Fear is a part of life.
We all experience it. We all live through it. And most of us fight against it at some point.
And a lot of us fail in that struggle.
Merriam-Webster defines fear as:
to feel fear in (oneself)
to have a reverential awe of (fear in) God
to be afraid of : expect with alarm/fear the worst
There are different fears we experience in life.
The second definition isn’t necessarily a bad thing; for instance, most human beings have that kind of fear of Mother Nature. She’s powerful and awe-inspiring, and can be quite fearsome. It’s that third definition we have to worry about. And ya know what? I’m tired of worrying about it and feeding it.
We have a choice in what we feed our minds, hearts, and spirits. We can destroy ourselves by feeding a particular fear.
This is the one that I struggle with the most, and if you’re reading this, then you’ve probably had your dealings with fear, too. It’s not easy, and it definitely ain’t pretty.
But let me ask you something.
Do we control fear or do we let fear control us? For me, I’ve often let fear control my thoughts, emotions, and actions in a situation. It’s often felt like a switch I couldn’t turn off.
Uncomfortable or frightening situation? BOOM. Flipped switch. Fear is in control.
But over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that fear feeds and grows on the power that we give it. It can become this monstrous entity if we give it that authority.
What can we do to fight this? Like many things in life, the answer is easier said (or typed!) than done.
My Personal History With Fear
Fear and I go way back…
The fear I’m talking about is the kind that is usually irrational, but could potentially have some roots in our backgrounds, in certain things we’ve been through.
My story starts when I was pretty young. As long as I can remember, I’ve been afraid of the dark. Now, we could debate the root cause of that particular fear for awhile, but that’s not really the point of this.
By the way, I know talking about fear is not something that most people find comfortable—myself included. I hope that by discussing my personal history on the topic with you that you’ll feel comfortable enough to do the same with someone you trust.
Being an introvert and growing up painfully shy, I also dealt with a lot of social anxiety that manifested itself in a variety of ways, from being reluctant to interact with peers, to being fearful of a lot of new people. This fear grew and grew over the years and slowly morphed into something I couldn’t quite control.
Why? Because I fed it.
A lot of times, unintentionally.
I fed it in some of the t.v. shows I watched. Unfortunately, I became a fan of those insane, intense Lifetime thriller movies at a young age (too young to be watching that kind of programming, let me tell you). You know the ones I’m talking about? Where someone always gets murdered? Good times. Those movies are crazy and ridiculous, but just believable enough to influence the thoughts and emotions in an impressionable child and teenager. I also watched a lot of crime dramas, and the material discussed in those shows was sort of addicting.
The whole vibe of that genre of television is often really believable. Too believable. Too…realistic. It didn’t help with my fear. My fear was only growing, and it was affecting my social anxiety in a major way. It was getting worse. I knew that this was one of those fears that you can’t ignore. Fear (and the things you fear) has the potential to take over your life and influence your life’s path, decisions, and more. I knew I had to make a change.
You may be in a similar situation, dealing with the same fear as me or a different one that has latched onto your life. If so, you’ve no doubt wondered to yourself,”How do I fix this?” “Is this just me—am I crazy?” “Why am I the only one who struggles with this?”
Hey, you’re not. You’d be surprised at just how many people are struggling with the same fears as you. We’re in this together, friend.
A couple of years ago, I started to realize the connection between the things I was feeding my eyes and my brain (crappy, inappropriate television), and I knew I had to cut it out of my life. Like I said, I know my television choices were slightly ridiculous and over the top, but try telling fear that. It doesn’t care. It can still take over and make you believe slightly ridiculous and over the top lies.
What are you willing to cut out of your life to help eliminate your fear? If you have a history of unintentionally (or intentionally) feeding your own personal fear(s), are you willing to make a change?
Fear has two meanings:
“forget everything and run”
“face everything and rise.”
The choice is yours.
5 Ways To Stop Feeding Fear
1 | Stop ignoring triggers.
For me, the word “trigger” can mean a few different things, but in this context today, I mean those actions/thoughts/etc. that cause you to behave, think, or react in a certain way (usually with negative repercussions). Triggers can take on a variety of forms. It can be a type of music you listen to that you may enjoy in the moment but leads to a negative mindset later. A trigger can be a person (even a loved one). Maybe when you’re around them, their energy tends to bring you down. Defeatist self-talk is most definitely a trigger for more negative thoughts and emotions.
One of my most apparent triggers is watching certain things that increase my social anxiety. Often, we don’t realize the kind of negative effects the things we see have on our mental state. Visual triggers are a powerful influence. I started by slowly eliminating those things that I knew were triggers and fed my fear. I couldn’t let that kind of negativity into my mind anymore, and I couldn’t let the things I saw on t.v. affect my anxiety and overall well-being. And I knew they couldn’t…they didn’t have the power to affect me anymore…if I would only let them go and cut them out of my life completely.
What sets you off? What is your trigger for continued negative situations? You need to learn this. You can’t eliminate what you don’t know. Knowing your triggers means freedom. What you allow is what will continue. This process isn’t always easy, but it’s a start. I’m still continuing to identify the events that lead to an increase in fear and anxiety in my own life.What you allow is what will continue.Click To Tweet
2 | Rely on past successful life events.
You have successfully achieved at least one thing in your life, even if you can’t think of it at this moment. Maybe you successfully completed high school and then college. Maybe you successfully completed a job interview and now have your dream career. Whatever it is, you achieved that. But you probably had your share of self-doubt and fear along the way to that success. That’s human. We tend to fear the unknown, and what’s more unknown than the future and trying to adult successfully?
