One of the things that are common to every human being is fear. It is one of the great equalisers of humanity. We all have it. Some have a better way of dealing with it, but that’s not to say they’re scared of nothing.
We all grew up with the notion that fear is wrong, that it brings only negativity to life. And to a certain extent, it is true. A lot of our childhood fears have never been dealt with properly, which is why we carry them over into adulthood.
We all have things we’re afraid of. It can be non-relevant things such as spiders, reptiles, darkness, the bogeyman, and other similar things. Or it can be something a lot more serious that could adversely affect our well-being. Fear of failure. Fear of loving and being loved. Fear of happiness. Fear of disappointing loved ones. Fear of getting too close to people. Fear of being hurt.
For us to get over our fears, we need to understand how fear works.
Fear is our body and mind’s natural response to any perceived threat — real or unreal. It makes our hearts beat faster, incapacitates our logical thinking, and paralyses us. Whenever we’re faced with something threatening, we are deduced to two courses of action: fight or flee.
The truth is, fear is neither positive nor negative. It is how you choose to look at it. It can be your best ally or your worst nightmare. It is both.
On the one hand, it can protect you and prevent you from getting hurt. Just as a company rule or a family law tells you to stay within specific parameters so that you don’t get in trouble, healthy fear also creates the same sense of boundaries that keep you safe. It tells you it’s not safe to let a child run around with a knife or a pair of scissors in his or her hand. It warns you of the imminent dangers of standing too close to the balcony edge 40-stories up.
Fear also helps us empathise with people knowing that we struggle with fear ourselves. It keeps us humble and grounded yet also boosts our morale in a way since we know that not one person is above the other. As mentioned earlier, it is a great equaliser among men.
On the other hand, fear can also paralyse you and prevent you from progressing in life. Specific phobias such as fear of failure or committing to a relationship (as cheesy as it sounds) all prevent us from experiencing a full life.
Face Your Fears
The only way you can truly live a full life is if you look at your fears dead in the eye and confront it. In the ‘90s, a famous clothing brand known as No Fear had this slogan, “Face your fears, live your dreams.”
Truer words have never been spoken (or written, in this case). It is said that “courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it.”
When you learn how to face your fears and overcome them, you grow braver, stronger, and wiser. If you’re afraid of snakes, it can be as simple as trying to pet one at the local zoo. You don’t need to get over it in one go. Start small and work your way up.
List down some things you’re scared to do and give them a go one fear at a time. Ask someone out on a date to overcome your fear of rejection. Start a friendly conversation with the person next to you on the bus. Try out some new cuisine.
You’ll find that as you do so, you’re building a stronger foundation to help withstand whatever fearful things an uncertain future brings your way. You have better chances of weathering any storm. You’re not making your life storm-free; instead, you’re storm-proofing it.
Though some of the things you’re “afraid” of may seem trivial and insignificant to others, do it anyway. Face them, and don’t run away. It’s your fear, not theirs. The important thing is you’re progressing in life by overcoming your fears one at a time.