We all have a degree of fear. To some, it’s an annoyance that requires a slight lifestyle adjustment now and then. However many people feel absolutely paralyzed by certain fears. There are some people who cannot leave their home. Fear ranges from “I can’t drive across the bridge,” “I need to go to the ER again, I think I’m dying this time,” to “Yikes there’s a spider!”
Maybe we fear failure, rejection or death. Perhaps our fears are to disease, germs, or blood. Everybody experiences fear at one point in their life.
Research shows that we need to face our fears!
I vividly remember as a young girl having nightmares of snakes being all around me. Over the years I have struggled with camping, hiking and even walking in my yard with bare feet. You may not enjoy those things, but I do, and I have found myself doing them less and less because I have allowed my fear of snakes to grow and manifest itself adding restrictions to my life.
Dr. Jordan B Peterson, professor, a clinical psychologist and author of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos states you do not deal with fear by making your environment safer. Protecting yourself from an irrational fear, only gives it room to grow, while you become more vulnerable.
A simple fear of meeting new people can lead to a life of captivity inside a home, or it can be addressed by breaking the fear into digestible tasks ultimately offering freedoms and opportunities for great relationships. Peterson shares examples of how breaking fears into bits and addressing the smaller pieces keeps the terrifying act of facing fear, from being overwhelming. For example, to one who is scared to meet new people, perhaps one can start by practicing shaking hands. Once that is mastered, and confidence has begun to grow the person can begin to add another goal and tackle the fear piece by piece.
“Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”: FDR’s First Inaugural Address
Practically speaking I have decided I am going to intentionally come into contact with snakes. Maybe it will be at the aquarium, but eventually, it might include camping, sometime other than the dead of winter, when I know those little slimy things are all tucked in tight somewhere and won’t cross my path.
It has been proven that avoidance fuels fear. It decreases our feelings of confidence. According to Psychology Today, “Exposure to the fear is most the potent medicine known to psychology.”
Although exposure is not natural. You cannot manipulate your world from your fear by protecting yourself. What I have discovered is it is critical for all of us to accept that our comfort zone is not really a safe place, if we cannot stand up to those things we fear outside of that space.
I have been reading It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn. This book is giving me pause for thought as to why some of us have irrational fears that we really do not understand the origin of. Wolynn highlights the latest scientific research, supporting what many have long believed: that traumatic experience can be passed down through generations. This is a fascinating read in understanding how knowledge is stored and transferred in our DNA.
I do not have a lot of fear in my life. In fact, when asked about the fear of my cancer diagnosis can honestly say there was not any. If you have read my book Soul Work for Cancer: Living a Life Interrupted by Cancer, you are able to tell that as you join me on my journey of diagnosis and ultimate healing of stage 3 rectal cancer. I used to live a life of bondage to fears. I would hear news stories and be convinced whatever happened to someone else could and probably would happen to me. Instead, however, God replaced my panic with His presence and the peace which passes all understanding. The peace has come from some 21-years of dedicating my life to Christ and having Him prove to me over and over that when He says fear not, it a waste of my life to disregard His powerful commands.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
God has reasons for telling us not to fear. Fear can be very debilitating and can affect, among many things: our health, sleep, and ability to concentrate which can wreak havoc in all areas of our life.
Sensations of fear show up intense or weak muscles, no appetite, a racing heart, sweats, loose bowels, dizziness, physical paralysis, and a dry mouth. It can cause us to turn to substance abuse, harming ourselves physically and of course depression.
There are lots of tools for overcoming fear, here are a few.
- be aware of your fears and be specific as to what it is you are afraid of
- get curious about what thoughts generate your fear
- try Therapy
- work with a Coach (I’m a great choice)
- Prayer/Bible Reading: my go to when I face fear is Psalm 91
And when I am scared of someone who has gotten away with hurting me:
I found some great ideas at Wakeupcloud.com
Join me as we face something scary every day and watch our confidence rise and our fears diminish.
I am a life coach if you are looking for accountability or someone to come alongside you in an area of growth please reach out to me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to ask me how I am doing with my fear of snakes. I always love to hear from you, please let me know how this touched you.