“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
— C. JoyBell C.
When going into a new situation or experience wouldn’t it be a great gift if we had something that raised our attention level, sharpened our focus, made our minds a little more alert, and increased our sense of readiness. Well, we do have that, and it is called Fear.
If you think about it, the only difference between “fear” and “excitement” is what we choose to call it. The two are pretty much the same in terms of our physiological and emotional reaction. With fear, we put a negative spin on it: “Oh, no!” With excitement, we give it a positive meaning: ” Oh, boy!”
Our parents used fear to keep us safe when we were out of their sight. As children, we did not know the difference between playing in the street and playing on the playground. We did not know the difference between poison and milk. We did not know the difference between a total stranger and a perfect stranger.
Our parents taught us, with the most loving of intentions, to fear everything new. This fear probably kept us safe and out of harm’s way on any number of occasions.
The problem is, at the age of eighteen, when we did know the difference between the truly dangerous and the “just interesting” no one taught us to use fear for the remarkable gift that it is. It is as though nobody took the training wheels off our bike.
As adults, most of us do not need to fear poison to keep us from drinking it. We don’t drink it because, there’s no future in it. Only occasionally do we need the rush of fear necessary to quickly avoid a new situation (a stranger on a dark street). Most of the time, however, fear is a wonderful ally in our quest for growth, learning, and expansion.
To use fear as the friend that it is, we must retrain and reprogram ourselves. We must persistently tell ourselves that the fear is here with its gift of energy and heightened awareness so that we can do our best and learn the most in new situations.
To prove to ourselves that nothing physically bad will happen to us, it is necessary to move through the fear. Most people treat fear as a wall at the edge of their comfort zone. As they approach the wall, their fear increases, and they turn around and walk away. They do not do whatever it is that they fear. Therefore, the belief that fears is a limitation and not a path to growth is perpetuated.
If you want to learn about fear, whatever it is you fear doing that is the very thing you need to do. Fear is not a wall; it is just an emotion. We must move through the fear. It may become quite uncomfortable; then, suddenly the anxiety will become less.
Once you start doing the things you fear, the fear is used for its true purpose; extra vigor. When we use this energy to do what we want to do, the wall of fear disappears.
Also, remember that a guaranteed way to hold onto your fear is to stay away from the thing that you fear. To overcome fear you need to walk in the direction of that which you fear not away from it.
“Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.” — Dale Carnegie
Source material: Anxiety, Phobias and Panic, Peter McWilliams, Psychology Today