I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately. About how we are all afraid of certain things and what determines what those things are. I am afraid of a lot of things and I always wonder why. What determines what I am afraid of and how do I let these fears go?
A while ago I wrote about fear of failure and how to deal with this. It’s not surprising that we are scared of failing – because it is one of two possible outcomes when you take a risk. You either succeed or you fail, it’s as simple as that. But fear comes in many shapes and sizes and is a very personal emotion. I can be afraid of the stupidest things and have no idea why. For instance, I used to be terrified of driving and I literally thought I would never get my driver’s license. After passing the test it still took me years to drive somewhere without trembling hands. And the fact that other people seem to have no problem with driving makes it much harder to accept and understand.
Follow your fear
Here’s what I find so interesting. Like it or not, fear draws you to something. Just like love and hate are so intertwined, so are fear and excitement (or passion). There are things we’re afraid of doing, but these things often spark our interest or curiosity in some way. Just like you don’t hate people you don’t care about, you don’t fear something you’re not interested in. I am terrified of childbirth, but at the same time I’m so intrigued by it and I really hope to experience it one day.
Like I said, fear comes in many shapes and sizes. Being afraid of a spider is very different from being scared to drive, to get into a new relationship, to get sick or lose someone you love. When I think about my biggest fears, I realize there’s often an attraction there as well. According to the law of attraction, like attracts like, which is why you supposedly attract what you think about most. So if you spend most of your days feeling afraid of something, this will likely turn up in your life.
Whether you agree with this or not, I do find this concept incredibly interesting. We as humans are designed to problem-solve, which is why many of us don’t do so well with ‘smooth sailing’. To some extent we all feel we need a certain amount of ‘drama’ in our lives; problems we can solve, and that’s just part of being human. Of course, this is different for all of us – some people attract more drama than others – but I do believe human beings are problem solvers. Why be alive at all if nothing ever happens? What would you learn?
Why are we afraid?
Back to fear. If we accept that in our fears lies more information than just something we should avoid, this makes the concept much more intriguing. Just think about what you’re afraid of – and try to think why. What is it that draws you to this? If you fear you might lose your job –why do you fear this? Maybe, on some level, you want to quit your job. Or maybe you are interested to see if you could survive getting fired. It’s a possibility.
This whole theory definitely applies to me. For me, fear is in taking risks, in change and in things I can’t control. Yet somehow, I am drawn to these things. Of course, it’s not always good. I lost my father at a young age, so I am often illogically afraid of losing people I love. That doesn’t mean I secretly want to lose them. It’s just that I’ve come so close to such a strong sense of sorrow and know the feeling so well, that I often feel drawn to it. Once you’re introduced to such pain it’s very hard to let it go. Pain is as much a part of life as love and joy.
You own your fears
If you know and believe that your fears are your own creation, made up by your own thoughts which draw you in a certain direction, that means that you can change these fears. This is such a powerful thought. If all your fears come from within you – then you should be able to change them. This might take time and effort, but it’s absolutely possible. Step 1 is realizing that you’ve created your fears, step 2 is finding out where they come from. Once you find the root of your fears – which lie in your beliefs – then you can start to overcome them.
“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood”
– Marie Curie
Think about it – what is your deepest fear? Where does it come from? Why are you attracted to these emotions? Is there a hidden message in there somewhere? Is there something you want but are afraid to admit to yourself? Fear is the key to getting to know yourself, your beliefs and what you really want. Embrace your fear – it is a source of information. The best thing you can do is face your fears – head on and with a straight face. This isn’t easy and requires a lot of emotional vulnerability. But there is nothing more powerful than overcoming your fears and realizing they don’t own you. You own them. They are your creation.
Most of us view ‘fear’ as something negative and something we need to avoid, but fears are just as much a part of us as passion or excitement. In fact, often we fear the things we want the most. Find what scares you, name it and conquer it. Not only will it make you stronger, it will make you wiser, and the next time you’re afraid of something, you’ll recognize it and know how to deal with it. Always do what you are afraid to do – you never know where it might take you.