Saturday, November 26, 2011

Agonizing Over Fear

In this moment, you are safe if you choose to believe it. Look around you, are you in imminent physical danger either because of another person, a natural disaster or a potentially risky and life-threatening job responsibility? No, then you are safe. Is there someone verbally assaulting you, reprimanding you or in any way accosting your sensibilities? No, then you are safe. Does the fact that you want to go beyond your comfort zone to experience something new and different produce a horrifying outcome in your mind? Is the likelihood of any of those things happening a by product of your day should you engage in them? Possibly, but not likely unless you or something coincidentally sets into motion that disastrous thing which you think is about to happen. Your fear is about giving credence to the possibility of something bad happening.

So, reasonably speaking, why are you succumbing to fear when logically the possibility of anything bad happening to you probably won't? My experience has taught me that the majority of the time it's the fear of the unknown. Somewhere along the line, someone has helped you to believe that the unknown is worth being frightened about. The more fear you feel the deeply you believed that message. And the more you've allowed your brain to repeatedly lay down the tracks of that self-destructive message making it harder to shake the fear when it raises its ugly head.

I don't want to imply that all fear and anxiety is not warranted or even exactly as I have described it above. Certainly situations that are dangerous and life threatening are worthy of feeling a healthy dose of fear. In addition, physical illnesses and chemical imbalances occurring in your brain can also produce the sensation of fear with absolutely nothing being contributed by you or your external environment.

Anxiety disorders, panic attacks, nervousness... these are all different ways of describing the physical condition that can be experienced when in the throes of that feeling that seems to want to push you over the edge with fear. Having an anxiety disorder is a real condition, one that I was afflicted with for many years finding absolutely no relief from but came to understand that there were many ways to gain control through medication and/or cognitive behavioral therapy. Medication, even though beneficial, was not what had the most impact on me. The biggest reasons I was able to achieve my current some what stable frame of mind in reference to fear and anxiety was learning and understanding how to cope, control and discover why I felt anxiety about certain situations. Luckily and through many hard years, I've found answers for myself and about myself that have helped me to keep the fear and the anxiety far away from determining what kind of life I wanted to experience. The situations I'd like to touch on are not about fear that is being experienced due to a medical condition and as such, would caution that if you are dealing with that type of anxiety, please understand this piece is not meant to diagnose or prescribe how you should deal with it. The situations I describe are my own personal conclusions that I have come to about some forms of fear.

There are two sides to everything, fear being no exception. Utilizing fear as a precaution gives one a feeling of commanding one's surrounding, but when you are immobilized in our own being due to an exaggeration of that precaution, then it has slipped into the negative arena that just holds you hostage, emotionally and sometimes physically. The chemical interactions go hay wire and you allow yourself to be dragged down a path of anxiousness that seems to offer no hope of escape.

Having the ability to fear something realistically imminent is not a problem, but when you have a baseless fear, that is something that is troublesome. Again, it could be because of something that is beyond your control chemically but in the case where it is unwarranted and only created because you have a fear of the unknown, then I think it might be time for you to stop what you are allowing yourself to feed into and truly, really examine what you are doing in support of that fear. The fear is keeping you from engaging with reality and it is allowing you to be less than what you are capable of achieving next. Don't go that route because it keeps you from going in the direction of being the best possible you that you can be. Cliche sounding, but true.

Fearing something just because it is unknown doesn't help you achieve what you yearn for nor does it help you fulfill what you could potentially be capable of, it only serves to keep you at a level of mediocrity. If that is all you are satisfied with, then cool - you have arrived. However, if mediocre is not how you want to define yourself then you have to realistically understand that continuing to fear the unknown and not striving to get past that fear means you are settling for mediocrity. You will remain stuck where you are and watch (from the sidelines) what you could potentially be in the thick of, get further and further out of your reach.

If you want more than what you see for yourself now, don't agonize about your fear. Take a good hard look at it and push through that mask of what is scaring the bejeezus out of you and knock it down. Get to the other side of what you are afraid of and claim victory over what has held you back before. Grab on and hold on, keep moving in the direction of what you know makes you happy and satisfied. Discovering that having courage is more rewarding than allowing fear to dictate what your life experiences should be; truly living your potential is what it's all about. Fear should only be a reaction to things you encounter that could be potentially damaging or dangerous. It shouldn't be your response to how you live your life or a reaction to opportunities that present themselves to you.

So don't hesitate. Put one foot in front of the other and let the unknown be a challenge that you want to meet head on. No more agony, only facing what stands between you and your achievements. Let the rewards that come with them be your satisfaction.

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