Or Choosing to Remain Fearful
Fear is the #1 reason for stress and anxiety in many people today. Fear of death, fear of the future, fear of losing a job, fear of pain, fear of going broke, fear of fear . . .
If you can overcome your fears, you will be way ahead of the game. You will perform better, sleep better, have better and longer lasting relationships, and be an overall happier individual. I sound like a used car salesman, but you have to admit, these are major concerns and goals for most of us.
There are great resources out there for coping with fear. I found one-on-one therapy to be extremely effective. Talk about your fears and work through them with a trained professional; it’s money and time well spent.
Not addressing your fears will only lead to distress and unhappiness. It’s one of the few things in life we can control. I write about this not as an expert, but as a person who has spent a great deal of time working through my fears.
“The Difference Between Fear and Anxiety,” Very Well Mind, Ankrom, July 8, 2020.
What Is Fear?
Fear is an emotional response to a known or definite threat. If you’re walking down a dark street, for example, and someone points a gun at you and says, “This is a robbery,” then you’d likely experience a fear response. The danger is real, definite, and immediate. There’s a clear and present object of the fear.1
Although the focus of the response is different (real vs. imagined danger), fear and anxiety are interrelated. When faced with fear, most people will experience the physical reactions that are described under anxiety. Fear can cause anxiety, and anxiety can cause fear. But the subtle distinctions between the two give you a better understanding of your symptoms and may be important for treatment strategies.
Why Fear Can Be Debilitating or A Barrier to Success/Happiness
I have a person in my life who is so afraid of outcomes, it takes her a very long time to make decisions — if and when she even makes them at all. Unfortunately, because sometimes life happens rapidly, opportunities often pass her by. If fear gets in the way of living your life, that’s a huge problem.
There are those who are so fearful of being hurt, emotionally and physically, it stops them from doing important everyday tasks (i.e., driving, crossing the street, confronting someone who is treating them poorly). There are so many others I did not name.
How We Run Away From Fear
Self-awareness is essential and its advantages are vast for so many reasons; however, when it comes to fear, you might be able to name the fear or identify the fear, but you may not have the ability to manage it. I wish I could say concurring fear or managing fear is easy, most of us know it’s not.
How Fear Can Motivate
If you like a good challenge, you may see fear as an opportunity to push through it and come out on top. For example, if heights are a problem for you, but you really want to experience a vista from a mountain or rooftop, if you’re able to manage the fear and climb that mountain, the accomplishment of that task might be a significant reward or pay-off.
A Fear of Mine: I am afraid of my anger. Because I have witnessed physical abuse from someone I care about, I fear becoming abusive. For this reason I check my anger constantly. If I’m in a situation and I feel myself heating up, I walk away. I take deep breaths and I think about my anger and the damage I could do. By managing my anger and defusing it, I can claim my appropriate reaction as a prize. Not only do I get the prize, in addition, I have learned a better way of coping with my anger. Each time I disarm my anger, I improve my response. I’m at a point now where I rarely have to remind myself to back down; it’s almost automatic. My goal is to be completely calm in every situation, not easy for a hothead like me.
Some people become extremely frustrated by my non-reaction; these people like a good fight. Just remember, that’s not your problem or concern. Your concern is your own peace of mind and feeling secure with your behavior.
Another of my fears is losing Paco (my dog). Sometimes this fear is so intense, it prevents me from getting a good night’s sleep. I dwell on what could happen to him. I often think that I cannot imagine what kind of a father I would have been. I’m not sure there is enough therapy in the world. I will admittedly never be completely at peace with this fear.
Even writing about my fears has been tremendously helpful: identify, attack, overcome, and celebrate. Reassess occasionally and reinforce if need be.
A few years ago I was writing my bucket list and I got to #7, “jump out of a plane (skydive).” I wondered what the heck I was waiting for and I made a reservation to do it that very weekend. Procrastinating seemed ridiculous because the only thing stopping me up until that point was the cost. I figured I’d either take the money out of savings and suck it up or lament about it later in life. Honestly, it was one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done.
You cannot help but consider death when you’re skydiving. Parachute could get stuck, you could accidently hit a tree or some other large object, you could hit the ground head first, yada yada yada. While free falling and marveling at the world from that height, it occured to me that if I did die, it would be over quickly and it would be a great story: Christopher had an accident skydiving and he died instantly with a smile on his face. Seriously, that’s what I thought. I honestly wasn’t afraid. I’d already been hang gliding, deep sea diving, and raised by a lunatic; I figured I’d survive this too.
I don’t fear death. What I fear is a long, debilitating illness. I can assure you that if I have any say in the matter, this will not be the case. I will have a right to choose and I will choose death with dignity — thank you very much. One of the many things I feel very strongly about.
I checked skydiving off my list and decided I had no reason to ever do it again. Sometimes just getting yourself to do the thing is enough. My bucket list is ever changing. It can be long or short depending on my mood. It’s just a list; as you well know, I love lists.
I hope parts of this blog have been relatable. If your working on a fear and the work your doing is effective, please share so I can relay your success and assist others who might be dealing with a similar challenge. We have more in common than we realize; it boggles my mind that so many of us end up suffering alone.
Concurring my fear of asking for help and being rejected, has been a major challenge. The worst case scenario is a “no” or a “I can’t help.” In this case you learn who your friends are and who you can truly depend on — both good things to know.
I’m hoping I don’t sound preachy or righteous — please tell me if you think that’s the case. Works-in-progress need critical feedback.
Topics are selected randomly. Sometimes it may be something I’m grappling with; at other times it may be a nagging demon, and perhaps it may be divine intervention.
Alvor, Portugal, end of July, Nantes and Pornic in mid-August, Toronto, Denver, and Detroit in mid-September, Northern Europe NCL cruise in early October, with some time in London for West End Theatre, Lyon in late November and I’ve decided to stay put in Portugal for Christmas.