Fear is one of the most powerful human emotions we can endure. It's consuming nature can overwhelm our thoughts, dominate our emotions and negatively influence our behavior. It is a mysteriously dark force that can quietly creep into your life and take hostage everything that you hold dear.
The war against fear is ultimately unending however, you can emerge victorious in the battles you face more often than you think. The key to managing fear is relinquishing the power that it has over you. The first step to doing that is understanding your fear for what it is.
I've let fear consume me on countless occasions and the aftermath of that has been completely detrimental to my life. When living in a state of constant fear, whether that's fear of loss, fear of loneliness, fear of pain or fear of anything really, all positivity is slowly choked out of your life. Left unchecked, fear begins to foster desperation and then we try and cope by any means necessary. Our methods of coping can often be unhealthy and without even realizing it, we've fanned the flames of fear into a raging fire.
On countless occasions, I've drunk myself into oblivion, struggled with substance abuse and even self-harmed because I was afraid of what was happening and what would happen. These coping methods in turn just recycled more negativity and more dread back into my life. It wasn't until I stepped outside of myself and looked at the situation rationally and objectively that I realized two things:
- I was the only person experiencing this fear and I was the only person that could stop it.
- By living in constant fear I was unintentionally sculpting the very reality I was afraid of.
Like everyone else, I was experiencing life in my own way. No other person is thinking, feeling and processing things in the same way I am. Whatever I believe to be true is in essence, truth for me. If I believe my world is ending, then it is. If I believe I am capable or incapable of something, then I am. It was upon realizing this that I understood I had more power than I thought over not just fear, but many other aspects of my life as well.
The more I pondered the nature of fear and tried to dissect it for what it was, the more I came to understand that this force did not have to dominate my life and with this knowledge, I could eliminate the control it was having over me.
The tricky thing with fear is that we feed it the more we give in to it. The more we dwell on it, the more consuming it becomes. Perhaps the most notable quality of fear and the first step to overcoming it is understanding that fear is simply an illusion.
Everything that I had ever been afraid of was something that had yet to happen. Even if something bad had happened to me in the past, I wasn't afraid of what happened before, I was afraid that it would happen again. Fear is a lie. Fear is the concept of being overwhelmed by the thought and subsequently the feeling, of something you don't want happening to you or someone else.
Here's the good news: what you're afraid of hasn't happened yet.
It ultimately may not even happen at all. This thought can be your strength in your times of fear. We do not know what will happen next, however, it is clear that by living in fear, we live as if the worst has already happened. That can be far more destructive to our lives than what we were afraid of in the first place.
In times of fear, we must learn to shift our focus to hope. We have to dwell on what we want to happen and not on what we don't want to happen. Fear has as much power as we give it. When we can truly understand that and shift our thoughts and focus away from fear, we begin to find freedom from it. When we're not living in fear, we're living in the here and now and working towards our better tomorrow. When our focus is on hope and not fear, we stop acting out of fear and therefore stop suffering the consequences of fear.
We should not underestimate how powerful the force of fear can be in our lives but more importantly, we must remember that we control how much authority we give it. Surrender your fear to hope and give your focus to what you love. When you can do this, you can live without the grip of fear on your life and instead in freedom.