Is fear good or bad?
Let’s have some straight talk about fear first. Fear is one of the most powerful emotions we have. As an analogy, compare it to the old
childhood game, “king of the hill.” Fear bullies out rational logical thinking, peace, and inner calm, to occupy a prominent place in life. From there, it tries to powerfully maintain its position to keep rational thinking at bay.
Fear is a universal emotion that is experienced in every person, everywhere. That means we ALL are on the same playing field of feeling fear and figuring out ways to knock it off its lofty position as king of the hill.
Fear Can Help You
Don’t get me wrong. Fear has a use. It alerts us to danger. It is a
form of emotional communication that we need listen to. There
are countless examples of how fear helps us out. Fear of driving in
stormy weather, or walking a dark street at night, or financially
investing in something that is not proven to be sound, this fear can
save us. Fear can be a driver to adjust life to a better way. The
newly single woman afraid of not having enough money,
experiences fear that drives her to think deeply about all her
options. The fear of being alone can be a driver to focus on making new friends and feeding those precious relationships. Fear doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be information used to change life from going the wrong direction.
Try this incredibly smart question when a fear pops up in you, “what are you trying to alert me to?” Robin Stern, Phd, encourages us to “listen and be curious about what’s driving you to be afraid of something, rather than shutting down and ignoring it. You might see a new way to face those fears, or you might realize there’s less to be afraid of than you thought.”
Fear Can Hurt You
The other side of fear is how paralyzing it is. The fears we cannot
conquer become barriers to our happiness. This kind of fear can
lead to depression as we let it reign as king of the hill without being courageous enough to challenge it. The author, Karen Salmansohn, has a series of books that talk about facing fear and being happy. She says, “It’s time for you to recognize fear for who it truly is. It’s a freedom-thief, love-robber, insatiable-liar, peace-abductor, inner-warmonger.” Yes, fear has these traits.
Science says that 80% of what we fear does not happen. Think of all that wasted time we have robbed ourselves of. Plus, we missed out on opportunities somewhere along the line when we let fear dominate. Do we really have time to waste on something that cripples our actions and never happens?
Ideas on how to Handle Fears
1. When you are afraid, stop and think about what fear is trying
to tell you. Really spend time on this, don’t blow it off or feel
you can’t do anything about it. Fear may be trying to alert you
to watch out for that new person in your life, or to conquer the
old fears from past failures so you can live happily ever after
2. “Sometimes you need to talk about something-not to get
sympathy or help-but to kill its power by allowing the truth of
things to hit the air.” (K Salmansohn). Could it be that just bringing the fear into the open, helps it evaporate? Find someone who will listen. If you don’t have a friend that listens intently when you need them, then find and pay for a coach or therapist. This will be money well spent. They will help you challenge thoughts and fears to sort them out. The power those old fears have will weaken by
allowing them to “hit the air” with someone who can help.
3. Write the fear out, in painful detail. Now it’s out in the open,
and it doesn’t feel like its king of the hill, making choices for
you that you had no control over. This is “finding a way to
emotionally process your fears to keep going.”
4. Karen Salmansohn suggests, “people to hug or talk to, music,
hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favorite food. I’ve
found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of things that
makes me smile.” Sometimes making a list of things that bring
you joy is all you need. When wondering what to do when struck
by fear, try doing something on your previously made list. Get
your mind off the fear and on to something you love, even for a
5. If the fear is from a past event, please seek out help to conquer
your thinking in that area. By the time we reach 50 or 60, we
have lived through a lot and are wise. Some of the events hurt so
much, we never want to go through anything remotely like that
again. Yet, this is exactly what can keep us from finding friends,
taking a chance on new love, getting a better job, living alone
instead of living with the agony of a terrible marriage, or a
myriad of other things that has brought us to where we are today.
We are so much smarter than we were when those past events
happened. Let’s press on through the fear to allow possibilities,
giving the event a better chance to bring satisfaction and happiness.
These strategies can bring calm to your brain where rational and
logical thinking has a chance to help search for options and solutions. Courageously kick fear off as the king of the hill.
Give some thought to this quote by Steve Harvey:
“Fear don’t stop death. Fear stops life. Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. Worrying takes away today’s peace.”
Please contact me if you need help
conquering your fears. Let's work on