We go through all kinds of fear, which may take any shape or form. Some of us fear cockroaches and clowns, while others fear heights. There are even people who have “ablutophobia”, which is the fear of bathing. Is conquering this fear possible?
In clinical psychology, a phobia is a type of anxiety disorder usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation. Whatever the case, fear is a real thing. Simply defined, fear is the uneasy feeling caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience.
What are your fears? For some people, it is the fear of failure. The notion that failure will bring humiliation and ridicule is enough to prevent some of us from trying new things.
Others are so comfortable with their status quo that any ideas that may shake their current comfort zones are a fear to them. As a result, many people prefer to take the more comfortable route where they do not have to face their fears. The consequences? Life goes on without us fulfilling our full potential. We end up at best living mediocre lives because of the B-grade decision we make, out of fear.
History tells us that the great exploits of the world are the results of men and women who have overcome their fear and walked through the corridors of courage and perseverance. Imagine what the world would look like if not for the bravery of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and William Wilberforce?
What powerful breakthroughs the world will see from the courage of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head because she defied threats from the Taliban to fight for the right to education? While some form of fear is expected in life, there are also fears that are abnormal and unwarranted.
Such unwarranted fears are usually unhealthy and create an irrational pattern of worry and anxiety. Fearful people will often experience the following three setbacks:
- High stress. The evil twins of fear and stress always go hand in hand. An unhealthy level of fear leads to a stressful life. In some extreme situations, this can even lead to mental and emotional meltdowns.
- Irrational decisions (or indecisions). When fear is present, logic and common sense may not prevail. The preoccupation with the negative consequences of what may happen easily overpowers a person’s logic. As a result, fear cripples our ability to make the right decisions.
- Unfulfilled potential. When a person is fearful, he or she will have a more defensive mindset in approaching life. Rather than playing to win at life, the person plays to avoid losing. This results in a mediocre life, robbed of its full potential.
Fear is a thief. It robs us of the wonderful realities of what can happen in our lives if we were free from the intimidations of fear. So, how can we overcome fear and stand bravely?
Here are five principles:
1. Face your fear head on
People who choose not to face their fears are either in denial or have an escapist mindset. Both approaches are psychological coping mechanisms that do not necessarily resolve fear issues. Overcoming our fears have to begin with acknowledging what our fears are and then deciding to conquer them bravely.
2. Every fear reveals our success potential
There is a common saying that in every crisis, there is an opportunity. Similarly, in every fear of ours, therein lies the seed of our untapped potential.
Our fears actually reveal to us the things we could achieve if we were not afraid. Once we recognise these fears and overcome them, we will unleash a mighty river of dynamism and drive that will bring success and significance into our lives.
3. Do not be afraid of your fears
Many of the unwarranted fears we face are due to how we perceive and interpret them. If we choose to see them through the lenses of loss and pain, we will back down and retreat. But if we see them through the lenses of opportunities and blessings, we will be motivated to advance forward with bravery, which can be simply defined as the fearless and daring courage to do the right thing.
4. See with eyes of hope
Hope is a powerful force. Hope is the confident expectation that things will become better in the future. A wise king once said:
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
When hope is lost, we lose sight of any trace of success, advancement and victory. Hence, we need to open the eyes of our heart and see with eyes of faith that no fear is too difficult to overcome as long as we have hope.
5. Brave it out
Fear is an attitude. If we choose to embrace it, it sticks to us like a leech. This leech, if unattended, can suck out much of life’s vitality, leaving us defeated and unfulfilled. In the midst of fierce opposition and uncertainty, Mandela said:
“Courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Mandela was right. Courage is not the absence of fear. The key is to silence it. Motivational speaker Les Brown has often been credited as saying that:
“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry our their dream.”
So, the question is: What would you do if you had no fear? The degree to which you can be free from your fears is equal to the degree of success in your life.
Go on, conquer your fear. Stand bravely!
Watch this great video on how you can conquer your childhood fear and your past