Have you ever seen a horse that refuses to jump during an equestrian run? The momentary pause that happens right before the horse is meant to jump its hurdle is the same pause most of us take before we’re about to conquer a fear.
What happens when the horse hesitates? It trips and crashes into the very obstacle it was about to jump over. The same holds true for people who get tripped up by their own negative thinking patterns and self-doubt.
When we refuse to believe we’re strong enough, brave enough, or good enough, we fall back and allow our fears to dictate our lives.
What are some steps we should take to overcome fear?
Psychologists use a technique called “flooding.” What this means is, patients work with a therapist to intentionally encounter the very thing that scares them the most. If the fear is something like arachnophobia (i.e. fear of spiders), the patient would first look at a picture of a spider, then look at a movie with spiders, then enter a room with a live spider, and so on.
Since you probably don’t want to head down that route, I will share a personal story of how I overcame my greatest fear. The fear of judgement from others.
As a kid, I grew up believing I would never be able to share my personal life story with anyone. I grew up during a time when society was not as open and understanding as it is today. Back then, no one was openly gay, people did not tweet bout their latest meals, the world seemed much bigger and closed off.
Now, thanks to the internet, people can easily meet and communicate with strangers in other countries, learn about anything they wish, and find new interests and hobbies at the press of a button.
When I was younger, having beta thalassemia major, a rare genetic blood disorder, was a socially unacceptable thing to talk about. My friends didn’t know about my hospital visits and my family didn’t discuss it. I’m not saying social stigmas do not exist today. I’m just saying, people are more open to new ideas. Many are sympathetic, because they have, for the most part, been exposed to different ways of thinking and living via the internet, television, and film. People are more curious and eager to learn.
As I’ve grown older, I realized the fear that I had about sharing my story and being judged by others didn’t stem from what was happening in the external world. I realized that my internal world dictated what was happening in my external world. I did not accept myself, illness and all, for most of my life. When I opened up to people to tell them about my personal experiences with my illness, I would cry and cry. The tears were not because I was in physical pain. The tears were there because I did not want to be me. I hated myself.
So, how did I overcome my fear of being negatively judged by others? I slowly opened up to more and more people and realized that they didn’t leave me after I shared my story with them. They weren’t disgusted or horrified, as my imagination dreamed they would be. Instead, they were incredibly compassionate and understanding. The people I opened up to taught me how to be kind and respectful to myself. They showed me that I needed to love myself first.
I eventually gained enough courage to want to share my story and go live with this website. The self-doubt and fear I once had came flooding back with this desire. However, this time, I knew that I would have to confront my fear by pushing forward and going against every grain in my body. All of my old fears brewed and flooded my brain with negative thoughts. When I put my About Me section up, I was terrified. I knew it was something I had to do to overcome my fear. I used that feeling of terror to move me into action to press the publish button. I shifted the energy from negative to positive and reminded myself that my intention for building this site is to help other people.
Simple Techniques Overcome Fear:
Acknowledge the feeling of fear that exists in your body. Where does it reside? In your chest? In your stomach?
Practice dissolving the feeling of fear by shining the light of your attention on it.
Talk about your fear with someone else whom you believe will be open and sympathetic to your struggle.
Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that the fear was generated by your mind to help you avoid pain.
Think about the truth behind the fear. Is your imagination running wild? Try to find reality in the situation. For example, my imagination led me to believe I wasn’t as loveable as someone who didn’t have a chronic illness. This thought is simply untrue. Life presents unexpected situations to everyone. We are equally loveable, no matter what circumstance he or she was born into or may fall into.
Confront your fear by doing the exact thing that terrifies you (as long as it’s healthy and safe). If you’re terrified of driving over a bridge, drive over a bridge. If you’re terrified of sharing your story with someone, share your story with someone. You won’t believe how much of a relief you will feel once you jump over that hurdle and face your fear.
So, here’s to you for caring enough about your life to overcome your fears.
Share this Post