Fear is a normal and often important emotion. Those who claim that nothing scares them and they have no fear are either lying or psychotic. Yet, fear can be paralyzing and in many cases can prevent you from having fun or beneficial experiences.
We have all had that feeling before – the one where you freeze up and are too afraid to continue. It could be jumping off the high dive, speaking to a large group of people, or any number of other things. Often fear is a practical emotion that protects us from danger – you really should avoid petting a porcupine for instance or trying to balance on the railing of a 3 story balcony. But the fears that keep us from certain experiences like public speaking, riding roller coasters, or even making new friends can hold us back in life for no good reason.
Why We Should Face Our Fears
Allowing fear to control you and dictate your actions takes away your personal power and limits your experiences. It can mean you miss out on things that can make you a stronger and happier person. Take the individual who is afraid to fly but wants to see the world. Without getting on an airplane there are very few options to achieve this goal and the ones that do exist are rather impractical. So finding a way to face the fear of flying and overcome it will mean a richer and happier life.
The act of overcoming a fear is also a factor in personal growth. It takes a lot of inner strength and mental stamina to rise above something that we find frightening enough to completely avoid. It’s not as easy as just “getting over it” as some might tell you. There is a good amount of thought control, coping strategies, self-talk, and even counseling that can go into it.
People who don’t share the same fears may not understand how difficult it is to get beyond certain things, but rest assured there is likely something in their life that has a similar effect on them. So when your friend who travels for business tells you flying is no big deal while you are trying hard to psych yourself up to just walk down the tarmac, know that there was probably a spider, snake, or something else, at some point that had them quaking and cornered.
How You Face Your Fear
Ultimately facing your fear and overcoming it is a personal process. No one can make you do it or do it for you. But there are some things that can help you get to that point.
• Know that it may not happen on the first attempt. No one who has ever been successful at something has done it without failure. It’s okay to try, fail and have to try again. Facing your fears is a process and it may take a while for you to fully achieve it. The bigger picture to focus on is to keep trying and make a bit more progress each time.
• No “what ifs.” One of the worst things about fear is the feeling of being held prisoner. If you never work to get beyond the things that scare you it’s quite possible you will go through life wondering “what if.” And these feelings can lead to many problems later in life, like depression, anger issues, or even a midlife crisis.
• Envision the other side and know you will get there. Millions of people use air travel, speak to crowds, go skydiving, and ride roller coasters. 99.99 % of them do just fine and go on with their lives afterward. You will too. Focus on the feeling of accomplishment and sense of pride you will have once you have achieved your goal. And recognize that the hardest part is doing something scary for the first time. Once you have tried it you may find that whatever it was feeding that fear wasn’t as scary as you thought, and the next time you do it things will be easier.
Whatever it is that you have been avoiding you should consider carefully — only you can decide to push yourself forward and overcome it. But as long as you continue to let the fear control you and prevent you from doing things of interest, you won’t really be fully in charge of your own life.