Does living in fear stop you from fully living?
By Shelley F. Knight
In society today we carry so many fears, whether they are physical, social, emotional, political, or global. We all experience fear, whether we are introvert or extrovert, young or old, strong or weak, rich or poor.
Whilst our basic level of fear is helpful in triggering our fight or flight responses in attempts to keep us safe and alive, the downside to fear is when it holds you back from doing something new or positive. Fear over an unknown outcome in the future, can actually cause more damage to our lives than feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Our descendents may have feared how to survive life in the wild, but they never feared over public speaking or getting that job promotion, showing as fears can change as much as life itself does.
There is a great chasm between our natural human instinct to sense danger, and our tendencies to defend our fear as a reason not to breakthrough into our next level. Let’s look at ways in which to overcome some of our fears.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR FEAR
Fear happens when we write a fictitious story, even though there is no real way of knowing the story and life chapter that lies before us. Whilst you may feel unable to trust the unpredictable life episodes, you must learn to trust yourself. No thoughts, ideas, planning, or cheerleading can help you conquer your fear, the only way to conquer your fear is to take action. Trust me, your future self will thank you.
We create so many fears of what might come to be rather than take action and seek the truth of the outcome and a new way forward. Every new fear that you face will have one of two outcomes; either it will work or it won’t. What is really the worst case scenario?
When I start defending my excuses in life, my life coach calls me out and asks “What one thing would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Find the truth of who you are, your character, integrity, talents, and intentions. When you start to trust yourself more, your confidence will increase, and the fear will decrease as you start to believe in yourself and your desired outcome. Start fulfilling your dreams rather than fearing them.
YOU ARE ALIVE
Unless you are just going to lie in bed each and every day, everything you do comes with a margin of risk, and often fear too. The fact you are experiencing the fear induced sensations, such as trying your hand at public speaking or applying for that job promotion, is a positive in itself. You are alive and functioning, a privilege denied to many. From my years in palliative care nursing, my beautiful patients would reflect back on their lives and wish they had not wasted so much time and energy on fearing for the future, as whatever is destined to happen, will inevitably happen. Live your life while you are alive; work towards facing every little fear that comes your way, as this is a privilege denied to many. Face your fears and truly feel alive.
FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY
Most people fear stepping into an unknown, but everything in life is unknown until it occurs. Nothing is known for certain but do not allow fear to grow, allow yourself to grow. Your fear will be uniquely different from everyone else’s. It could come like a paralysing bolt of lightning, or it could be a gentle rippling undercurrent that is present for days, weeks and even months at a time. It is said that the greatest risk in our lives is to do nothing, and lost everything that life is truly about – living to the fullest.
What is fear anyway?
Psychologist define fear as Fear is defined as a purely emotional response to a real or simply perceived threat. Fear can be related to future events, such as worsening or continuation of conditions that are perceived as unacceptable, or can be a sense of imminent danger.
The mostly commonly recognised fears include fear of ghosts and demons, cockroaches, snakes, spiders, water, bridges, tunnels, enclosed spaces, needles, failure, people, public speaking, social rejection ,intimacy, examinations, driving, flying, heights, clowns, death, terrorist attacks, criminal, war, gang violence, the future and being alone.
Try the following tips on how to fight your fears:
- TIME OUT Step away from your thoughts to distract yourself from the worry. Try going for a walk, having a cup of tea, doodling on a page.
- BREATHE To help calm your adrenaline filled body, place a hand on your stomach and become aware of breathing slowly and deeply.
- FACE TO FACE Once you face your fear, they will begin to fade. Trying getting in that lift, standing up and talking, or whatever your fear is for you.
- AVOID PERFECTION life is a messy blend of good days and bad days, and there is no such thing as perfection, so simply know you are enough.
- CELEBRATE YOUR SMALL WINS When you start to face your fears, whether stepping into a lift, or standing up and introducing yourself in a meeting, celebrate this new leap of faith. Positive changes are most worthy of recognition, so treat yourself. A beauty treatment, a book, or a night in with just you and your newly discovered courageous heart. You have got this.