People are afraid of countless things but the last thing we should ever fear is ourselves. Removing fears based around personal insecurities is an empowering, and simple, process.
As morbid as it may be, I always love asking others “what is your greatest fear?” I chuckle a little when others respond with public speaking due to my profession but across my conversations I find it interesting hearing what others consider to be worthy of provoking their greatest levels of dread.
Throughout these conversations, I have listened as countless individuals recount the physical creatures that causes them to stop in their tracks with spiders, snakes, and sharks the main offenders. (Sad day for animals starting with the letter S.) Many others are afraid of inevitable pieces of life that amount to a lack of control materializing through events such as death or the loss of loved ones. Other times I hear less popular ones peppered into the mix like pores or ice cubes. I am in no place to judge any fear as mine include children.
Hearing these fears is sometimes illuminating and other times sad but across all my conversations the fears that stand out most are related to self-perceptions. These fears driven by the self are the most alarming because they are the most difficult to combat and the most consuming of all. It is easy when a fear relates to your self for it to play a significant role in your life.
I know this because of one of my past personal fears. For the longest time, I was afraid of not feeling significant. Stemming from a variety of reasons, I wanted to feel important and that my life was meaningful. This fear shaped how I handled information, relationships, and even rejection. The issue with this fear is that it easily compounded. Much like other self-driven fears, it quickly built because these fears are self- reinforcing. Once one of these fears seizes you, once it has you in its grasp, it can eat you slowly.
My fear of insignificance, and how it manifested across my life, is the perfect example. I would feel insignificant because of something that happened at work and end up letting this transfer into my personal relationships. Once this fear had become a part of my relationships, I would let it influence my art. It was a reciprocating cycle that led nowhere positive. At no point did this fear benefit me but instead it just constantly built. Any time I let it this fear build I would hit a point of panic that emerged in negative physical symptoms and emotions. Overall, the fear grew in an unhealthy manner until I finally decided to overcome it. No one told me what a process this would be.
How do you defeat these self-conscious fears? What can one do that gets rid of a fear based on the self and reproducing through insecurities? These questions are profoundly intimate because these fears are personal and intangible. If you are afraid of spiders, you avoid interacting with these tiny creatures. Afraid of death, and you’re out of luck. But feeling afraid of never being enough, feeling insignificant, or some other internal fear is difficult to avoid. These fears linger in our psyche, compounding to a point where we have to acknowledge they are there and move forward or risk them damaging us.
The ability to move beyond this type of fears is one of the most profound skills we can develop throughout life. Recognizing the sway a fear holds over us is a profound feat. Conquering something so unsurmountable is a whole other issue.
Moving beyond our fears begins by first acknowledging they exist. Since these fears are so personal, we often ironically fear admitting them. Think, it is not silly for someone to announce they are afraid of spiders. We should not assign a stigma that it is bad to be afraid of things like insignificance or being alone. By admitting boldly to our fears, by claiming them, we take control. By taking control of these fears we allow ourselves the capabilities of moving past them.
Once we have acknowledged our fear, we must identify our triggers. Again, think of the spider. When you are afraid of spiders, you know this and avoid arachnids. Spiders are the trigger and arachnophobes don’t stand for them. The same is true of personal fears. Once you have identified your self fear, seek to build upon this. Learn what it is that will trigger you. What are the different actions that cause this reaction? Identifying and learning the actions that inspire our fear allows us to react differently.
Reactions are the last piece of this fear pie. By acknowledging our fear we give ourself the power to address it. By recognizing our triggers we learn more about what is happening that prompts our feelings. Now we have to begin shaping our reactions. Instead of allowing ourselves to react to the natural urging of our fears, we must choose a different manner of action. Knowing what provokes our negative feelings empowers us the chance of seeking out alternative responses. By willingly determining the response to our fears, we can either pick a negative reaction or we can move forward in a different manner.
We acknowledge our fears, we recognize our triggers, and we control our reactions. Through this process we will find that what we fear can become less and less. Even the most debilitating of fears can be controlled, especially if we are willing to take the proper steps. In a world where it is advocated that we conquer our fears, we must remember this process need not be dramatic but is just a few pieces of actions that build on one another.
It is natural to feel fear and often innate to have some kind of fear related to the self. Everyone in life experiences fear; feeling fear is human, letting fear control you is debilitating. There are many things to fear but you should never fear yourself.