On Overcoming Fear

What are you afraid of? For me, my biggest fears have been fear of rejection and fear of failure. My other, lesser fears include fear of tarantulas, fear of heights, fear of wasps and big spiders.  Yes, many fears can be crippling and can pull one down, but some of them can actually be beneficial. Fear can be good if it protects you from greater dangers, if it creates respect and reverence for someone or something that deserves or is entitled to it, and when it influences us to make wise decisions.  For instance, recently I wanted to pull a double-shift for one of my managers to help him get things done, but because of a big snowstorm, he advised me not to. Because I was afraid of what would happen with me being possibly drowsy (I would have been up for more than 24 hours that day if I did said shift, and working more than 12!) and bad weather conditions , I listened to his advice to cancel working the double shift and just work my normal shift that day.  His care and my willingness to listen that day could have possibly saved my life, because even when I was going home at the normal time (and the weather and roads weren’t as bad yet) the drive was still a bit treacherous. Imagine how it would have been in the midst of the storm and with me being drowsy! Also, the Bible says to fear God, and this is a good fear because it helps believers to respect Him and to worship Him better.

However, fear can also be bad. This kind of fear can cripple you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Furthermore, this fear can keep you from accomplishing your goals and purposes in life and, in some cases, can even kill you!  For instance, fear of failure has prevented me, in the past, from trying new things or doing things that I needed to do to be more successful.  When I didn’t think there was even a slight possibility of accomplishing something, I tend to either give up, or more likely, just get very frustrated, instead of finding a new way to accomplish said thing.  Certain fears, like a fear of rejection, can also be an indicator of your lack of trust both in your own God-given abilities and in everyone else.

Overcoming fear is about triumphing over “bad” fear in order to live a more successful and fulfilling life. Though I still struggle with certain fears, these are several ways that I have strived to overcome them:

The first step in overcoming fears that cripple and depress you is finding the root cause of your fear or fears. There are many root causes of fear. For instance, I often struggle with the fear of failure because I want things to be just right.  The root causes, or the things that cause me to fear failure, are:

  1. Feeling that I wouldn’t be of use to the world if I didn’t succeed in said thing. (a sense of inadequacy)
  2. Feeling that other people would think I am “stupid” or “worthless” for my perceived failure. (fear of rejection)
  3. Fear of the consequences of my failure.

Other common “root causes” of fear are our lack of trust for a person or institution, a feeling of discouragement (that we can never get it right anyway no matter how much we tried), or shame if we did feared thing. Once we find the root cause or causes of our fear or fears, we are ready to begin overcoming our fears.

The second step in overcoming fears is what I call, exposure.  I would not try to expose yourself to the fear all at once; it will be too overwhelming.  Instead, slowly expose yourself to the fear.  For instance, if you are afraid of spiders, I would start by looking at pictures online, in a magazine or book, of a spider.  Then, when you can look at said pictures without feeling anxious or icky about, then buy a plastic spider at a craft or party store, and touch it and feel it crawl against your skin.  When you can do that without feeling anxious and squeamish about it, then try to do the same with a small real- life spider. When that doesn’t bother you (i.e.. you don’t scream or get squeamish), you have conquered your fear! Congratulations! For another example, if you fear rejection by people when you share your struggles with others, first tell someone else about a minor struggle you faced this week. Then, when you can do that without worry or fear, tell someone about an on-going struggle you faced this month. If you can do that with no problems, then you are ready to share the struggle you had to face this year, or in your life. Also, ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen to me if I were confronted with my fear or if my fear came true? “ and “How can I deal with what would happen without giving into fear?”

For physical fears, such as fear of spiders, I would a.) expose myself to the fear little by little, and b) Find support in dealing with my fears. This support person or persons would make sure I can get through the fear well and would “talk me out” of the fear when I am afraid. For emotional fears, such as fear of rejection, I would remind myself of the people that love me, and believe that they actually love me.  I would remind myself that these fears are usually lies that cripple me into becoming the person I want to be. Finally, I would also seek out supportive people that will help me in coping with my fears by encouraging me and talking me out of giving in to my fears.

Finally, if you have overcome your fear or fears, I would try to help others overcome their fears. However, make sure that you yourself are still not struggling with said fears, otherwise you will pull both you and the other person down!  In order to be a good supportive friend in helping others overcome their fears, make sure you can in some way relate to their fear or fears. Also, never ever minimize or act condescendingly towards them for their fears. For instance, if your friend is afraid of wasps, do not tell them they are a “baby” for being afraid of them.  Also, don’t dangle a wasp in front of them to tease them. This is very condescending and bullying behavior. It will not only make them even more fearful, but also, they won’t trust you to help them overcome their fears anymore, and you will have lost the opportunity to make a real difference for them. The point is to always help them in a positive, supportive way.

These are the ways that I try to overcome my fears. Yes, I still struggle at times, but I have overcome and am overcoming many of my past fears.  Being triumphant over these fears has definitely helped me to be a more motivated and successful person.  What are your fears? How have you tried to overcome them? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

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8 thoughts on “On Overcoming Fear

  1. It sounds like you have done a great job at overcoming your fears, I do feel like helping other people often helps myself. I am good at advice but not so good at taking it myself. I also fear rejection, and I find it quite hard to open up to people because of this.

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  2. I am still struggling with something that I can actually do easily, but fear stops me. Working on it now, I hope to overcome come it soon.

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  3. fear can be such a powerful thing – i’m becoming less & less fear as I age & mature & I love the idea of paying it forward & helping others deal with their fear

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  4. I think a lot about fear. People can use it as a motivator, but it’s never worked for me. However, there is no better feeling than being afraid and doing something anyway-and succeeding!

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  5. I have a similar fear of failure and definitely can’t stand spiders for some reason. Fear can be a good and bad thing depending on how you channel it and if you’re willing to overcome it. Great post!!

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