Fear is one of those inexplicable, gut-wrenching feelings that can prevent you from doing or achieving pretty much anything.
I’ve been coming across the term quite a bit lately, in blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, and other media. It has made me wonder, what is it about fear that can be so paralyzing? And how can we conquer it whenever we are faced with its all-consuming presence?
Fear has many faces, many stages of development, and many levels of control over us. It can be as insignificant as a mosquito bite, or as powerful as wave currents. Still, we all have to deal with it whether it is insignificant or incredibly powerful. So, what is it then? What is it about fear that can thwart our progress and goals on the spot? And again, how do we conquer it?
I’ll be honest. I am not absolutely sure about answering the first question. We are all different and the sources of our fears all come from different places. Perhaps it has something to do with our personalities. Some people seem to be completely fearless, while others struggle constantly. I don’t know. What I do know is this, fear is real and its power can be as real as we allow it to be.
I fear many things, and trust me, snakes are just the tip of the iceberg. But what I fear most is being afraid. Letting that confusing, mind-controlling, hindering emotion stop me from achieving something is in fact one of my most terrifying thoughts. Fear can become a monster, not like the ones you thought hid under your bed when you were a child, but the ones that are invincible and follow you around every hour of the day picking and choosing the way you live your life.
Let me share with you what I’ve discovered in the past year about the way I deal with fear personally. Maybe my experience can shed some light on your own personal struggles, whatever those are.
In the past year I began sharing my writing for the first time with people and, both through the process of sharing my stories and creating new ones, I’ve come to learn something about myself. When it comes to fear, I either punch it in the face immediately before it affects me too much, or I gradually pet it until it becomes a tamed friend. Don’t take me wrong, the monster puts up a fight either way I approach it, but if it’s me taking the first step, then the ball always remains on my side of the court. It may sound strange to think about engaging fear. Most of the time we don’t want to, we just wish it would go away on its own. But the truth is, it never does. Fear won’t walk away, and if we try to walk away from it, it will only follow us. So the only option we are left with is engagement.
Engaging our fears may be even scarier than living with them, after all, we have become used to those furry friends that seem to always come back to us. But if we don’t engage with our own fears, sooner or later, their distant cousins will also come knocking at our door. We will have stacks of personal regrets piled everywhere, and if there is anything scarier than fear for me, is having too many regrets to count. There is nothing more distressing or soul-crunching that regretting a life that could have been, but wasn’t.
So don’t let fear stick around untamed. Engage with it, gradually or at once, it doesn’t matter as long as you do it. Like Seven, the main character of my stories, would say:
“Fear is an unaffordable luxury. We have to conquer it in order to live.”
What do you do to conquer your fears? Share in the comments section below.