“ You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing, which you think you cannot do.”
Has fear stopped you from moving forward with your life?
Have you let a close relationship finish because you were too afraid to love? Are you stuck in your career because you are afraid that you would fail the exams necessary for promotion? Maybe you would like to leave that safe job and become your own boss but fear holds you back from making the move to freedom. Or are you so scared that just to step outside your front door is an overwhelming experience?
Fear is an inevitable part of being human. It is a natural survival reaction that comes into play when you are facing danger. It is a useful response when your life really is in danger and yet fear can be maladaptive in today’s world. Fear is something that can monopolise your sense of well being leaving you terrified, helpless and vulnerable. Fear can cause you be stuck in self-defeating behaviour such as hiding, avoiding, withdrawal and procrastination.
Everyone is different. Your fears and anxieties are unique to you. And you know what they are and the degree that they are stopping you from being the person you want to be. Fears and anxieties can wreck your life if you let them.
Fear is a natural reaction to moving nearer to the truth. Often what you most want to do is what you fear the most. If you explore your fears you might find that some of them will disappear in a puff of realisation and others which are more stubborn might need to be looked at, acknowledged and put away to be brought out again at a later date when you feel more confident about facing them. The trick is not to bolt when things get scary, stay with the fear, befriend the fear and it will not seem quite so scary ever again.
Many people try to overcome their fears and anxieties by avoiding situations that they know will trigger them. But that isn’t going to help you. You cannot keep hiding from your fears, you may try to repress them into a dark and lonely corner of your unconscious mind but they will find their way to conscious daylight when you least expect it and completely overwhelm you.
The fear we feel from real, in the moment, external dangers is quite bad enough but it is the internal fears, where there is an absence of a real life threatening experience that are often the hardest to deal with. They are often described as anxieties. Fear is a negative emotional state where there is a real and physical threat, an outside fear. Anxiety is also a negative emotional state where an external threat is not present but anticipated.
Fear states can be brought on by signs or signals that stand for harm. If you have been physically attacked and suffered major injuries at the hands of a male attacker then you may find that if you are walking down a quiet street and see a male stranger coming towards you, although he might mean you no harm, you immediately go into ‘fear mode’ of fight or flight. For you the reverberations of your original attack are very raw. And so, to you, all men are serious threats to your physical wellbeing.
I cannot give you a recipe to entirely eradicate fear from your life. You cannot be a part of the human race and not have a level of fear, but I can help you to gently reach through your fear, so you can try to understand it. This will help you to balance your life and manage your fears a little better than you do now.
You must decide how much fear you are prepared to accept into your life and then how you are going to manage it. I am a great believer in ‘baby steps.’ Rushing in and confronting all your fears in one foul swoop can leave you completely terrified, depleted and so overwhelmed that you will never want to try again.
You cannot expect to change from a fearful and anxious person to a confident out there type of person over night. How long has it taken you to become the person you are today? It may take a little while before you can manage your fears.
In order for you to live a normal life you must do normal things and face your fears. Are you afraid to drive on busy streets? Then in order to conquer your fear that is exactly what you need to do. If you are afraid to move out of your ‘comfort-zone’ that is exactly what you must do to reach into your fear and move beyond it. Always go where your fear is guiding you. If you are strong enough to face your fear it will not have the same hold over you as it once did.
Can you work through the journey of understanding, reaching through and managing your fears on your own?
If you have been stuck in fearful patterns of behavior for many years you may need some professional help.
Don’t let fear make your choices for you. Sitting at home and wishing you weren’t fearful doesn’t work. Get off the roundabout of fear by not running away. Stay with the fearful feelings, don’t fight them and try to accept them and live a normal life in spite of them.