Why you should not be afraid of fear

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Everyone is afraid of something. It can creep up on you, steal your breath away and rob you of your sleep. It can whisper to you in your bed at night, drive with you in the car or even tell you on your happiest day that disaster is around the corner. But you don’t have to be afraid of fear. In fact, you can make friends with it.

For as long as I can remember, fear has been my constant companion, always hovering around the fringes of my mind, reminding me that I was just a sum total of all my mistakes and that is why it was not safe for me to move beyond the strict boundaries others put up for me. It did not help that the people around me voiced my deepest fears that I was never good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, woman enough to have more or even want more.

Until I realised that fear was like a bully; stand up to it and it will flee. So, I confronted every fear every day and worked hard to overcome each one. My fears may seem outlandish, but to me, they were very real. They spoke to the insecurities I buried deep down. And they kept me hostage, tied to a place in my life that I hated. But it was comfortable, the only life I knew; better the devil you know, I told myself.

Watch the news or read social media and you will understand why we are so afraid. The world is a dangerous place. Violence, crime and corruption are on a continuous loop the world over; horror stories being shared and retweeted. We clutch our bags, scan the crowd for possible threats and hold our keys in our hands, fearful of being a victim of crime and always prepared to defend ourselves.

Left unchecked fear will kill your dreams and ambitions and leave you paralysed, unable to move forward. You will make excuses for why you are still in the comfort zone. Surrender to your fears and it will sabotage your success. When you identify and accept your fears you can overcome them. Here’s how you can turn a fearful situation around:

Think about it

Always ask why. Why are you feeling like that? Why is it so important that you believe that? Then move to the when. When was the first time you believed that about yourself? You will understand yourself better and hopefully remove the trigger. It’s not as easy as it sounds. This requires effort and patience. Some of our fears are in our subconscious and shining a light on the dark places can be painful. But if you want a different life, you must do something differently.

Knowledge is power

Fear thrives in the space between the known and the unknown. Knowledge is power; that is why it is the best antidote to fear. Our fears are also our call to action. They are indicators of where we need to do the most work on ourselves to be most effective in our careers and relationships. Our fears are telling us something. Listen.

It is also helpful to write down your worst-case scenario. What if your deepest fear came true? You will soon realise that everything can be overcome.

Choose a support network

In every battle you need an army with you. Choose the right people to walk alongside you, whether it is family, friends or a professional. Ask for help when you need it and accept the comfort they offer.

Don’t get me wrong, fear is still with me. I am just able to recognise its voice now. I just choose to believe that being fearless is not about fearing nothing – it’s about feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

If you would like to share your journey, email me at trathanlall@fetola.co.za. I would love to hear from you.