A few things in life connect us all despite our differences. Things like love, wanting community, and happiness... One of those things is fear. We all experience fear at different times in our lives and in different magnitudes.
But none of us wants to, we all want to be brave. However, we can be brave only in the face of fear. When there is no fear then whatever we did was routine for us. So, to be brave, we have to first know fear, understand it, and overcome its control upon us.
When we see someone easily do what we're afraid of, it's either that they are in the process of moving beyond fear or they have no fear at all.
To be brave we have to overcome fear, and that itself requires courage. To do something that not many people consciously set out to do. But you can do it. It all depends on how much you want to do it and learning the right ways.
So, let's start with the fundamental question: what is fear?
What is fear?
Fear is one of the five basic emotions that we experience (the other four are joy, sadness, disgust, and anger).
Fear alerts us in the presence of what we perceive as danger, whether it be physical or psychological. It is our body's way of focusing all our attention on protecting ourselves.
Although some fears originate from real threats, a lot of them can be from our own imagination. In some situations, it can save our lives (physical danger, avoiding conflict) and in some, it can reduce the quality of our lives when we don't make the choices that we should.
Physical reactions to fear include sweating, increased heart rate, chills, shortness of breath, and high adrenaline levels. They are the same for all of us.
However, the emotional response to fear is highly individual. Depending on the person's perception, fear can be considered as either positive or negative. For example, some people enjoy watching scary movies or extreme sports while some don't.
With the knowledge that fear also depends upon our perception, we open up doors for understanding and ultimately freeing ourselves from it.
In our lives especially, we experience fear more because of our mind's perception than the threat of physical harm.
So, now that we have understood fear, its causes and effects, let's learn how we can be brave in the face of it and perhaps even let it go.
How to Be Brave
1. Understand your fear
"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may
― Marie Curie
Fear is a complex emotion. It has an overpowering hold on us. Often, we put so much energy into running away from it. But no problem can be fixed by avoidance. It only becomes stronger because we didn't have what we should have.
Truth is, the only way to overcome fear is to face it. Once we face it, we reduce it and ultimately end it.
One of the ways of facing your fears is to try and understand it. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to understand your fears about anything:
- What am I afraid of?
- Why am I afraid of this?
- How much of my fear is rooted in reality and how much of it is my imagination?
- How likely is it for my fear to come true? How can I prepare for it?
- If my friend was in my situation, what would I say to them?
- Is this fear of something that has not happened hampering my peace in my present?
- What can I do to help myself in this state?
- What if I wasn't afraid about this? What would be different? What could happen?
- Can I have this fear and still make good decisions for my life?
- Do I have any control over this fear?
Giving yourself the time you need to observe and understand fear can be profoundly helpful. Your answers will help you not only get to the reasons for your fears but also how you can overcome them.
Truth is, we are far more likely to stick to a solution if we come up with it ourselves. You can know yourself best and you are the only one who can change your life.
2. Go to the root of reality
A lot of people believe that if you pluck grey hair, the follicle releases some sort of liquid and the hair around it also turns grey. We believe this so strongly that we never consider whether it is true or not.
Turns out it's not. Plucking grey hair does not lead to more grey hair. “Plucking a gray hair will only get you a new gray hair in its place because there is only one hair that is able to grow per follicle. Your surrounding hairs will not turn white until their own follicles’ pigment cells die.” ^
Now all of a sudden the whole idea is banished. It's still not a good thing to pluck hair for the follicle's health but let's get back to the point.
Whenever we challenge what we think we know and get to the actual truth, our perception changes because it's rooted in reality.
When you experience fear, question yourself about how valid its reason is. For example, a lot of us don't apply for a job because we already assume that we won't get it. But, there's no way for us to know that until we try. We think that breaking up a bad relationship will leave us lonely and we'll never find anyone better, but is that really true? Our imagination is a tool that can shape our lives in a beautiful and ugly way, depending on how we use it.
So, ask yourself, is what I'm fearing really going to happen? Am I creating a reality in my mind that isn't actually real? Is there a way for me to handle this?
3. Know who you are
The questions I gave you above are a small part of the self-reflection that we have to do to know ourselves.
