Someone once told me to face my fears or eventually they will consume me. That’s how fear works. The more we hide from them or avoid them or run away from them, the larger and more frightening they will become. But when we do the opposite by facing them head on, they eventually will start to lose their power. It’s a little trick I’ve come to learn over the past few months.
When I was struggling with my mental state, I had a ton of fears consuming my being. From more genuine fears of losing my mind to more irrational fears like being afraid of eating hard to chew foods or leave the soap in my hair for too long. Yes. Embarrassing to say those things out loud but when your mind is under a severe amount of stress it begins to not think rationally. Your brain will set off alarms for everything, and I really mean everything. From real danger to perceived and made up danger. One minute you will be ok and the next minute your heart will be racing 200mph and you will feel like you are running from everything. Anxiety and panic are no joke. I know a lot of normal folk don’t seem to understand it and tell us “weird” folk to just let it pass or that we are ok, but in reality, our minds can’t tell that difference. In our minds, we are in danger, so our bodies will act as we are and try to fight or flee from it.
It took a lot of patience, a lot of effort, and a lot of determination for me to slowly get past most of my fears. Of course, there are still days when I do struggle, but I’ve accepted that not everyday will be perfect, but it doesn’t mean that tomorrow doesn’t have a chance at being ok.
I feel that there are a few key points to conquering fears from what I’ve learned throughout my journey. I will share them with you so that you will also be encouraged to break free of the prison your mind has created and start to enjoy life again.
The Self Love Daily Challenge #027: Face your fears!
1. Accept the fear.
Don’t try to deny that you are afraid. The more you resist the fear and try to hide it or run away from it, the more it will grow it’s power over you. Accept that it’s ok that you have this fear and that with time you will move past it. Most importantly, love yourself enough not to shame yourself into feeling bad about struggling with this fear.
2. Figure out why.
Sometimes we have fears and we’re not really sure of why we have them in the first place. Sometimes digging deep into the reasons of why we have these fears can help us find ways to conquer them by disqualifying their scariness factor. Ask yourself questions. When did you first start feeling this fear? Was it because of a certain event in your life? Try to counter your fear by finding reasons of why it may be something irrational or not as frightening as you perceive it to be.
3. Make a plan and start small.
Start writing down ways you can begin to conquer your fear. Always begin small. Exposing yourself little by little so that you do not overwhelm yourself too quickly and end up reinforcing your fear instead. Take baby steps. For example, if you are afraid of dogs, maybe start out slow by thinking about a dog visually, and then looking at some photos of dogs, and then being near some behind a cage, then possibly going to the park where dogs are present, then lastly exposing yourself to a physical dog up close. Baby steps are key to conquering fears otherwise if we move too fast we can end up making the fear much greater with a bad experience.
4. Do it afraid.
If you wait for the perfect moment or when you feel like you have enough courage, you are always going to be waiting and never actually take action towards facing the fear. So after completing the first three steps, start with your action and do it afraid. It may be frightening at first and evoke panic, but that is the point. You have to sit with the fear. Feel the fear and let it pass. It will pass. I promise. But you have to believe that it will. Believe that it has no real power except the power you give it. If you do things afraid, you will eventually become un-afraid with time. The hardest step is always the first, but once you’re in it, you will see that your fear really is not as giant of a monster as you perceive.
Once we begin conquering our fears, we will begin to live more boldly and confidently. We will have more freedom to take risks and do things for ourselves we couldn’t do otherwise because of our fears. We will love ourselves more wholly. One of the keys to practicing self love is conquering what makes us afraid because love casts out fear.