Fear is a storm that comes swiftly, one of our most compelling emotions, and overcoming it requires determination and patience with oneself. We cannot always expect to conquer our fears all in one go, but we should do our best to keep going and not give up. The art of conquering fear is something I have struggled with for my entire life, but there is satisfaction in getting through a frightening situation and knowing you are better now that you are on the other side.
There are many types of fear. Some of these include:
- The fear of real and imminent danger in which you may really be in harm’s way.
- The fear of possible future dangers or perilous situations.
- The fear of the unknown and anxiety concerning that of which we are unaware.
- The fears of specific things or situations, such as phobias.
- The fear of everything going wrong and worrying about the future.
- The fear of consequences for our actions.
Some of these fears are good for us. They keep us alert and aware of things around us that might warrant caution so we can make rational decisions in efforts to be safe and secure. They also guide our behaviors so that we do not act in ways that have negative consequences, such as not wasting money for fear of financial struggles, or not committing crimes for fear of legal repercussions.
However, there are problems that can arise from too much fear, which can lead to pervasive anxiety that can actually inhibit your ability to function and carry out tasks and be productive. This is a major battle that some people fight in their everyday lives, fear that has gone untamed and unmanaged.
Sometimes we can avoid chronic anxiety by facing our fears head on. This is often called exposure, where you are exposed to the stimulus that triggers your fear and, when there is nothing to be afraid of or nothing dangerous occurs, it allows you to feel more comfortable in that situation. This is good for phobias. But sometimes our fears are rooted in things we cannot see, such as the future or life’s demands.
I struggle with these kinds of fears, and while I am always in the process of learning how to overcome various anxieties, there are things that I have been able to overcome simply by persevering. I have learned some things that help me and I thought I would share.
Be willing to admit you’re afraid. You cannot face your fears if you do not acknowledge what it is that scares you.
Be willing to face it at least once. If you can find the courage to take that leap of faith and test the waters, then you will find that your ability to face your fears will gradually grow stronger.
Don’t feel ashamed for having fear. Everyone is fearful of something and all of our fears are different. I am terrified of public speaking and driving in big cities. But there are many people who do not share those fears with me. Yet there are people who are afraid of writing papers for classes or reports for work, which cause me little to no anxiety. People are different.
Don’t ridicule others for their fears. Instead encourage one another to face what we want to avoid and be one another’s strength.
Don’t give up if you fail. It is easy to get discouraged when something proves too overwhelming for us, but that just means we have to find what works for us and try something new. It should not be a shameful thing to be unsuccessful when first facing fears. Just don’t give up.
Be patient with yourself. You cannot always rush the quest to conquer your fears. Some will be easier to overcome than others. Do not put so much pressure on yourself that you collapse because that defeats the whole purpose.
Stay strong and keep going. You will find a way to conquer your fears if you keep trying. And ask for help if you need it. Find people who are willing to support you in your endeavor to find courage.
I struggle with an anxiety disorder, so I have had many challenges in facing obstacles. I had to overcome my fears of college and being exposed in a new environment, not knowing what was going to happen or if I was going to make it through. But I was determined to push through and keep up with my work regardless of my fears. I didn’t really have any friends on campus my first year or so, which made me a quite lonely, and being lonely in the world of college is overwhelming. But when I put myself out there a little more and made myself talk to people, I made several friends who became my first lifelong companions, and if I had given up and stayed in my shell, I would never have met them.
There are still things that I have yet to face and I am always looking for the courage to try new things and face other fears. As I have said, it is a process, and sometimes it takes looking at myself to figure out what is good for me, and then trying other routes to conquer the anxiety.
Overcoming fear is a difficult process, but when we open ourselves up to our potential, we might be surprised to find that we are capable of more than we ever realized.