There are so many things I used to think I couldn’t do. Fear held me back a lot when I was younger and even when I was a teenager—even once I was in college! I’ve never been great at public speaking. My own version of hell is vocal class participation and presentations. I mean, who comes up with this stuff…??
Anyway, I successfully completed four years of undergrad, and yeah, I was required to speak up and voice my thoughts on more than one occasion—no easy thing for an introvert, amiright?
I had a stressful summer a couple of years ago where I thought I wasn’t going to be able to graduate on time with the rest of my class. In order to graduate, I needed to find and complete an internship and work my way through a foreign language class in the span of a few months. I felt stressed out, intimidated, and fearful that I wouldn’t be able to do this before my final semester at college.
But I thought of all the things I’d accomplished up to that point that I hadn’t thought I could do. It boosted my confidence and helped to calm my anxiety about the whole situation. In the end, I was able to successfully complete both my internship and summer class, and I did graduate on time with all my friends.
At any point when you feel fear starting to take back control, just remember all the things you’ve done in your life this far, things you were once afraid of. But you powered through and pushed yourself, and you were okay.
You’ll be okay again.
3 | Acknowledge fear then move on.
Sometimes, all you can do is recognize your fear for what it is and give it a moment to be a drama queen. Take a moment to accept the fear so that you fully know what’s triggering it (and you) and why.
- Why are you afraid to confront your friend over hurt feelings and misunderstandings? Is it because you avoid conflict? Do you struggle to articulate your feelings? Do you think confronting your friend will result in the termination of your friendship?
- Why are you afraid to lose weight? Do you secretly believe you won’t be able to? (refer back to #2 above) Or do you think you’ll gain the weight back, so there’s no point in trying? Do you believe people will begin to treat you differently (in a negative way?) Do you believe you don’t deserve to be happy in your own body?
- Why are you afraid to seek help from a therapist? Is it because you think people will judge you? Do you think you’re too far gone to receive help or change your life?
There is usually a reason for why we are fearful of a certain event or thing. Sometimes, it requires you to dig deep down to uncover those reasons.
Often, they don’t want to be found, and we’re too reluctant to know the real answer.
But until you can acknowledge the reasons and the fear itself, you’ll remain burdened by that specific fear.
Try to begin to think logically about how to either overcome the reason for the fear or to understand why it shouldn’t even be an issue in the first place.
4 | Talk to someone.
I truly believe there is almost nothing better than having an authentic heart-to-heart with someone who you love and trust. Not even warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven can compete with that.
Yeah. It’s a big deal.
Give your troubles over to someone else. You don’t have to carry this burden by yourself; you deserve to have someone help you along the way. Take me, for instance. I’m talking to you right now. I’m sharing my story with you in the hope that it encourages you to take charge of your fear and gain back control. Talk it over with someone else. So many times when I’m feeling nervous about something, after I talk it over with a close family member, friend, or mentor, I either figure out my own solution to the problem as I’m talking it over or talking about it just calms me down a lot so I can do what I need to do without as much apprehension.
It’s a mind saver.
Do you have someone you can talk to? If not, just know that I’m here for you, and I’ve been where you are right now. I’m not someone who opens up easily (think of it as like trying to take the lid off a paint can), but I cherish the time I spend with people I love.
When we share those hidden parts of ourselves with others, true healing can begin.When we share those hidden parts of ourselves with others, true healing can begin.Click To Tweet
5 | Break out of your comfort zone.
Stop allowing fear to take the reigns of your life. And yeah, you must do this—it’s absolutely necessary. Several years ago, I started testing myself, purposefully making myself do things I knew would push me waaay far out of my comfort zone. I couldn’t even see my comfort zone most of the time.
I talked to strangers and made new friends.
I stood up for myself.
I traveled away from home for long periods of time and endured my first (serious) case of homesickness.
I volunteered to go first during big presentations. If you’re a fellow introvert reading this, I know you know how HUGE this was for me.
I did stuff before I knew I was ready.
I had difficult conversations with family members and strengthened relationships.
Was I freakin’ scared? Um, duh.
Did I keep going? Absolutely (even though I probably could have peed myself a couple of times).
It’s something I just didn’t have the courage to do as much when I was a teenager, but when I got to college, I knew it was “now or never.” So, I did things that made me super uncomfortable. And guess what? I obviously lived to tell about it…with minor lingering embarrassment for most of those situations. 😉
And sometimes I even excelled at things I thought I would totally suck at. So that made me feel pretty encouraged and awesome.
Nothing great ever happens in your comfort zone. I know this now. What is something you’ve been too fearful to do? How can you break out of that place of safety?
I’m still busy stripping away negativity and bogus reasons for enabling my fear to continue and grow. I think it’ll always be a lifetime struggle, but it’s one I’m willing to fight.
Are you willing to fight for your peace of mind? I hope you are.
I want you to know that I’m here fighting for you, too.
Read more posts about self care:
- 14 Self Care Hacks for Your Lunch Break
- Understanding Your Love Language as an Introvert
- 5 Mindset Shifts to Stop Comparison-itis
- 4 Epic Ways Introverts Can Improve Their Relationships
- 20 Emma Watson Quotes to Empower Your Inner Feminist
What is a fear (or fears) you are currently struggling to overcome? If you don’t feel comfortable sharing with those closest to you, just know that I’m willing to lend a listening ear. What can I do to help? Just comment below and let me know—I’d love to chat with you.
You got this, boo.
Let’s get to know each other better.