I’d always been a frightened child. I didn’t realise how crippling my fear was until it reached out of my childhood of vivid and desperate overthinking to begin ruling my adult life.
In an attempt to make sense of a world they’d been pulled into, I assumed all children shared similar spiralling thoughts – they didn’t and my hypersensitive responses weren’t typical.
How do you come to terms with suffered so long with something that, at the time, you didn’t know existed?
In short: Fear had been, and is, the most consistent relationship of my life thus far.
It would tap me on the back during school exams, disable sleep before important interviews and help deduce people’s thoughts of me as a reminder to fear life’s uncertainties.
Fear is a young boy waiting at the window for his mom to come home, terrified she’d been in a fatal car crash should she be any amount of minutes late – I’ve been waiting my whole life.
When my mental health fell into a canyon in my mid-20s, I felt fear more intensely than I’d ever known possible. It broke me down, right to the rock of rock bottom.
‘The cage of fear is always unlocked…’
Everything fell away – my happiness – but also a lot of inward negative thought patterns.
In a trial by fire, I was laid bare and exposed to years of built up pain – which I can only describe as a salvation.
I realised fear isn’t me; it’s a constant, yet pliable, frenemy.
Fear, like anxiety and panic, is a natural human response. It’s as easy to remove yourself from as the uncertainties of life. But, I was ready to take a step back from my window.
When you’re nose is squashed against the glass, you can’t realise full perspective.
I still feel fear intensely at times, and probably more often than some, being diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder, but I’ve learned to accept it, work with it, and do it all anyway.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned about the reality of fear:
- Overthinking is the vision of the worst case scenario, the most unlikely outcome
- Fear is never a singular notion, it’s created by many but presented as one
- The arrival of fear is a challenge to take the opportunity for growth
- The mind can’t comprehend or process the future because it doesn’t exist, it uses fear in an attempt to prepare and protect you
- The future is coming, whether you’re afraid or not
- Don’t be ashamed of what keeps you alive, fear is the blinking of the mind
- One of the bravest and fulfilling acts of humanity is to embrace one’s fears
- The cage of fear is always unlocked; endless possibilities await in reach
- Exposure to fear reduces its toxicity, choose it
- Like anything new in life, fear is uncomfortable – but with time, practice and exposure we can learn to master it
- Letting fear stand in front of you is like letting an obnoxious colleague take the credit
- Fear doesn’t always mean terror, it can be as mundane as giving yourself 45 minutes for a 20 minute bus journey or being scared of being late for a meeting. Recognise your unconscious fear processes on every level, so you can consciously address them at their core and lessen the load
- Overthinking can be a talent, you might make a great party planner – or just a friend who’s always on time and judges latecomers
- Take comfort in knowing it won’t be or go as badly as you predict
- Don’t let fear make you question fact; that’s when trouble begins
- Fear can absolutely become you and get out of control; find help to land the plane
- Sit with you fear for a few moments, so you can assess an appropriate reaction
- If you need to react to fear in a way that’s deconstructive, or you can’t control your response for whatever reason, do so. Fighting a fear makes it worse, but think about and practice a preferable response for next time
- When experiencing intense emotion, fear, thoughts are distorted and don’t represent the situation. That’s frightening in itself, but will pass
- The whirlwind of fear happens inside you, while you stand in the same spot
- Don’t punish yourself for being afraid, the world and life can be terrifying.
- You can never conquer fear itself, and while it doesn’t get easier its effect can lessen
Fear takes any and every form, and our minds have a way of making every challenge seem brand new – but break it down and see the familiarity at its core
- It’s your perception of fear which makes it a reality or not
- Fear is an appropriate and justified response to panel interviews or public speaking, especially when asked: ‘Tell us why you’re here…’ or ‘Why are you right for this job?’
- If you’re biggest fear is that fear will hold you back, you know what to do…
- Trying something, and failing, doesn’t make failure a part of you – but fear of it can
- Intense blasts of anger or over reactions usually have fear at their source
- Jealousy also has fear at its core, overcoming fear means overcoming insecurity
- Anxiety is the gap between the known and the unknown – that fear lessens as you bridge the two together
- Finally, all of your emotions – including fear – operate within you. Realise the strength you have over adversity
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