Fear feels real. It does.
Fear has an important job to do. It protects you from danger. When you’re in a dangerous situation, fear kicks in and your fight or flight response is triggered.
Fear becomes an issue when we attach it to situations where we aren’t in any real danger. If you allow that fear to hold you back from going to certain places, taking part in activities, or prevent you from being social, you limit yourself, and you limit the level of enjoyment you’re getting from your life.
Having been anxious to a degree, for most of my life, and having multiple phobias, I have first hand experience on how fears that are out of control can take over your life. All fear is learnt. We learn it through observation of other peoples reactions to things, or from the things they say. We may learn fear by being in an unpleasant situation, and then associating those feelings with that which we fear, and being worried about it happening again. No matter how your fear comes about, there will, at some point, have been a triggering event, observation or statement.
When we fear something, we begin to avoid it. Avoidance brings temporary relief, but is by no means, a permanent solution. Avoiding the thing you fear is stressful. Having to overthink and question things all the time in order to practice successful avoidance is difficult and time consuming, wasting valuable time that could be better spent enjoying life.
Facing your fears really is the key to overcoming them. I was first told this as a young child, and immediately it made me more terrified and unsure – facing my fears seemed like the worst idea imaginable – like hello? I’m trying to stay as far away as possible from things that scare me. Over time, and as I grew older I realised this advice had been one of the most accurate and helpful pieces of advice I had ever been given.
Sometimes, facing your fears might not eradicate them completely, but it will make them more manageable. It gives you more strength, self-belief and a sense of pride in your abilities.
Some of the most beautiful things in life are waiting just on the other side of that fear. If you can push through those few minutes of intense, dread and panic, you’ll find that once your fear reaches its peak, down is the only way for it to go. When your heart rate and breathing begin to return to normal, you start to realise that you’ve achieved something you probably never thought you could. Your new found confidence gets you thinking about all the future holds for you, now that you hold the key to overcoming your own personal hurdles.
I’m a prime example with my fear of flying, which was so crippling it affected almost two decades of my life. I’ve only been back three days, and I’m already planning my next holiday!
Facing your fears is hard work, but the rewards are so worth it, and we all deserve a life free of fear.