Disclaimer: The word “fear” appears embarrassingly many times in this piece.
In previous years, fear had a firm grip on my life. You could say that overcoming it was one of my greatest accomplishments.
I used to be fearless when I was younger. My inner child shone brightly. Unfortunately, society engulfed me in its gloomy palms as I grew older.
Soon, I realized courage had completely vanished from my life. Of course, I saw the warning signs, such as my inner critic growing and extreme pessimism, but I chose to ignore them. I may have thought I was going through a phase as I walked through this passage. But I was mistaken.
I’ve lost track of how many things I’ve avoided because of fear — Everything I’ve been afraid to say. All of the things I’ve avoided because of fear.
I became tired at one point. I simply gave up trying. I simply existed and wasn’t living. My potential was being squandered, but whenever I tried to act, my inner critic yelled at me. I resigned.
Fear and I used to be best friends, but not anymore. Not until that fateful day.
A spelling bee competition was held in my secondary school. As usual, I wanted to stay out of the spotlight and play my support role: make the drafts, arrange the halls, and so on. But, much to my surprise, I was chosen by my colleagues. They said I had good spelling skills.
So, on the big day, I was the last person called up to the stage. I walked up, sweating bullets, heart racing, hands shaking, and adrenaline pumping. I was pleased with myself. Even though I was in pain, I stood there waiting to hear my assigned word and spell. It arrived then. I was asked to spell ‘charlatan.’ I was in a bind. Fear had fried my brain, but my heart knew that word. I couldn’t think clearly. I started spelling the word with an ‘S’ and quickly gave up.
My school came in second place. It was my fault. If I spelled my word correctly, we might be the first.
That’s when I started asking myself serious questions. If I let fear rule my life, I would not only cause problems for myself, but also for others. And the Lord forbid that I should burden another.
The person I am now is not the same. I’m still scared. But now I’ve turned my fear into courage. I get back up when I fall. When I succeed, I continue forward.
I guess you could say I stopped caring what other people said or thought. I chose to fight my fears, just as Courage did with ghosts and paranormal spirits. I’m not going to let it take over my life.
If it were just me, it could have its way, but it isn’t about me. It is about other people. If I allowed fear to take over in God’s green earth, I would definitely not awaken my full potential or have an impact on others. I’d be betraying my Creator.
One thing I am certain of is that everyone experiences fear. However, how we deal with fear is critical.
For instance- When you first start out a business, you are afraid and wonder, “What if my business fails?” But then you just say, “ Screw it all, I’m going to do my best and learn as I build” or when you walk into an exam room, you feel terrified. You may wonder, “What if I forget what I read?” What if I don’t succeed? Then you say, “Scratch that! I’ve finished all of my reading materials. I’m going to pass. Even if I fail, there’s always the option of a makeover.” See the difference in response and handling? That should be your goal.
How to Overcome Fear
Fear is something that everyone experiences. For some, the sensation consumes them, while for others, it lingers or is conquered.
If you fall into the first category, there are steps you can take to overcome your fears.
- Understand Thyself
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle– Sun Tzu, The Art of War.
You know yourself better than anyone else. You are aware of what motivates you. You are aware of what sets you off. You are aware of what makes you nervous. In my case, failure instilled fear in me. My fears began to fade the moment I stopped viewing failure as a death sentence and instead as an opportunity to learn.
- The Trap of the Comfort Zone
Don’t we all love our comfort zones? However, nothing good happens there. We’re safe, shielded, and clothed in our zones. But staying there can be a trap, a deep abyss.
You persuade yourself that you don’t have to face your fears. Perhaps it’s just normal. Then you make do with less. You don’t make use of your abilities or gifts. You simply sit and wait. I’ve been there, and I wish I could go back in time.
The advantage of recognizing this trap is that you can escape quickly. Put yourself in awkward situations.
As an example: Are you shy around new people? Great! Now go say hello to that stranger. Your first attempt will be amateurish. Worse case scenario, you get laughed at or cast aside. You might want the ground to swallow you(sorry bud, it won’t!).
The good news is this– If you do this every day for months, having conversations with strangers will become second nature to you. So much so that you’ll forget it was ever a concern.
- Don’t overthink it.
The more you overthink the less you will understand — Habeeb Akande
Overthinking comes first, followed by anxiety, and finally fear– a vicious cycle. Nobody is born thinking too much. I suppose it’s one of the freebies provided by society. Questions like ‘what should I expect, and what should I do?’ continue to poop in your head without remorse.
It is not wrong to think deeply about anything. If anything, it’s required. Overthinkers, on the other hand, go beyond the point of thoroughly thinking.
They just stay in a loop. They become unable to act. In most cases, they create scenarios in their heads that do not exist, causing anxiety. Then comes the fear of acting.
Overthinkers are preoccupied with their problems rather than their solutions. They are preoccupied with the future and the past rather than the present.
If you find yourself overthinking, try concentrating on the present moment.
Consider the following: I overthought a lot in my backstory. A lot of questions played out in my head–What if I fail? What if I get the spelling wrong?
And yes, my pessimistic predictions came true. Don’t let this be you.
Fear doesn’t go away instantly. It requires great effort and intentionality to rid yourself of it. Hang in there. You’ll definitely overcome. If this isn’t enough motivation, I have something for you here. You got this!
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Thank you for reading. Till next time!😉