So why did I outgrow this fear? I guess because I developed my rational brain. I kept telling myself until I believed it, that there was a very slim chance a burglar was outside. I still locked the doors because that is just a sensible safety measure, but I no longer cowered in my bedroom. And I must admit, having a dog also helped!
Another fear I've had since childhood is a fear of meeting new people... looking back it was social anxiety. Extreme shyness and wondering what people were thinking of me, particularly before I'd had my final craniofacial surgery, plagued me. I think I had a pretty good reason to feel that way. The problem was that this fear had become so engrained that it didn't want to leave me, and through my adult life I have battled it. Even now, there are times when I find meeting new people hard. But as I age, I have become determined to overcome it. I want to be free to strike up a conversation with a stranger without a knot in my stomach. To do this, I've had to do some self-talk. I've had to tell myself that they are not judging me by how I look, just as I do not judge them on how they look. I have also taught myself some open questions that I can ask when having a conversation, to alleviate that awkward moment after saying hello. And I have the self-belief that I can do it.
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."
Having faith in God has also enabled me to face my fears. The knowledge that the God of the universe loves me and wants me to live a life without fear, and to live a life of inner peace, has helped me to overcome them. If God is for me and protecting me, why should I spend my life in fear?
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
Psalm 46: 1-2
Strategies for Overcoming Fear
- Acknowledge the fear. Whether it's imagined or real, the first step in overcoming fear is to admit that it exists. We all have fears; it's human nature. Denying or ignoring them doesn't make them go away.
- Analyze it. Where does it come from? Is it real or imagined? Can it be put in a different context? For instance, if you think it through to its logical conclusion, what's the worst that can happen to you? Once you've determined what that might be, ask yourself if you can deal with, or overcome it. More often than not, once you go through the process of analyzing it, the fear isn't as scary as you originally imagined.
- Face it. Allow yourself to feel it, and then do it anyway. Act in spite of your fear and treat is as a challenge for personal growth and an opportunity to become stronger.
- Be persistent. Do the thing you fear over and over again. By doing it repeatedly it loses its power over you and you become less vulnerable to it.
- Develop courage. Sometimes the answer may not be to conquer a particular fear; it may be to develop courage. If you focus too much on any one fear instead of trying to build courage, you may in fact, intensify it. By developing courage you build self-confidence and resilience. You also build a healthy approach towards facing all fear.
I wish for you to be free of your fears so you can live your life to the fullest and at peace.