FEAR… everyone experiences fear whether they care to admit it or not. You know the feeling, doom and gloom on the horizon, the dreaded feeling of terror.
I remember an incident as a young teenager walking home around midnight with my girlfriends after a Friday night dance at the local high school. My instincts were screaming at me that night. A man in a car seemed to be stalking us. He looked scary with thick rimmed glasses and a glare of desire in his eyes. He repeatedly drove past us, slowing the car down to crawl as my friends laughed at him. Peer pressure was in full bloom that night. I was extremely frightened but held my instincts to myself lest they ridicule me. When the time came for me to continue my walk alone I panicked. Fortunately, the man was nowhere to be found by the time I became vulnerable to a possible abduction. I felt the fear and ran home as fast as possible until I entered the back door of my home feeling safe.
This experience is a clear example of a very healthy fear. In my opinion, we were all in real danger that Friday night.
Everyone gathers unhealthy fears in their life. As an innocent, young child I quickly gained a fear of furnaces in basements after a girlfriend made a scary story of a monster living in a furnace. This monster came out of the furnace at night to kill people in the neighborhood. Children have such wild imaginations. This story seems so silly to adults but to me as a child it was horrifying. It took me until my adult life to realize the fear had no substance.
Our fears tend to control our actions. As a child I would never step foot near a furnace and after a few years this became a habit. In fact, the memory of this story surfaced over twenty years later in my life. While doing the chore of laundry I found myself constantly watching over my back only to realize it was the furnace making me nervous. It was only when the memory bounced into my mind I was able to realistically see the childish fear and remove it from my life.
The only way to live a happy, fulfilling life is to stand up to your unhealthy fears. Fear is a like a bully, when challenged it disappears like a coward. Fear can only have substance in your life if you let it. A few years back I learned that unhealthy fear is “Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real”. It will control you if you do not control it.
To quote Eleanor Roosevelt, “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”
Here are some helpful tips on learning to face your unhealthy fear:
(1) Write out a list of your fears.
(2) Categorize those fears as “healthy” or “unhealthy”.
(3) Organize your unhealthy fears from “smallest” to “largest”.
(4) Make a commitment to do something to face your smallest fear and put a time frame on it. (one day, one week, one month)
(5) Continue facing your unhealthy fears one a time.
The only way to rid yourself of a fear is to face it head on. The more you face fear, the easier it gets. Find the courage to face your bully and see how fast it runs in the other direction!
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