If you’ve ever struggled with fear and anxiety, you know how crippling it can be. Fear can hold us back from so much – from doing small things like jumping in a pool to bigger things like making a career change or traveling the world. Fear makes us believe we can’t live the lives we might be destined for.
One of the most helpful things I’ve learned about fighting fear and anxiety is to accept both feelings as they come. Weirdly, the less you fight against anxiety, the less threatening it becomes. When you name your fears, they have less power and you begin to see them for what they are. Learning how to call your anxieties and fears by name and analyzing how they make you feel can curb the scary emotions that accompany each.
Oftentimes, anxious and fearful people are faced with a decision: put forth the effort to power through the feelings, or just skip it and “stay safe”. While I’ve certainly had moments where I decide it’s not worth dealing with my fears and just stay home, it’s far more valuable to go with it.
When you accept fears by deciding to face them anyway, you’re setting yourself up for little wins that will add up in a big way over time.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of traveling and airplanes. I deliberately confronted this fear during a year where Husband was traveling a lot for work, and we had
several out of town weddings to attend. Each individual flight wasn’t always easy (and some were worse than others!) but the end result of that year was a very obvious decrease in fear of traveling. In fact, this summer’s trip out to Oregon was the first time I can remember being more or less completely calm for the whole plane ride.
There have been several times where friends have asked me to help them or do them a favor that immediately stirs up fear, anxiety and dread. These times are often stressful and heart-breaking for me because if I’m available, I always want to help a friend in need. But the pull of fear sometimes feels much stronger than my desire to help. Fear makes me focus too much on me and not enough on those in need.
Yet, when I agree to help despite my fears, it’s always, always been a character-builder. There have been times where I said yes, was deathly afraid, but did it anyway and felt the accomplishment of facing fear and the satisfaction of doing the right thing. There have been other times when I agree to help with something, but the plan changes, or someone else has agreed to help and I’m “off the hook.”
For me personally, both scenarios remind me to put myself aside, trust in God and remember that He gives us strength for the moment. If I confront a fear, He’s right there beside me through it. Sometimes, though, I think He just wants to know that I’m willing to confront it; willing to walk through it in trust with Him – and that’s enough.
The way to simplify something you’re afraid to do is to recognize it, name it, and do it anyway. If you make a point to consistently face a specific fear, I promise that fear will dissipate. Even if you don’t have a chance to confront one thing over and over, whenever you decide to accept your fears and proceed anyway, you’ll find dealing with future fears becomes a lot simpler.