Fear can be our enemy or our friend—depending on how we deal with it.
I have always been scared of something. When I was a kid, I used to wake up from nightmares crying in my bed, scared that someone was coming to get me.
As I got older, it became more of a social angst. I was afraid of being outcast by my peers. Later on, I became afraid that life had no meaning and that death was nothing but a stark oblivion waiting for me at the end of the line.
Once I got hit with chronic illness, which has been the pervading theme of my life for the last five years, I grew afraid that I would suffer like this forever.
I now believe that all fear can be boiled down to a fundamental fear of meaningless suffering, and this has certainly been presented to me by my condition.
The role fear plays in human life has become so obvious to me. We are always afraid of something in one way or another. What matters is how we confront what scares us—how we use our fear as a vehicle to empower ourselves as human beings.
We don’t develop ourselves by making the world safer, rather we do so by making ourselves stronger. We only become stronger by facing and overcoming our fears.
A certain amount of fear is healthy, but only if we are acutely aware of it and take steps to prevent it from slowing us down. If we fail to do this, fear acts as a virus, poisoning everything it touches in our lives.
I have devised a personal practice to keep fear in check. I try to do something I am afraid of every day.
I’m not talking about going skydiving or getting in a fist fight. I’m talking about identifying my deepest fears and then going out into the world to actualize them.
For example, I know for a fact that I am afraid of being looked down upon—being deemed as “less than” or “not enough,” and part of how I deal with that is through putting myself in a position where I could be judged harshly. I write and put out content virtually every day and engage with people when they have disagreements and even harsh criticisms.
Another example is how I’m afraid of being perceived as strange, weird, or aloof. So when I’m out in public, I force myself to be as comfortable as possible in spite of how I might be perceived. If someone notes a behavior of mine as peculiar, I just laugh and make a joke of it rather than taking personal offense or getting triggered.
This takes practice.
If we avoid what we are afraid of, it will boil over inside of us. It will grow into something dark and destructive within us. What we do not face and overcome will inevitably tear us down.
We cannot escape ourselves no matter what, so let’s save ourselves some time and not even bother trying.
Let’s do something we are afraid of every day, even if it occasionally defeats us. There is only one thing that is impossible—defeating someone who doesn’t give up. Even when we we feel that fear has gotten the better of us, keep trying. Get up the next day and go for it again. Do not be disturbed by the projections of the mind.
Persistence is key.
We don’t need to be free of fear, we just have to be its master.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Mika Matin/Unsplash
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Content Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Sara Karpanan