Overcoming fear in 2 steps
Fear stops you from growing.
In the previous post, I presented why you should shift from a mindset dominated by fear into one where love is sovereign. Now I’ll tell you the 2 steps method I apply in my life to overcome that state of anxiety.
1. Acknowledge your fear
Fear keeps you safe, fear is natural. You should not be ashamed of being frightened. In order to do so, you have to acknowledge that state. This implies admitting that you are vulnerable and… it might mean that you should take off one of your masks and look at your true self in the mirror, not at the stoic you, or the invincible you … but at the authentic you, who has emotions and feels.
“It’s not such a big deal…” when I hear people saying that as an advice it really drives me crazy. Sure, for you it might not be such a big deal taking the elevator but for me, it might be a life-threatening situation. The fact is that I would like people to know that even if we see danger in different things the feeling is the same. When you are with someone that is worried about something, acknowledge his point of view and work from that place towards a resolution.
2.Take action. Expose yourself sequentially to what frightens you.
You don’t have to be fearless, you have to be courageous. People that say they are not afraid of anything are either liers or psychopaths. Keep away from those.
Life is full of danger, it is amazing how we manage to get on with our daily lives when we are conscious of the fact that we can die at any given moment. Life is full of unpredicted and we as a species hate chaos. I see humans as being very brave creatures having that in mind.
When we are afraid we get paralyzed. It one of the many survival mechanisms we developed in our evolution. First, don’t move, don’t make a sound, maybe the tiger won’t see you, then decide fight or fly. On the long term when dealing with our modern anxieties I think is better to fight (I have no idea what you should do with the tiger, pray would be an alternative when desperate seek divine help and maybe a revolver will be sent from the heavens). Baby steps, try to get near the source of danger if nothing happens to proceed forward.
When I was little (6 or something) we went to a resort in the mountains. My parents would often ask me to go and bring them things from the room. I couldn’t say no, otherwise I would be grounded. In order to get fast to our room I had to take the elevator because we were having an apartment at one of the last floors. I got stuck in the elevator numerous times. I was too little and the elevator systems didn’t know there was someone inside so it would block or go on randomly with me inside.
First times I had panic attacks, then I kind of get used to it, like you can get used to anxiety. I imagined countless ways to die in an elevator and also some scenarios in which I could escape. I don’t have to mention that due to this I got scared of confined spaces.
If as a child I would cry or told my parents I was afraid or in pain they would use one of my favorite quote of all times “why you cry? you have no reasons to cry! I’ll give you reasons to cry…” — parenting skills level 999.
Long story short, I was an 18 years old “grownup” afraid of elevators. When I got to university I was forced to use them otherwise I would be late for my courses. I had to go from the 5th floor of building A to the 6th floor of building B, in less than 10 minutes, and to get from building A to B I had to walk 5 minutes.
I started with baby steps, I wasn’t afraid to be near elevators, so I was a few steps ahead of your average Joe terrified by escalators. I start using lifts with my colleagues and after a year of doing so almost daily, I growth enough courage to ride them on my own. For many, it might not be a big deal but for me, it was a personal achievement. Those were old machines so they would often get stuck between floors or the lights would not work but by exposing myself to those terrifying situations gradually I didn’t panic in those situations. Maybe I was also too tired after studying all night and didn’t have the energy to spare for freaking out.
What is your biggest fear and what would it take for you to be more courageous and confront it?