I love to take evening walks. They relax me. I love the feel of natural air upon my face. I love the freedom of just walking without any particular destination in mind. Plus, I get to exercise my tired muscles. But, for a long time, there was a part of my neighborhood that I never ventured close to, at night. It was always pitch dark. And I don't do dark alleys. So, that section of town became a no-go area for me.
But, one day, I decided to pass through this neighborhood at night. I wanted a change of path. So, I ventured into the pitch darkness, one step after the other. I eventually found myself in the middle of it, alone. But, I kept going. The first day. The second. The third. And now several days and weeks after, I can comfortably venture into this pitch darkness without a fearful thought. In other words, I have mastered my fear of that neighborhood.
Now, as I sat to write this post, I realised it's the same with us. Most times, we fear certain things and it prevents us from doing some of the things we love. We call them phobias but some of these fears are simply irrational. Yet we allow them to keep us in prison. And, rob us of some of the vital blessings of life and daily living. Because we tend not to venture out when we're afraid. And, we all know that nothing ventured, nothing gained.
But, I've realised from that evening walk episode I relayed above that the only way to overcome fear is to go through it. To confront it. To face it headlong. To experience it.
I once had the fear of public speaking. I almost wanted to call my first speaking gig off. Butterflies were rumbling in my tummy and I seriously felt uneasy. But, I went ahead with the talk and it was well-received. Over time, I've spoken in several places and now, I can say I'm comfortable with public speaking. But, I won't be saying this if I had avoided speaking in the first place.
Fear is such a powerful emotion. Figures by Statistic Brain indicates that 6.3 million Americans have a diagnosed phobia. A phobia is an intense fear of something. Most times, the fear has no reason or cannot be explained.
Breakdown of the data shows that the percent of things feared that will never occur is 60 percent while the percent of things feared that took place in the past and can't be changed is 30 percent. In the same vein, the percent of things feared that are considered unimportant is 90 percent while the percent of things feared as regards health that will not take place is 88 percent.
The statistics further showed different types of phobia with the fear of public speaking leading the pack with 74 percent. Wow! This just means that people are frightened of speaking in public more then they are afraid to die. Fear of death is in second position with 68 percent. The list continues with the fear of spiders, fear of darkness, fear of heights, fear of people, and so many others.
Now, it is said that healthy amount of fear is normal for us as human beings. But, a situation in which fear dominates our lives and prevents us from attaining our life goals leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
So, how we you overcome fear?
Step No 1: The best way to overcome fear is to do that thing you're afraid of. If you're afraid of public speaking, start speaking with small groups, you'll eventually graduate to larger groups. If you're afraid of exercise, start a simple exercise regimen. Maybe walk 15 minutes a day. Eventually, your body will yearn for more and you can move to more rigorous exercises.
So, start doing that very thing which you fear. But, this does not mean exposing yourself to unnecessary risk. For instance, if you fear a lion, there's no sense in exposing yourself to a lion, live and direct. Let common sense prevail. You can see a lion in a zoo where people are adequately protected from it, but, in a live situation, I think that's an overkill.
Joyce Meyer sums this up perfectly in her book, Living Courageously. According to her, “The only way to conquer fear is to confront it and to do the thing you're afraid of. Let me add that it should be something that actually needs to be done. If you're afraid of flying and you never need to fly anywhere, then just forget it. But if your fear of flying is adversely affecting your life, do it afraid and get beyond it.”
She continues, “If you're afraid of pigs, then just don't go in a pigpen, but if you're afraid of open spaces, you will need to go out...even if you have to do it afraid. If you don't, you will be a prisoner all of your life. When we do confront things, we always find that the worst part of the fear was in our minds, and that the reality of the thing wasn't as bad as we had imagined.” Okay, so, that's step 1. Confront the fear. Face it with courage. Do battle with it.
Step No 2: The next step is to repeat the confrontation. Don't just do it for a day and stop. No. You want to condition your mind to accept a new normal so, you have to keep repeating it until it becomes effortless, until it becomes second nature. If you want to overcome the fear of public speaking, this means you'll have to speak, whether free or paid, until it becomes second nature to you.
Step No 3: Enlist the support of faith. This is the third step. It's been said several times over that faith is the solution to fear. But, have you ever enlisted this powerful resource? It pays to do. Because the solution to your fears is in your faith.
This reminds me of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s quote: “faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.”
In other words, step out. You may be full of uncertainty, still step out. You may be confused about a 1001 things, still step out. You may not know how your new business is going to work, still start it. You may not know how your new marriage is going to be, still work at it. In full faith, trusting the Universe to deliver after you've done your part.
Now that you know, which of these steps are you going to start with? Remember, the solution to your fear is just a firm decision to live fearlessly. And, YOU can do it!
Remember, you've got to face your fears in order to live a full life. If you refuse to, you sign yourself up for a mediocre existence. I'm sure you don't want that. That's why you're reading this. Enough of the reading though. It's time for action!