Our fears are real and important to us because of the lives that we have lived and the memories we have. If we are not sure about who we are, overcoming fear is only one of many things that we'll struggle with.
When you know yourself, you make choices, little and big, that result in a good life for you. An introspective mind not only understands itself but also what it encounters in life because it first attempts to look at all sides of it.
Your fears are yours. To understand your fears you have to understand yourself. Only then can you become the person who overcomes them.
4. You have to believe in yourself
In psychology, self-efficacy is a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in a particular situation. This plays a role in how we think, how we act, and how we feel about our place in the world. ^
Whether or not you can overcome your fears depends a lot on whether you believe you can.
I know that you can. You wouldn't be facing what you are if you couldn't overcome it. It is my strong belief that people can overcome their issues in one way or another.
Reading others' stories about how they overcame their struggles helps us believe that we can too. Here are real-life stories who overcame the most difficult phases of their lives.
Another powerful way of having high self-efficacy is affirmations. Affirmations are powerful positive statements that help train your mind to speak empowering words. As you repeat them more and more over time, you'll find that they become easier for you to believe. You can say them out loud, write them down, or have them in a mobile app like the Gratitude app.
Here are a few affirmations for you:
- I can overcome my fears.
- I have all that I need within me.
- I am more powerful than my fears.
- I control my life, my fears don't.
- I believe in myself and my abilities.
- I am unbreakable.
- I am unstoppable.
- I am brave.
- I can do it!
- I can conquer anything.
- I know that I can succeed.
- I know that I will make it through.
- Nothing can hold me back.
- I am a survivor.
- All of this is easy for me.
- I am a force to be reckoned with.
- I thrive against all odds.
- Nothing comes in my way, not even myself.
- I believe myself 100%.
- I have faith in my heart.
5. Seek the support of your friends
If you happen to have someone in your life that you can trust, don't make yourself stay alone. Talking to friends can help us push pause on our spiraling thoughts and get an outsider's perspective about our situation.
I have found that when I share my issues with people I trust, I get over them much quicker than I would have on my own. We are here together in this world. Love nurtures and heals.
You are not alone.
Apart from friends, you can also talk to a therapist about what you're going through. Different solutions work at different times. You have to give yourself the space to try them out.
6. Surrender to what is
Fear stems from the thought of what could happen. When it seems out of control, inevitable, and dreadful, we feel afraid.
This fear steals the true moment from us, where we are, the life we really have, and what is around us. How often is our fear true? And how often is our present true?
Fear is mostly by imagination. That's the fear we have to overcome and let go. The fear that is by true threat also has to be overcome but by doing what we can to protect ourselves.
The imagined dangers are only imagined. The only experience is now. Surrendering control of the outcome and taking control of our actions is what can strengthen us.
It is what it is. If there is something that you really should do about something that will happen, it is up to you. What ultimately will happen is not your responsibility.
7. Face your fears
Are there some things or activities that you are not afraid of but others are? A very simple example is that I am not afraid of dogs, but I have met many people that are.
One big reason is that I grew up around dogs, I understand them, and I have love for them. The people who are afraid of dogs either never got to be with them, have wrong perceptions, or had an unfortunate experience with them.
Any of their reasons now make them afraid of dogs. In fact, one of my best friends developed cynophobia (extreme fear of dogs) after a dog ran after her. It stopped her from coming into my house because I have a dog. She knew he wouldn't harm her but she couldn't help herself.
Later, she decided that she had to get over it because one bad experience doesn't mean that all dogs are the same. She slowly started to get closer to a dog in her colony. She didn't run away when he came around. Soon, she could pet him. After some more time, she fed him food. And now she has overcome her phobia.
Exposure to what you fear repeatedly leads you to overcome your fear. I am sure that you too would have let go of some fears by facing them. When we face our fears and experience something good out of it, we connect that experience with positive emotions. Slowly, those fears leave us or we learn to handle them better.
Remember, you are so much more than your fears. You deserve so much more than your fears will let you have. You are brave. You can be brave.
And, with that, we've reached the end of this blog post. Thank you for making it here! Do share this with someone who might need it. Take care!
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