Have you ever felt as if you were grappling alone in the dark, not knowing what disasters were waiting for you? Well, you are not alone. Fear is a part of almost all of us, it is a natural part of life. It helps us survive by heightening awareness of potential threats and dangers.
For a greater part of my life, I have been a victim of fear. I spend my life living in fear about what could happen in my life. I have since realized that at some point in our lives, we have all been faced with fear. Even though on different levels, but we have all been faced with fear. The hand palpitations you get before an interview, that overarching anxiety when you are about to give a speech to a huge audience, or how you dread going for a GP’s check-up because you dread hearing the words, ‘I am sorry, the disease has no cure.’ We are human beings in a world of constant change, and this is scary. We are afraid that we won’t be OK in the chaos of change, that we will fail, that we will be judged, that life won’t turn out OK.
We are all afraid of one thing or another
Some people fear being alone
They will socialize endlessly, including on social networks and email to avoid being alone. They will end up with someone who isn’t really good for them, just to have someone to cling to, someone to rely on. But who wants to be in a relationship with a needy, desperate person? Much more attractive is confidence. And self-sufficiency. And strength. So learn to be OK with being alone. Learn to provide for all of your emotional needs. Learn that you are OK, just as you are, without anyone else to “complete you”.
Some people fear responsibilities
They would rather be 35 and be at home with their parents than move out and start their own families. I have met several people like that. If you speak to them they will be telling you about their big dreams that they are about to realize and 5 years down the line it’s still the same talk. If it scares you to be responsible, start by taking care of the small bills in your life. Teach yourself life management skills one at a time. Become self-sufficient. It’s better to learn to stand on your own two feet than to have to rely on someone else. If you can be self-sufficient, then relying on someone else is an act of strength, not of weakness.
Some people fear relationships
They are afraid of letting people close to them. Why? Because they fear being dependent or they fear that past hurts and disappointments may recur.
When fear controls us and holds us back it then becomes unhealthy. It stops us from building healthy and productive habits and causes us to procrastinate. So how we can better manage that fear in order for it not to act as a blockage on our tracks? When we face fear we either choose to move forward or turn backward or be stagnant in the same place forever. When your fear leads to feelings of paralyzation or stagnation in your life, fear becomes hostage to your life and it’s probably time for you to do something about it.
It is human nature to avoid emotions that scare us. Who wants to walk directly into what promises to be a painful experience? But while you allow your fear to take hostage of you, you are also allowing it to hinder your growth. Even if you try to ignore it or run away from it, your fear will strike when you least expect it and worse still, when you are less prepared to handle it. The good news is that, once you face your fear, it begins losing the ability to rule you and dictate your decisions. As Victor Hugo said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it”
Facing Your Fear
I also have my own fears that I am dealing with. I am afraid of changing my profession because that may mean letting go of my only source of income. But I’m more afraid of ultimately never finding out what changing professions would bring for me.
So how can you work through your fear?
1. Accept the fear
The first step to dealing with your fear is accepting or acknowledging that you are afraid. Have an internal conversation with yourself about what your fears are stopping you from doing, and consider if it’s a problem that you need to confront. Are your fears causing you to lead a less fulfilling life than the one you hoped for? Consider the pros and cons of not facing your fear. Write those down. Then, identify the pros and cons of tackling your fears head-on. Write down what you might achieve or how your life might be different.
Acknowledging that fear is a normal human emotion can help you find the strength to face yours. Make a list of your fears. In order to fight your fears, you’ve got to know what scares you. Sit down and draw up a list of things you’re afraid of. What are they? Where do they come from? What are their origins? When do they seem to crop up? When do they seem not so bad? How do they make you feel?
There’s a big part of all of us that doesn’t ever want to face our fears and this is what gives them their power. Today, I’m challenging you to change this. I’m challenging you to take a small action each day to face your fears. To become fearless, one small step at a time.
2. Face the fear mindfully
The truth is, we rarely allow ourselves to feel our fears. We run from them, pretend they aren’t there, distract ourselves, and lash out at others, trying to find control. But we don’t even admit we have these fears, most of the time, let alone actually allow ourselves to feel them.
