Overcome Your Fears

Written by Claire Colvin

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Related: Hazelle’s Story of Facing Anxiety

Fear keeps us in the background. It convinces us we can never accomplish our dreams, tells us to keep quiet, and separates us from the ones we love. Fear has an unparalleled ability to freeze us in our tracks, and limit what we are willing to try. Fear makes us lead a smaller life.

The things that we are afraid of may be different, but our reactions to fear are usually the same – our palms sweat, our mouths get dry, our stomachs churn — and we would do anything, make any sacrifice, just to make it go away. How many times have you turned away from an opportunity or even a relationship because you were too afraid to go for it?

Fear is not a bad thing. It exists for our protection as an early warning signal. But there is a big difference between the healthy fear that tells us to step away from the edge of a cliff and a constant fear that keeps us from living our life. Dr. Henry Cloud, counselor and author, in his article “Overcoming Fear,” recommends several active steps we can take to battle the fear that controls us – connecting with others, creating structure, learning relaxation techniques and developing a spiritual life and face your fears. Fortunately for us, there are practical ways to take the doctor’s advice.

  1. Connecting with others. All fears, no matter how big or small are worse when we face them alone. Find a good friend to share your fears with. We tend to resist admitting our fears because we are afraid that the person will think less of us, that they will laugh or make things worse. Find someone you can trust, possibly a counselor, maybe a relative or trusted friend and share what’s bothering you. They may be able to help you see what you’re afraid of in a new light and they will be there to stand by you and encourage you as you take steps to face your fears.
  2. Create structure. If it’s a new situation that is causing your worries, Dr. Cloud recommends building structure into your schedule to create safety. If you exercise, exercise at the same time every day, arrange to meet a friend for coffee at the same time each week. Structure gives us a sense of security because we know what to expect. There is comfort in the familiar. If you take control of what you can, it will give you a good starting place from which to face the things you can’t control.
  3. Learn relaxation techniques. Fear, left to grow can lead to some serious health problems. If your fears are having a physical effect on health, learning some relaxation techniques may help you to be physically ready to face the challenge ahead. There are numerous resources online on this subject as well as a wealth of information at the library. Find the technique that works for you.
  4. Develop a spiritual life. In times of crisis, spiritual truths that are consistent in any circumstances are a great comfort. They give us safety and familiarity and, more importantly, they give us a reason to hope. If you do not have a spiritual life or faith consider talking to a pastor or read the Bible. The book of Psalms in particular speaks to people that are facing difficulties.
  5. Face your fears. Finally, the last step is to actually face your fears. First, it is important to note that some fears are healthy and some situations should be avoided for your own personal safety. There are no hero points awarded for going into a personally threatening situation. However, if the threat is more mental than physical, actually doing the thing you’re afraid of can be the best antidote of all. Don’t forget that it is often easiest to do this in steps. If your biggest fear is public speaking (and it is for the majority of us) don’t offer to address the room at the next stock holder’s meeting, but do try something smaller. Consider leading your next departmental meeting, or give a small talk at your next group meeting, something with a small audience and familiar faces, then work your way up from there. Facing your fears is a process.

Read Hazelle’s Story of Living with Anxiety.

Need someone to talk to, privately & confidentially? Mentors are here to listen … contact one today. You may also be interested in the “Conquering Your Giants” life lesson.

18 Responses to “Overcome Your Fears”

  • Sharon says:

    to Ashley– prayer–father God I pray for Ashley be with her and I pray for her fears and worries I pray God you are greater in us than the one in the world 1 john 4 4 also love conquers fears I feel for you my dad was also a introvert he didn’t hug or anything emotional I do have fears and worries too its hard not to I am praying for you. God loves you too– from sharon

  • Ashley says:

    Of course, i don’t blame any1 for my fault. I take full responsibility and i know my dad loves me v much! I love him too.

  • Ashley says:

    I am a single lady who used to be so ambitiuos after 20yrs of wkng only realised that i hv fear and worry like my dad. All the years in my jobs i am not successful but was running away from hard work & only now realised as i never mix around well with ppl & if i am too close to sm1 & they did smthg i feel v bad. Thus hv not being close or speak to any1 well in my job or family. My dad is an introvert and i feel so bad as i hv sm of his behaviour which i vowed not to hv. My mum is still helping me and i feel so ashamed as i am the 1 shld be helping her not the other way round. Keeping feelings to oneself is also not v good.

  • Elkay says:

    Peg, I assume fear is the new problem you are talking about and it came about in response to a short event.

    Knowing and trusting that God is sovereign and that He is totally good and loving is the essence of Christianity and these facts give us peace and good reason not to worry. If you can accept this and fully believe it, then you can live life confidently, no matter what is going on in your life, without fretting or fear. Nothing can be more beautiful and glorifying to God than for us to relax in the knowledge that everything is under His watching eyes and loving hand.

    Peg, has something specific brought fear into your life and do the above words help? Is there a particular way we can pray for you? Or if you would like to talk privately to a trained mentor, just click on the “Talk to a mentor” button near the top right of this article.

    May God give you today exactly what you need today.

  • Peg Mclear says:

    Overcome Your Fears

    […]The human system is capable of learning new responses incredibly quickly (how else could a single incident lasting only a few seconds or minutes create a problem in the first place?) […]

  • Aldo says:

    Joseph, I can sympathize with you. I’ve been there. And I can tell you that time is a great healer.

