sep 2023

Fear is an unseen enemy that can keep us stuck and dim our lights.

I see the look of fear most days in our HMP learners. Some are struck down by fear. But Fear also makes some super strong, especially when adrenaline kicks in.

It can totally floor us when we thought we had things under control.

As an Exam Officer I too often see the finger of fear cross our students when they need all the confidence they can get.

Fear can be paralysing. It can snatch our potential to utilise our own power. 

But there are things we can do and things we can learn to put fear in its place. Most of us though tell ourselves to push past it and ignore it.

We try and smother it in positive thinking and hope to crush it down. That is like sticking a plaster on a wound and hope by covering it up, it will go away!

But putting on a coat of self-confidence does not mean our fear has vanished.  We have just learnt some ways of pushing things down and turning away. We choose not to look deep inside our fear. Facing our worries can be a step too far. 

Even though I work with Exam Stress, I still get anxious when I step up and speak, take a session, or put myself out there.

I know the science, and the logic.  I understand the power of the subconscious and the plummet of low self-esteem.

Depending on who you talk to, fear either shows that you care about what you do, or that it has you by the ‘throat’.

I would say it is a mix of both (and yes, it is my voice and my tummy that shows my fear when I fail to handle my anxiety).

When you have a weak-spot, fear has a way of finding it and tripping you up.

But it is natural for many of us to fear success, fear failure, and fear all things in between.

When I gave a talk at the NAEO Summer Conference I suspect few knew I was anxious, because I have learned ways to manage it.

So how do you handle your fears in your job?

  • Do you push through and crack on, hoping that being busy will take your mind off the work mountain and help you tick things off?
  • Or do you look at what comes up, question it, re-affirm your ability to do what needs to be done, and confidently bat away the negative words of others?
  • Perhaps you fall back into a pattern of reaction when you get overwhelmed – eating, drinking, sleeping, withdrawing etc.

Most of us have such behaviours that help us hide from our feelings.

Fear generally arises from our feelings of not being ‘up to it’. And the solution is to work on our sense of self-worth.

But as our students know, it is not enough to just think we are ok – we have to do the work too. Exams need our mental preparation.

We need to prepare our minds for thinking well, learning how to learn and how to recall and share our subject knowledge.

Handling our fears in life is not much different.

We need to work on what we feel needs attention:

  • to regularly remind ourselves that we are managing OK
  • to find ways to still the sabotaging voices we all hear from time to time
  • and to hang out with those who re-affirm the good we bring to their lives

Handling our fears is an on-going process that needs us look within and be prepared to do the work.

Love and Light,

I’m launching my new course Developing the Exam Mindset for teachers, to help their students with exam anxiety this month. I’m looking for a few schools to join me in tweaking the final version.  Interested? You can get the latest details at

Download a worksheet on Fear for your students at

Many schools have anxious exam students, so I created a Framework that helps them become the Thought Leaders their students need, to manage their thinking and stay in control at exam time