Just as it is important to recognize when you are living in fear, like we examined last week, it is equally important to deal with that fear. It is never enough just to know about something, you ought to know what to do with it.
Fear paralyzes even the best of us. It renders us useless in areas of our lives where even onlookers expect more from us. The best and worst part of dealing with fear is that we realize we could have overcome whatever it was all along. So, at the same time, we come out of it angry with ourselves for having wasted so much time, and happy with ourselves for having finally stepped up.
The obstacle between who we are now and who we ought to be is usually fear. Fear keeps us in one spot, limiting our growth. So we ought to deal with it. We ought to overcome it. We ought to become who we ought to be, and one of these five ways of dealing with fear might just be what you need today to help you move on to your next phase of life.
Think it All the Way through
Last week, a reader responded to the article on the signs that you are living in fear by articulating the fear she lives with – fear of the unknown. She’s scared that her husband may not get a better job; scared she may not be able to change jobs herself; scared she may never get to run her own business; scared she won’t live her best life. My response to her was for her to think it all the way through. What if you actually don’t get to do all those things? What will happen? Can you deal with whatever happens?
When we have fears and worries about the future, one thing we could do is to ask ourselves what the result would be if those things did happen. Could we handle it? You’re afraid your loved one will die. What if they did die? What would happen? Can you handle it? The answer usually is that you can handle it. You can handle the loss. You can handle your life not turning out the way you hoped it would. Why then are you afraid? Because you still view it as this mysterious unknown, lurking in the shadows of your life.
Pretend for a moment that the ‘unknown’ has become a certainty, and realize that you can indeed handle it. That way, you’ll give it a face, give it a name and strip it of the mysterious power it has had over you all this while. You’ll be shining a light into the shadows, exposing the fear for what it really is – just false evidence appearing real.
Realize that You Can’t Think Two Things at the Same Time
It’s not possible for your brain to do that, no matter how smart or multitasking you are. It means you can either be thinking faith or thinking fear, when faced with a seemingly threatening situation or daunting task.
It’s your choice. You have control over your thoughts. If at a moment you’re thinking you can do it, it means that at that same moment you certainly are not thinking you can’t do it. You can’t be thinking two things at the same time. And remember, whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right. Your outcome will be either positive or negative based on your thoughts, based on faith or fear.
So when you catch yourself thinking fear, replace that thought with faith. When you catch yourself in doubt, saying you can’t, say that you can instead. And keep saying it, keep thinking positive, keep thinking faith. That way, you will leave no room for your brain to think negative fearful thoughts, no room for your mouth to speak limiting fearful words, and no room at all for you to live in fear.
Have Faith in God
You can believe in yourself. You can say “I can.” You can push yourself to overcome your fears. You can rely on your strength. You can do all that. But that isn’t always enough. You are limited. You can come to the end of yourself. And you often do.
We all need something bigger than ourselves to rely on, to push us through and beyond where our limited selves can. We need God’s strength to overcome fear. Instead of simply saying “I can,” how does “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” sound? He’s given us the spirit of power to combat the spirit of fear and all we have to do is rely on Him, have faith in Him and He’ll power us through!
To achieve this, though, we have to be willing to surrender. There’s no point in saying “God take control” if we’re not willing to relinquish it. There’s no point in posting “Jesus take the wheel” if we’re still firmly seated in the driver’s seat. The ultimate solution to overcoming fear is completely following God’s word, which means completely following God Himself. He is perfect and He is love. And perfect love eliminates fear.
I’m sure you know that having faith in God does not mean having no plans at all. Relinquishing control to Him means giving Him your plans; committing them into His hands so that they can be established – according to His will, of course.
So we have to plan. It’s not enough to just have faith. Fear of failure can be dealt with by actually having a plan. If you fail to plan, you actually plan to fail. If you fail to plan your finances – like having a budget and sticking to it, staying out of consumer debt, making wise investments – and you’re afraid of becoming poor, you ought to be afraid alright. Afraid enough to course-correct and start making wise decisions. When you have a study plan in school, you eliminate some of the fear of failing exams. When you plan out your daily schedule, you eliminate some of the fear of ‘the unknown’ jumping out at you. When you plan out your finances, you eliminate some of the fear (and risk) of running out of money.
To fail to plan is to plan to fail. And if you are afraid of failure without having planned out your life, then you better be very afraid.
Just Do it
Eventually, you’re just going to have to face your fears if you’re to overcome them. You just have to go ahead and do those things that you’re too scared to do. Action is another great antidote to fear. Fear seeks to paralyze you while action seeks to empower you. Action leads feelings, and once you finally do something you’ve been scared of doing – and keep doing it – you’ll find that you no longer feel afraid of it and that you may actually enjoy doing it.
This happens to sales people, when the fear of rejection paralyzes them from going out there and talking to strangers. Those who eventually force themselves out there and talk to people, and maybe even get some rejections, eventually start feeling good about themselves and positive about their ability to go out there and make it happen.
Live your worst nightmare. What are you afraid of doing? Is it public speaking, saving money, driving, talking to strangers, asking a girl out, leaving a toxic relationship? Just do it! You might even have to switch off your brain at this point, especially when it’s difficult for you to successfully replace the negative thoughts with positive ones, else you may be crippled by analysis-paralysis as your brain convinces you that it’s not worth the try.
We all deal with fear and we all have to overcome it in order to become our better selves. We can do so by having faith and trusting in God, planning ahead, taking hold of our thoughts and sometimes doing away with them entirely as we face our fears head on.
So here’s hoping that you’re now more equipped to deal with your fears. I ask that you share more thoughts or methods you may have to further deal with them, and wish you a very courageous week ahead!