Nobody enjoys being afraid. Fear is very uncomfortable.
Since it is obviously unrealistic to expect to go through life without encountering fear, it’s best we have a plan when fear arises . When fear enters my life, I have learned to imagine it as a “messenger” who is trying to tell me something. I try to “listen” to the message. I ask, “what is the messenger trying to tell me”? “Is it an alarm of clear and present danger or a subtle warning of a minor disturbance in my life. Maybe it’s simply lack of understanding of what’s coming next.
If I neglect to honor my feeling of fear, I’m not really doing myself much good, in fact chances are I’ll end up doing something reckless or foolish just to prove to myself that I’ve “conquered” my fear. Yes, I want to be courageous during uncomfortable situations, but not with reckless abandon. I try to be courageous with mindful respect for each situation.
For example, there have been times in my life when I was afraid of driving in city streets, public speaking, fire and my ultimate fear, the Disneyland ride “It’s a small world”. At different times in my life I felt out of control when I encountered those situations. Today, I no longer feel as fearful during the same situations. Does that mean my fears were unrealistic or without merit at the time? Absolutely not. At the time my fear was real but I have made changes in how approach those scary situations, I am more comfortable with situations which once scared me. I have changed.
I don’t try and fool myself into thinking that I do not have fear. I pay attention to my fear, I try to understand it, to accept it, to learn from it an maybe even ask for advise or help from other people in addressing it.
What chaged with respect to my old fears? Fire is a healthy fear, I still respect fire. My fear of city streets is a reaction to being out of control of other peoples behavior, I’m extra cautious and alert when walking or driving in a city. Overcoming my fear of public speaking took time and practice I eventually gained an improved sense of self confidence that my thoughts have value and they I can help other people. Speaking in public has become an important part of my life, it’s now part of my life’s passion. If I had never faced that fear, I would have missed out on living my life fully.
I’m still working on my fear of the Disney ride.
Fear is nothing more than a message. Fear always offers a lesson. Don’t let fear prevent you from trying new things. Gather the strength to proceed with mindful caution and accept mistakes as part of growth. Good luck.