These fears cause us to procrastinate, distract ourselves, comfort ourselves with food and social media and shopping and games, avoid even thinking about them and beat ourselves up for not doing anything. If we could deal with these fears, we’d be rock stars.
3. Reflect on your fear
What is it that you are afraid of? Reflection will help you get everything into perspective. Evaluate the risk level. Are you really at risk? Will this kill you? If the worst was to happen, what would it be? This will help you to fix your assumptions which in most cases, won’t be backed by any evidence.
Sometimes, fear comes from simply not knowing very much about the thing you’re afraid of. For example, you might be afraid of starting your own business simply because you have heard about most business failures. Keep in mind that just because something feels scary, doesn’t mean it’s not doable. Educate yourself about the facts and the risks you actually face by doing the things that scare you.
Differentiate between rational and irrational fears. In some situations, it’s perfectly natural to feel some level of fear. A healthy fear response is an evolutionary advantage that’s helped humans survive in a hostile world for thousands of years. Understanding when fear makes sense and when it doesn’t can help you conquer your responses.
4. Reflect on your best and worst-case scenarios
What could possibly go wrong and what could possibly go right?
- If the worst were to happen, what would that be?
- Could that really happen?
When you take the time to actually define your fears, you learn to separate fact from fiction. Some things you’re afraid of will be valid, but many will be mental worst-case scenarios that have simply spiraled further in your mind than they ever will or would in reality.
5. Devise a plan of action
If things go either way, what will be your plan of action? Most times we can’t face our fears because we have no action plan but once we get that, it is easier to face our fears. If the worst did happen, how would you recover? If the worst were to happen, what would you need to do next?
Being brave is not about relaxing and waiting for the worst to happen. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going. When things get tough, I cope through prayer and music. You can drink a glass of champagne, even though there is no special moment. It will make you feel good! It may not fix the fear you are facing right away but it allows your mind to calm down and be in a better position to find solutions.
6. Take Action: Approach your fears
It’s easy to ignore our fears and hope that they’ll just go away. Unfortunately, they rarely do. If you don’t face your fears, they’ll end up controlling you. How do you face them? The most common way to face your fears is through exposure, where you gradually face the thing or situation you’re afraid of. With the right method of thinking, you’ll wonder why you weren’t doing it sooner!
As I have said, we attract what we are most afraid of. Exposure therapy is the only way that you can get rid of your fears, you need to take action and face your fears in order for you to get rid of them. Little by little as you face your fears, their power begins to subside. Better approach your fears before they make the first move because trust me, they will. In that way, you are better prepared. Every time you don’t allow fear to keep you from doing something that scares you, You are making yourself stronger and less likely to let the next fear attack stop you. If you avoid things that cause anxiety, you teach your brain to be more afraid.
If you ask public speakers or entrepreneurs they will confirm this, you never stop being afraid. Just that they stop letting the fear stop them. Feel the fear but take action anyway. Sometimes all you need is 5 seconds of insane courage. Most of our fears today are often based more on psychology than actual physical threats. As Mark Twain said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”
I remember this line from black pather, “Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?” “That is the only time a man can be brave,” his father told him.
You don’t develop bravery and courage in the good times, you develop them when you actually confront fears. Your courage grows with each fear you face. “Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving; we get stronger and more resilient.” – Steve Maraboli
Resilience comes from facing your fears. You become better than your surroundings and transform yourself above the fear and into bigger and bigger success. Resilience starts with you, and it begins in your mind. Face your fears and learn to rise to face whatever is in front of you.
7. Talk to someone
If you fail to cope on your own, then speak to a mental health professional. Sometimes it’s not as easy as just following steps 1-6. If you are experiencing overwhelming fear or anxiety, I encourage you to speak to a therapist. Sometimes you cannot do it alone. A little bit of fear is normal, it protects you from harm. Your fear might help you to recognize when you’re about to do something dangerous and it could help you to make a safer choice.
But, if you find your fear preventing you from living your daily life then, find help.
If you need to speak to a professional counsellor, don’t forget to get in touch with Psyche and Beyond.
Whatsapp: +2761 853 0124
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