2020 is a year like none other. We are in the midst of a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic that seems to be getting worse with no end in sight. Many lives are lost due to the terrible disease. Many more lives are impacted by the pandemic with a record number of unemployment, closed schools and businesses. Many fear economic, social and political instabilities in the coming months or years.
Facing so much uncertainty, it is natural to be fearful. Maybe you have lost your job or lost your business, and face financial difficulty. Maybe you are furloughed and wonder when you can go back to work. If you are lucky, your employer allows you to work from home during the pandemic. But you are concerned about your safety when you have to return to your workplace one day or you worry about your job security if your company’s financial situation is significantly impacted by COVID-19. No matter what your circumstances are, we do not have to live in a state of fear. This article will help you understand what fear is, how to overcome fear and experience a life filled with hope, joy and peace.
What Is Fear?
Fear, especially irrational fear, can be defined as False Evidence Appearing Real. It is an emotional reaction to a perceived danger. It is irrational beliefs that we have about ourselves, our actions, objects, other people or events.
Some Common Fears
There are many fears, such as fear of height, fear of sickness, fear of broken relationships, fear of loneliness, fear of poverty, fear of losing jobs, fear of public speaking, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of success, etc. Too often, we hold back and play it safe, in order to avoid becoming successful, feeling embarrassed, looking silly, being hurt, and facing rejection or possible failure. We cling to fear from our childhood, traumatic experiences, and the negative media.
The Consequences of Our Fears
- Fears cause us to miss opportunities and keep us in our comfort zone
- Fears cause us to feel insecure about ourselves and lose confidence about our abilities
- Fears cause us to procrastinate
- Fears cause us to lose motivation
- Fears hold us back from personal growth and from reaching our potential
- Fears distort our perspective and affect our ability to make sound decisions.
If you do not want any of these consequences to continue, then it is time to acknowledge, face, and overcome your fear.
Managing your fears and anxiety
There are several practical ways you can try to fight your fears.
- Increase knowledge and build confidence
In many instances, our fears are simply due to our lack of knowledge and understanding about an emotion, situation, person or task. Gaining some understanding about the situation and becoming familiar with whatever we are facing could help alleviate fear.
- Rehearse courage mentally
When it comes to emotions, including fear, our brain can’t differentiate between what is imagined and what is real. If we repeatedly rehearse doing the things that we dreaded while at the same time, visualizing ourselves completing them successfully, our behavior in the real world will imitate your imagination.
- Change perspective
- Perspective about our circumstances: Instead of focusing on the fear, look at it as an opportunity for a positive change and growth.
- Perspective about others: Shift focus from yourself to others, especially those who are less fortunate than you. You will gain a new perspective about your fear.
- Perspective about yourself: Reflect on your past where you overcame difficulties, and trust your ability to learn what is necessary to overcome the current challenge.
- Reassociate the fear
The fear you are facing isn’t really fear after all. It is excitement like getting on a roller coaster.
Here are some mental exercises you can do to help you overcome fear:
- Notice when you put things off because of a fear
- Reconfirm that the goal is worth pursuing
- Tell yourself that the fear is just a signal that this is a desirable goal to pursue
- Be grateful that you have the opportunity to achieve that goal
- Think about all the things that you don’t have to be afraid about
- Recall the times that you have overcome similar fears
- Visualize yourself taking the action that will move you closer to your goal
In this video Will Smith talks about the lesson he learned about fear from his skydiving experience.
Will Smith has a powerful and profound message for us: God places the best things in life on the other side of fear. What are the best things in life? To me, that includes joy, peace, love, hope, fulfillment, freedom (freedom from bondage, freedom from fear, freedom to be you…), harmony, gratitude, connectedness, creativity, generosity, etc. What do you desire in life? How badly do you want to experience them? If we want to live our dream life, a purposeful life, a fulfilled life, let’s face our fears.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.