    But, right now, allow me to ask you a question: Have ever accepted Jesus Christ, by faith, as your Lord and Savior? If not, that is what you need to do to begin with. You see, Jesus Christ, God’s “only begotten son,” died for you on the cross of Calvary so that you, if you believe that and ask forgiveness for your sins, can receive Him as your Savior and have everlasting life. He is the ‘foundation’ on which to build your life.

    Also Joseph, Jesus is the answer to all your problems, whether they be big or small, financial or habitual, domestic or physical. He wants to be your redeemer, your healer, and your deliverer. He wants the very best for you, and your loved ones. Turn your life over to Him, and trust Him to bring about what He knows is best for you.

    Joseph, if you would like to, this is how you can do it.

    Remember, God knows your heart and is not as concerned with your words as He is with your attitude. The following is a suggested prayer:

    “Dear God, I admit I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness; I believe that Jesus Christ, Your Son, died in my place, paying the penalty for my sins. I am willing right now to turn from my sin and accept Him as my personal Savior and Lord. I commit myself to You, and ask You to send the Holy Spirit into my life, to fill me and take control, and to help me become the kind of person You want me to be. Thank You Father for loving me, forgiving my sins, and for giving me everlasting life, in Jesus name, Amen.”

    I pray that you say this prayer, and that the Spirit of God does a work in your heart.

  • joseph says:

    my fear is to let go somebody who belongs to someone else because of the love l feel and it hurts to see them together

  • joseph says:

    my fear is too let go somebody who belongs to someone else and it hurts to see them together and l cant help staying away

  • Chris says:

    monika…sorry to hear of your struggle….as humans we know God has made us to be able to do so many things but we can never get our eyes off of christ no matter what the challenge is we are facing. jesus made it clear in John 15.5, that without him we can do nothing. true humility comes in recognizing our utter helplessness to do anything if jesus doesnt give us the power to. phillippians 4.13. i encourage you to be sure jesus is at the helm of your life steering and guidng you in his will for you. that way you will never have to fear anything that you may be challenged with. for more information on having jesus as the pilot of your life and his love and forgiveness log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. i pray jesus becomes all you for you that you will ever need, including your driving instructor! blessings!

  • Monika says:

    Hello. I have a fear of my driving test. I am not sure how to describe it correctly, but I know I am a good driver and I am taking pre-test lessons, but I just have this huge fear of the actual exam. Just thinking about it now makes me nervous. Any advice on that? Thank you.

  • Sharon says:

    good article something to think about for sure and how to overcome your fears thank you for posting this article

  • Thanks for this helpful article addressing fear head-on.

    Over the past decade I have worked with some of the most interesting and successful people in the world. You may be an entertainer taking home $35,000 per hour. You may be a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. You may be a Wall Street corporate merger guru. Still, you have to understand, quickly recognize, and know how to defeat the top 5 professional fears. They are:
    1. The fear of silence
    2. The fear of sharing
    3. The fear of selling
    4. The twin fears of rejection and failure
    5. The fear of success

    Not surprisingly, most (not all) successful individuals initially assume they are the exception to the rule. “Fear? Who me? No way.”

    “No fear” isn’t just a Millennial motto for the adventurous. It’s a way of life. I know all this, yet yesterday I got hit with 1 of the 5 professional fears and responded 180 degrees opposite of what I know to do in such situations.

    I still believe “No fear” is a way of life, but it’s an imperfect way. Every time we give into fear, we need to humbly acknowledge it, remind ourselves what to do next time, and then move toward that “next time” as quickly as possible.

    –David Sanford, http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/drsanford

  • senmi says:

    I really loved this article it gave me back my hope and strength.

  • Sharon says:

    good article it is true overcoming fears is a process and having God is also a plus

  • sally says:

    Stephen,
    You are absolutely right, get treatment.
    My son went through a very stressful time a couple of years ago following a period where several members of our family died. He sank into depression very quickly but too quietly for me to notice what was happening. I had no idea. Many arguments took place back then. If only I knew.
    Once depression and OCD had been diagnosed by his doctor and we were told what was happening inside his head, we set on a path of what I can only describe as the hardest battle of all. It was very stressful for all of my family, but this was nothing compared to what my son was battling against in his head. He takes full credit for any progress made in the last 2 years. But he is still on the mend. Dont get me wrong, he is a changed person from back then, but it takes little steps and time, in order to keep on the right path and defeat your demons. You can do it, you just have to listen to what your anxiety is telling you in order to understand why you feel the way you do. If you suffer OCD like my son, you have to keep fighting that demon who is hell bent on keeping you down. Good Luck.

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Stephen it sounds like you are making huge strides as you deal with your social anxiety and depression. Way to go!! Thanks for taking the time to post a comment and encourage others with this disorder to get treatment and professional help.

  • Stephen QUIN says:

    I have social anxiety and major depression and I have been on medication for about 6 months. I have been seeing a psychologist for about 3 months and have been doing cognitive behaviour therapy for about 1 month. Facing my social anxiety has made it easier to talk with people but the anxiety level is still very high and I cry at times and also shake. Some of my achievements are :using public toilets, using showers at gym, talking to people I dont know at the gym and talking to people i dont know on the street. My condition is much harder to cure than any medical condition I have had but I was so bad I would do anything to get relief from crying, shaking, feeliong sick and depression that was never ending. Unlike other phobias you have to face many fears because it effects so many areas of your life and I sympathise with anyone with this disorder and advise get treatment as I am still trying to get my life back and still cry at times but I am not shaking as much.

  • Laurel says:

    This article can be helpful, but makes no mention of the biblical perspective of fear that would make it most helpful, such as the devil’s role as the source of tormenting fear and doubt and God’s role as our refuge and strength in the face of fear.

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