Bear Grylls on how to face your fears in everyday life : Life Kit Survivalist and adventurer Bear Grylls shares his advice on facing fear, preparing for the worst and the power of courage to get you through any situation.

Bear Grylls on how to S-T-O-P fighting fear in everyday life

Bear Grylls on how to S-T-O-P fighting fear in everyday life

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Adventurer Bear Grylls is the host of National Geographic's Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge. National Geographic/Ben Simms hide caption

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National Geographic/Ben Simms

Adventurer Bear Grylls is the host of National Geographic's Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge.

National Geographic/Ben Simms

It's easy to think that a man who's scaled Mount Everest, weathered giant rapids in Zambia and survived by eating stingrays in Indonesia is fearless. But adventurer and survivalist Bear Grylls, says nothing could be further from the truth.

"Fear is a huge part of my life, it's part of my job," he says. "Fear isn't an enemy. It's something that nature gives you to allow you to stay sharp and perform well and to have all your senses firing."

His current namesake TV show Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge is one of many in his decades-long career that follows him across the world on dangerous expeditions, in which he drops into remote locations with little to no supplies and finds ways to survive.

A lot of people live avoiding fear, says Grylls, and that's completely understandable. But the issue is, "When you're thrown into a scary situation, that fear muscle isn't strong, so you get kind of an overload of adrenaline," he says. "And an overload of adrenaline is always going to create a kind of a fog of war."

Instead, try to befriend your fear and use it to fuel you. Grylls shares his own spin on the acronym S-T-O-P, created by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan, to help you remember how to get there.

S - Stop and step back

We all have those everyday moments of panic – deadlines, difficult conversations, getting out of our social comfort zones, job interviews. Don't give in to the anxiety of the moment and just act reflexively.

T - Take a break

It's hard to think clearly when you're in fight-or-flight mode. Take a moment to gain some distance from the situation and get your thinking brain back online. Deep breaths and a quick mindfulness practice are a good place to start.

O - Observe

In high-stress situations, Grylls says it's natural to fixate. "You tend to just get super dialed into that one thing," he says, "but actually, just look at your surroundings. You're going to see escape routes. You're going to see alternatives and options." Who's in your corner? What resources do you have? Make sure you're on alert and taking stock of the full picture.

P - Plan

You're cool, calm and you've collected your resources – it's time to move ahead. Create a strategic plan of action – or two! – and keep moving forward.

The essential elements to surviving in any scenario are not knives or gadgets or dehydrated food packets, says Grylls, but the right perspectives.

Tools break, technology fails, plans fall through and it always seems to rain when you least want it to. Grylls says a key quality to survival – and to life – is getting comfortable with uncertainty and learning to adapt.

"If I had to choose three things [to bring on any expedition], I would make them a resourceful spirit, a determined heart, and a courageous attitude – that you're going to walk towards the difficult stuff and do whatever it takes to get out of that," says Grylls.


The audio portion of this episode was produced by 2021-2022 Kroc Fellow Michelle Aslam. We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at LifeKit@npr.org.

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Correction Aug. 9, 2022

The original version of this story wrongly attributed the authorship of the S-T-O-P acronym to Bear Grylls; it was created by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan.