Image by By hotblack; sourced from http://www.morguefile.com/
Fear is often defined as a feeling of impending trouble or danger. We all have fears. It’s part of our human condition. Whether we are afraid of heights or spiders, failure or public speaking, the key thing to remember is that fear is just a feeling, an emotional affect.
That is to dismiss neither our fears nor our feelings; both are equally important aspects of our everyday lives. In fact, it is believed that we come into the world with two innate fears – the fear of falling and the fear evoked by loud noises. Hence the reason babies will cry when met with a bang or often flail their arms and legs during bath time in their very first months of life.
Image by biberta; sourced from http://www.morguefile.com/
From this we can learn that while some fears are instinctive and exist to keep us safe, other fears are acquired. We learn to fear things through our own life encounters and by watching other people respond to their experiences. If we perceive somebody recoil in horror at the sight of a 1980s-style mullet, we may very well develop an aversion to the hideous hairstyle as well.
Jokes aside, some fears can be disabling. I recently heard of a man - a friend of a friend of a friend - who has become so afraid of what may happen to him in the near and distant future that he has well and truly locked himself away from the world. What a miss-take!
In truth, fears that have the capacity to disable us are often irrational. We must given them due recognition and attention if and when they arise, but we must also recognise that to become so fixated on them that we lose sight of the present, is limiting, and it prevents us from being the very best version of ourselves.
My own deep-seated fears have often come between the person I am and the person I want to be.
Image by kburggraf1; sourced via http://www.morguefile.com/
We have often heard the saying, “We cannot control our circumstances, but we can control our response to them”. The same idea applies to our fears.
Though we cannot avoid the presentation we have to give at work on Monday nor the spider that’s camped in the corner of our bedroom, we can acknowledge the way each of those makes us feel, and then harness those emotions and put them to better use.
Don’t envision yourself standing before your colleagues and choking on your words. Instead, use that wretched fear to fuel your practice and preparation, and visualise your manager so impressed they offer to buy you lunch. Don’t envision the spider crawling up your arm. Instead, harness that disgust to smack the spider down, or somehow fling it outside.
Image by where_ever_i_am; sourced from http://www.morguefile.com/
Identify your fear;
Remember that it’s just a feeling; an irrational affect learned probably when you were a child;
Acknowledge that while you cannot control your circumstances, you can control your response to them;
Transform your fear into positive action;
Envision the best possible scenario; and
Be the best version of yourself you can be.
If all else fails, seek out help. You’re not alone.